CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hilliard Martinez Gonzales (HMG) attorney Alex Hilliard told KRIS 6 News on Monday that his firm's $45,000 yearly agreement with the Corpus Christi Hooks for tickets, promotions and a luxury suite will not be renewed by the local team.
As recently as last week, HMG was negotiating its partnership with the Houston Astros' Double-A affiliate team, as it has at this time every year for nearly two decades.
Alex Hilliard said the firm received an email from Hooks' General Manager Wes Weigle on Feb. 19, ending their deal.
"Unfortunately, the Hooks are unable to move forward with a partnership with HMG at this time," Weigle's email reads. "I wish I had better news, and am personally disappointed since the Hooks and HMG have had such a great, longstanding relationship."
HMG Partner Robert Hilliard responded to the email, saying he was dismayed at the decision to end the years-long relationship.
"So disappointing, as I look at the Hooks organization as family," he wrote. "Whats (sic) it been like 20 years we have had this relationship?"
Alex Hilliard said while the Hooks did not provide a reason, for ending the business relationship, the firm has its suspicions.
"They don't have to give us a reason," he said. "However, it happened within 24 hours of us filing a lawsuit against their parent organization, the Houston Astros. So the timing coincidence of it seemed to be a little suspect."
Hilliard is referring to the class-action lawsuit HMG filed on behalf of Astros' season-ticket holders in response to reports the Astros cheated. He said it's HMG's duty to represent its clients, and feel the Astros' decision is a personal reaction to a business issue.
The law firm also said there are more lawsuits coming against the Astros, including from fans who went to the World Series and the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.
"Professionally, and in a business sense, should be taken separately, shouldn't be acted on as if it's retaliation for certain things such as a class-action lawsuit against, not the Corpus Christi Hooks, but the Houston Astros," Alex Hilliard said.
Hilliard said that partnership dates back to the Hooks' inception in 2005.
"We enjoyed every single part of it," he said. "We attended games. We enjoyed giving a lot of the games away to charitable organizations and allowing the whole community, if we could, to participate in these games, because we know what it meant to us and it was something that was fun to share."
Some baseball fans, like Randall Pennington, are not surprised by the local impact of that lawsuit.
"It's to be expected," he said. "I mean, if you're gonna sue the parent company then yeah, you're probably gonna not be welcome at Hooks stadium."
Hilliard said the firm isn't holding a grudge against the Hooks, calling the team a "staple of Corpus Christi."
"We still want to be a part of every game that we can, to the extent that they allow us to," Hilliard said.
The firm said it hopes to hear from the organization, but have not heard from Hooks representatives since last week's email exchange.
"We didn't try to diminish our relationship with the Hooks at all: That wasn't our intent," he said. "That wasn't our goal."
KRIS 6 News reached out to the Corpus Christi Hooks, and the minor-league team said it had no comment at this time.