When executives from the tech giant visited the county Jan. 27, the meeting took place in the centerfield of Dell Diamond, home of the Texas Rangers' Triple A baseball team, the Round Rock Express. It was a meeting Express CEO Reid Ryan helped make happen, and in midseason form, they knocked it out of the park.
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell Jr. said a lot of hard work and community teamwork went into the first impression with the Samsung contingent gifted baseball uniforms with Samsung on the back and the number 21.
“Some took off their suit coats and put on the uniform,” Gravell said.
Baseball is big to Samsung and South Korea, where the company is headquartered.
The 10-team Korea Baseball Organization League includes the Samsung Lions, winners of eight Korean Series championships and runners-up 10 times since the team was founded in 1982.
Twenty-five South Korean baseball players have played in Major League Baseball since the mid-1990s, and some found success in Texas.
The Express and Dell Diamond have been a Central Texas tradition since 2000, led then by partners Don Sanders and Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan.
Gravell said the 1993 fight when 26-year-old Robin Ventura charged 46-year-old Nolan Ryan on the mound and soon regretted that decision was a topic of discussion at the Jan. 27 meeting.
The fight for Williamson County to land one of the largest-ever investments in Texas was on, and baseball helped bring them together.
The meeting included a VIP video presentation on the big scoreboard screen along with a video touting the county as the perfect home for Samsung.
A gift from Taylor Mayor Brandt Rydell, a football helmet for the Taylor Ducks, was seen in future video meetings with Samsung.
Other local businesses welcomed Samsung to town for the initial visit. Across from Dell Diamond, Gravell said Kalahari Resorts Texas officials and the Nelson family stepped up to the plate and welcomed the business guests to town. The first meeting ended with fireworks.
“The end of the pitch was ‘welcome home,’” Gravell said. “We hit a grand slam that day.”