Taco Buyout: The Fresno Grizzlies and their alter ego

By Kelsey Smith, @14Smith15

The first ever Fresno Tacos uniforms from 2015. Photo via espn.com

The first ever Fresno Tacos uniforms from 2015. Photo via espn.com

Every season, the Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, change their name to the Fresno Tacos in what is one of the best theme nights in all of sports.

The Tacos' 2017 uniforms. Photo via Twitter

The Tacos' 2017 uniforms. Photo via Twitter

This year, they went big and actually bought the taco emoji, which was announced last Tuesday along with the uniforms that the team would be wearing for the game.

According to milb.com, the Grizzlies donated $5,000 to the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit organization that produces emojis.

Fresno is not the only sports team to own an emoji. An article from baseballamerica.com claims that the Oakland Athletics own the elephant and fruit bearing tree emoji and the San Jose Earthquakes own the soccer ball emoji.

Where did all this taco talk come from? Ever since 2015, the Grizzlies have been changing their name for one game to the Tacos and have hosted a ‘Taco Truck Throwdown,’ which has been a tradition of its own since 2011.

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In 2015, the Taco uniforms only appeared for one game, but in 2016, the team turned Tuesday home games into ‘Taco Tuesdays.’ All 10 home Tuesday games for the Grizzlies featured the theme. ‘Taco Tuesdays’ features not only the taco uniforms, but $2 tacos, churros and sodas, according to milb.com.

This is all because California’s Central Valley has a rich history in taco culture and Fresno’s General Manager Derek Franks wants to, “cement Fresno as the Taco Capital of this country,” as stated in his interview with milb.com.

Cilantro Gomez, the official mascot of the Fresno Tacos. Photo via Instagram

Cilantro Gomez, the official mascot of the Fresno Tacos. Photo via Instagram

Minor League Baseball is known for its theme nights.

Last season, the Stockton Ports (Asparagus Night), Brooklyn Cyclones (Full House Night) and El Paso Chihuahuas (KISS Night) all featured their team wearing new uniforms for a night.

The Grizzlies take their theme night much further, consistently calling themselves the Tacos throughout the year and by allowing fans to buy hats and shirts with their taco logo on it.

Some fans are lucky enough to get their hands on a Fresno Tacos jersey.

They even have a mascot for the Tacos: Cilantro Gomez.

Fresno owns their taco theme and it is more than just a night built to get fans to come to the stadium one night. It is something that unites the town of Fresno and surrounding area to the team through a food culture that speaks to the citizens.

One of the many Taco hats available through Lids or Fresno's own online store. Photo via Lids.com

One of the many Taco hats available through Lids or Fresno's own online store. Photo via Lids.com

The people of the Central Valley take notice to this and get excited about the Tacos because the team and front office are excited about it. Their tweets have been constantly referencing their announcement to get fans ready for the season and it seems to be working, as they were the number one trending topic on Twitter even though it was Betty White’s birthday.

Buying the taco emoji is just another way of showing their fans how much heart and soul they put into transforming the Grizzlies into the Tacos.

They won’t be letting go of the emoji any time soon, as they have it listed at $1,000,000 for anyone else who wishes to buy it, according to milb.com. Of that money, $5,000 would be spent on ponchos and hats for Cilantro Gomez, while the rest of the money would be given to Central Valley charities.

Maybe someday Taco Bell will be restocking a Minor League Baseball team’s mascot’s wardrobe. Crazier things have happened in this league.

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