So, didja miss me? What’s that? You didn’t even know that I was gone? Ah, well, whatever. The important thing is that I’m back from vacation and now fully in “offseason mode.” I have nothing left to write regarding my 2015 ballpark travels, but, when one dwells fully within the world of Minor League Baseball, there is always something to write about.
Today, that something will be a full-to-bursting bouillabaisse concerning all of the new Minor League logos that were unveiled when I was outta sight and outta mind. Let’s get to it, lest it get to us.
Kane County Cougars — For the first 25 years of their existence, the Kane County Cougars held the distinction of “Minor League team whose primary logo looks most like a Boy Scout merit badge.” I always kind of liked it, at least because it was so out of place in the current Minor League landscape.
The logos were designed by Studio Simon, in conjunction with Cougars graphic designer Emmet Broderick. The team is now one of a select handful in Minor League Baseball whose wardrobe includes a lime green alternate jersey.
Bowling Green Hot Rods — When the Hot Rods played their inaugural season, way back in 2009, they looked like this:
And now, after just six seasons, the club has completely overhauled its look. The old logo was designed by Brandiose (then known as Plan B Branding); these new marks are courtesy of SME. I don’t really know much about SME, as they are not a firm that has had many Minor League clients. I guess I’ll have to learn.
If you’re looking for a relevant excerpt from the accompanying Hot Rods MiLB.com story, then boy are you in luck:
[Hot Rods general manager Adam] Nuse said the variety of colors and the shape of the old logo presented challenges to the team, especially when it came to merchandise.
“We’re certainly happy with [the new look]. Previously, we had a lot of different colors, and now we’re kind of focusing on the navy and the orange. It simplifies things a bit and makes it a little more modern. Our new logos are a little more symmetric than the other ones. I really liked our old logos, but they made it hard graphically — they created some centering issues — and I think our new stuff avoids those. They’re easier to fit on graphic pieces and merchandise.”
New Hampshire Fisher Cats — You may remember reading, here or elsewhere, that the New Hampshire Fisher Cats were originally called the “New Hampshire Primaries.” The franchise never played a game as the “Primaries”, however, because the local stick-in-the-mud population was thoroughly against it.
Still, the Fisher Cats continue to have fun with their what-coulda-been “Primaries” identity. Take it away, press release, and never come back:
As the Granite State celebrates the 100th anniversary of its presidential primary, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have launched a campaign of their own, “We the Fans 2016.” The interactive campaign will allow fans across the country to participate in New Hampshire’s rich political history by casting votes for the official game hat to be worn by the Fisher Cats on Opening Day, April 14, 2016.
Voting…will take place on the new voting website, www.WeTheFans2016.com. The initial question will ask fans nationwide to determine which hat the Fisher Cats wear for the first game next season – a blue hat with a donkey logo or a red hat with an elephant logo. The two logos are throwbacks to the Fisher Cats’ original name, the New Hampshire Primaries, and will be accompanied by the team’s bipartisan jersey that is half red and half blue with ‘Fisher Cats’ in script across the chest.
This is the first time that I’ve encountered the phrase “bipartisan jersey” and I pray that it will not be the last. I voted on Tuesday morning, at which point the votes were evenly split, but at the end of the day the Donkey was winning in 48 of 50 states. One of the two states in which the Elephant was winning was New Hampshire.
Omaha Storm Chasers — Omaha’s Pacific Coast League franchise switched its name from the “Royals” to the “Storm Chasers” prior to the 2011 season. The Royals affiliation remained, however, and now it is receiving an increased emphasis via the Storm Chasers’ new uniforms.
That one on the bottom right, it’s called the “Vortex.”
The press release, the embodiment of all Earthly knowledge, contains the following quote:
“In light of the Royals’ World Series Championship, there is no better time to further connect our two franchises, part of which is shown with these new jerseys,” said Storm Chasers President and General Manager Martie Cordaro. “From adding blue to our road jersey and with an all-new alternate powder blue jersey, we are now aligned with the color-scheme of our parent club’s primary three jerseys.”
In conjunction with the uniform unveiling, the Storm Chasers also announced that they have extended their affiliation with the Royals through the 2018 season. This affiliation, which began in 1969, is the longest in Triple-A baseball.
Appalachian League — Prior to this offseason, I can’t remember the last time a new league-specific logo was unveiled. This is, most likely, because I have a bad memory. Last month, the Southern League unveiled a new logo. And, last week, the Appalachian League followed suit:
One thing that these two new league logos have in common is that they were both designed by Todd Radom.
“The goal was to create something timeless, but built with digital platforms and the varied needs of the 21st century firmly in mind,” said Radom. “The results embrace baseball’s time-honored visual culture with a verdant palette that celebrates the traditions of baseball, the sport of summer.”
“Verdant Palette” would be a great name for a college football player.
Talk about a change of pace.
I spent Saturday evening within the High Definition confines of Durham Bulls Athletic Park, but an hour’s drive northwest the following day brought me here.
Welcome to Burlington Athletic Park, located in Burlington, NC and home of the Appalachian League’s Burlington Royals. (makes sense, right?) This is not to be confused with Burlington, IA’s Community Field, the home of the Midwest League’s Burlington Bees (both are no-frills baseball destinations, hence my recycling of a post title).
I had a chance to explore downtown Burlington the following afternoon (more on that in an upcoming post), but suffice to say that this stadium is NOT located in a downtown location.
But any deficiencies in the overall ambiance are made up for by the stadium’s affordability and intimacy.
This is the sort of place where 1000 people constitutes a good crowd, and on a rainy Sunday evening that number is bound to be far less.
Strong winds and an overcast sky created a foreboding atmosphere, and the game was delayed approximately half an hour as everyone waited for a thunderstorm that (mercifully) never quite materialized.
Seeking refuge in the visitor’s clubhouse:
Some fans passed the time at the bar located down the third base line, including “Casual Fan” Tug Haines (in black) and Biz Blog reader/heckler/logo aficionado/Durham Bulls season ticket holder Scott Jennings (in blue). Tug’s spending the season traveling from ballpark to ballpark, and this was the second time this season we’ve crossed paths. Scott forwent the Bulls game and instead made the trek to Burlington because Tug and I were both there — a rare confluence of Minor League Baseball travelers.
The players, meanwhile, amused themselves with impromptu juggling and baseball hacky sack routines….
as well as by socializing in front of the home clubhouse.
This is the home clubhouse — a standalone building constructed in 1993 (the previous home clubhouse now hosts the visitors, and the previous visitors clubhouse is now used by the umpires). The marble columns give it an aura of Gilded Age opulence.
Once the tarp was removed, it became time to ascend (what I assume is) the steepest ramp in all of Minor League Baseball and find a seat.
My first vantage point was the bleacher seating behind the plate.
I sat there in order to best observe the choreographed chants of a loose affiliation of Burlington Boosters/opposing team hecklers (of which Jennings was a member).
I went into detail about the various routines in my MiLB.com piece, which includes a bounty of facts and observations from my two-day Appy League sojourn. I’d like to reiterate, however, that THIS was the funniest routine (great work by the aforementioned Tug Haines in getting it on video).
As entertaining as this heckling conglomerate was, I soon departed in order to do what I seem to do best: wandering.
The B-Royals All-Time Team has some pretty big names:
The biggest of which are also immortalized in urinal form:
But if you’re a blogger such as myself, urinal lot of trouble if you don’t provide in-game pictures from multiple vantage points. So here you go:
Concession options were quite limited (hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, etc). I went for the nachos, but that’s not the reason I’m posting this picture.
That sparkling carbonated beverage on the right is Cheerwine, a cultishly-adored cherry-flavored soda that is proudly brewed and bottled in North Carolina. I’ll have more on that particular beverage in future posts.
It was a pretty slow evening for the B-Royals, not surprising given that it was a rainy Sunday night. Business at the team store was minimal…
But a mini-stampede did form at the concession stand in the eighth inning, after a slew of $1 specials was announced over the PA.
But while the meteorological conditions were detrimental to business, it turned out to be a good evening for the B-Royals. Justin Trapp’s one-out single in the ninth inning scored Derek Hamblen, giving the home team a 4-3 walk-off win over the E-Twins.
The post-game “Run the Bases” was really funny, consisting as it did of assistant general manager Ben Abzug and a whopping two kids. My pictures didn’t come out, but here’s the aftermath.
After the game I climbed up a ladder and onto the roof, in order to check out the view from the press box.
After the visiting Elizabethton Twins cleared out of the park, announcer Nick DeSanctis gave Tug and I a tour of the stadium’s insides.
To quote the title of my favorite AC/DC song – – “It’s A Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock N Roll.”
These less-than luxurious pictures are simply the reality of playing Rookie ball in a 50-year-old city-owned facility. All the Appy League players that I spoke with seemed to possess a “happy to be here” mentality, and I imagine they’ll look back on these days with a certain fondness — still in (or barely out of) their teens, away from home, and playing baseball for a living.
The home locker room is pretty swanky, at least by comparison.
Tug got a candid shot of me eying the post-game spread (hamburger steak, potatoes, macaroni and cheese).
Note the sign in the background: DO NOT ASSAULT UMPIRES. Good to know!
Hanging off the exercise bike was this “Princess Dreams” backpack.
The backpack is filled with essential items (gum, seeds, etc) prior to each game, and carried out to the bullpen by the last relief pitcher to have allowed a home run.
As of this photo, Tyler Graham had been the last pitcher to surrender a homer — a 380-foot shot against the Danville Braves.
And that was all she wrote for this particular evening — nothing left to to do but go back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep. My room was pretty nice, but it couldn’t compare to this: