TVLSE, Oklahoma – The Tulsa Drillers hosted Muscogee Nation Night June 25 at ONEOK Field, which held a ceremony of pregame events.
Events included Muscogee Matriarch, Pearl Thomas singing the National Anthem in the Muscogee language, introduction of Miss Muscogee Nation Claudia McHenry and Principal Chief Hill throwing the first pitch.
Muscogee Nation Marketing and Tourism Director Kyle Lee worked directly with the Tulsa Drillers over the last three years on this event.
“I have met with the Drillers about our partnership that we have had each year and wanted to make it more robust and a bigger way to promote our culture,” Lee said.
According to Lee, an idea came together about the team wearing jerseys saying “Tvlse” was established.
“They loved the idea and that was how it all started,” he said. “Having the National Anthem sung in our language, having the Chief throw the first pitch, this is our third year getting to showcase our culture and our language to thousands of people.”
Each year thus far, a new jersey design has been put out. Lee claims this year’s design may be the final design for now.
The jerseys worn by the players were auctioned off following the game to benefit the Muscogee Nation Scholarship Foundation.
Other than the Scholarship Foundation, the Muscogee Nation does not profit from this event Lee stated.
“We spend money on this to give our employees an opportunity to attend the games by buying tickets,” Lee said. “We don’t make any money of this, we are just here to be proud of our culture, our language and our partnership with the Drillers because they are also within our reservation boundaries.”
“Its just a good way to connect with the community.”
The Muscogee Nation purchased around 800 tickets for its employees for this year’s Muscogee Nation Night.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the event last year due to CDC guidelines, but Lee claimed the Drillers participated in the Texas Collegiate League where they wore the “Tvlse” jerseys for the 2020 season.
The Muscogee Nation Department of Health took the opportunity for the event to distribute vaccines to game attendees and even passersby.
“We just want to make it available to anyone who is interested, that is our goal when we bring this out in the community to get as many vaccines in the arm as we can,” MN Department Health Chief Executive Performance Officer Shoneen Alexander-Ross said.
Ross claimed there were around 100 available doses and included Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
The crew was prepared to give first and second doses of the vaccine as well as establish second vaccine appointments if necessary.
The MN Department of Health used their mobile refrigerated vehicles to safely store vaccines while parked outside the ballpark.
“This is one of the most successful nights we host each year. It was our largest attendance of the 2021 season,” Tulsa Drillers Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager Jason George said.
George stated the Tulsa Drillers Muscogee Nation Night was a sold out event.
“The Muscogee Nation has been a wonderful partner of the Drillers for many years, far beyond the three years when we started doing this particular night,” he said. “I think they are wonderful community partners and we are fortunate to be one of the benefactors of their support in the community.”