If you’re not from Lynchburg, Virginia, then you may not know the following bit of apocryphal lore:
According to local legend, Thomas Jefferson, who was visiting the owners of the Miller-Claytor House on his way to his Poplar Forest home, took a bite of the “poisonous love apple.” Supposedly, this was the first time anyone in Virginia had eaten this fruit, which we now call the tomato.
Today, some 200 years after Jefferson’s fear-dispelling chomp, the Lynchburg Hillcats announced their team name finalists. And, yes, “Lynchburg Love Apples” is among them.
It may very well be time to say goodbye to this, the current team identity.
The Hillcats — Cleveland’s Class A Advanced affiliate in the Carolina League — described the current stage of their rebranding endeavor thusly:
After the initial round of Lynchburg’s “Name The Team” contest saw its loyal fanbase suggest a number of creative and original names, the list has been narrowed to six finalists.
“We were not surprised but still extremely proud of the passion and creativity our fans displayed when submitting possible names for the Lynchburg baseball team moving forward,” said Hillcats Team President Chris Jones. “We are expecting our fans to show the same amount of passion and enthusiasm in the next step of the process by voting for their favorite name on our team website.”
In addition to “Love Apples,” which seems impossible not to vote for given the logo possibilities, there are five additional finalists under consideration. Italicized text is from the press release:
Lynchburg Derechos: Locals know Derechos are mighty storms, symbolic of the power and strength of players working their way up to the big leagues.
Wikipedia explains that a derecho is “a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a land-based, fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms.” It should not be confused with a haboob.
Spanish speakers may decide that this is the “right” choice. Okay, what else is “izquierda?” Let’s see:
Lynchburg Doves — The Lynchburg Doves pays tribute both to Lynchburg’s hunting culture and the community’s faith-based history.
To summarize: a bird symbolizing peace is being celebrated, in part, because Lynchburgers have a history of killing them.
Lynchburg Hillcats — Lynchburg Hillcats honors the seven hills Lynchburg is known for and Lynchburg’s baseball history.
Been there, done that.
Lynchburg Lamb Chops
A celebration of Lynchburg’s faith-based heritage, the Lamb Chops combines the community’s servant-spirit with the fun of Minor League Baseball.
Because Jesus is the Lamb of God and Lynchburg (home of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University) is known for its fundamentalist Christian spirit. If they go with this name, then perhaps we’ll hear this song at the ballpark as a means to drive people out at the end of the game. Click at your own risk.
Lynchburg River Runners — Honoring Lynchburg founder John Lynch, the River Runners celebrates the man who ran goods across the James River and the town he founded.
Lynch was 17 when he founded his ferry service. When I was 17 I was working as a dishwasher and driving a 1981 Pontiac Phoenix.
For more on the Lynchburg Hillcats, check out my blog posts from when I visited last season. For more on the reaction to the proposed name change, check out the team’s Facebook page. As always, the fans are having their say.