A Texas man has been revoked of his minor league baseball season tickets in response to his lawsuit against the embattled Houston Astros.
Bob Hilliard, a longtime season ticket owner with the Astros’ AA affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks, was stripped of his annual package weeks before a new season gets underway. The Texas attorney filed a claim against the Astros on behalf of season ticket holders that feel cheated and betrayed in the wake of their ongoing sign-stealing scandal that has been the talk of the league. But instead of earning his requested refund from the club, Hilliard lost out on his 15-year Hooks season ticket package entirely.
“I was extremely affected and offended by the Astros cheating scandal and never once thought it seeped down to the Hooks,” Hilliard told The Athletic. “The litigation is personal to me given what it represents and how I feel about that kind of thing.”
Hilliard’s season ticket plan with the Hooks was held through his Corpus Christi-based law firm Hilliard Martinez Gonzales (HMG). The firm originally bought six seats behind home plate in 2005 and upgraded the season ticket package three years later with five additional seats behind home and a suite. HMG also took part in annual sponsored nights with the club by offering fan giveaways at the park. The overall cost of the firm’s involvement with the Hooks is reported at $45,000 annually.
Hilliard has not been shy about taking action against MLB teams, as he previously filed a class action lawsuit in 2018 calling the league to expand its safety measures and improve the protective netting in ballparks after fans sustained injuries from getting hit by foul balls.
Meanwhile, the Houston Astros are caught in the crossfires of heavier legal battles on top of Hilliard’s. The club was hit with a suit from season ticket holder Adam Wallach shortly after their sign-stealing scandal came to light. In his filing, Wallach sought $1 million in damages for both partial and full season ticket owners during the 2017-2020 seasons, citing breach of contract and negligence from the Astros organization.
The Astros recently offered their first legal response by addressing a lawsuit filed by fantasy baseball players who argued that Houston’s role in the scandal altered and corrupted their games in 2017. In a brief, the team dismissed the claims by noting “if there is any implied understanding of fans, it is that rule infractions will occur during the games.”
As they head into the 2020 season, all eyes are on Houston and their performance in the wake of the scandal. Dusty Baker will take the helm as the team’s manager after AJ Hinch was fired for his connection to the cheating along with team GM Jeff Luhnow.