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.
2016 marks the 25th and final season in which Binghamton’s Double-A franchise will be known as the “Mets.” What they will be known as going forward … well, that’s still unclear. But it will be one of these six choices, unveiled yesterday as part of a “Name the Team Contest.” The team will be accepting votes through June 1, because, as everyone knows, Minor League team name contests always rely on the will of the people.
Here are the choices; the italicized descriptions are provided by the team:
Bullheads — A local inhabitant of the Susquehanna River, a Bullhead is a bullhead catfish. The bullhead displays a tough and resilient character such as the Binghamton community.
Gobblers — A symbol of the rich hunting culture of the area, the “Binghamton Gobblers” honors the outdoorsman lifestyle and turkeys who call Binghamton home.
Rocking Horses — The “Binghamton Rocking Horses” celebrates the Triple Cities’ rich history as the “Carousel Capital of the World.”
Rumble Ponies — A tribute to the Triple Cities’ carousel heritage, the “Binghamton Rumble Ponies” is a herd of fierce horses that no carousel center pole can contain.
Stud Muffins — While tipping a cap to the players on the field, the “Stud Muffins” celebrates the collection of carousel horses belonging to Binghamtonians.
Timber Jockeys — Combining the fun of Minor League Baseball with the rich carousel history of the Triple Cities, the “Binghamton Timber Jockeys” pays homage to everyone that rides the carousels.
— Steve Popoloski (@SteveAtTheBMets) May 17, 2016
A fairly ridiculous half-dozen choices, to be sure, but this is the year 2016 and if you’ve been following Minor League Baseball at all over the past decade, then this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In a world that already includes Yard Goats, Chihuahuas, RubberDucks, IronPigs and Blue Wahoos, then why not add “Stud Muffins” to the mix?
Though spiedies were somehow completely neglected, all six of the choices have some tie-in to Binghamton. Bullheads and Gobblers and regional fish and fowl references, respectively, while the remaining four pay homage to Binghamton’s status as the “Carousel Capital of the World.” Did you now that, between 1919 and 1934, a benevolent businessman by the name of George F. Johnson donated six carousels to Binghamton’s local parks? The city of Binghamton website reports that “these magnificent machines still spin from Memorial Day to Labor Day at no charge or for an admission of ‘one piece of litter.'”
I am now disappointed that “Binghamton Garbage Riders” did not make the final cut. Refuse to lose!
Binghamton’s imminent rebrand comes during the team’s first season under a new ownership group, Evans Street Baseball. The franchise, perennially last in the league in attendance, had been the subject of various relocation rumors over the past decade (most recently as part of an elaborate plan that would have seen the B-Mets purchased by Main Street Baseball and relocated to Wilmington, Delaware, with Wilmington’s current Carolina League team moving to Kinston, North Carolina).
But as the “Name the Team” contest illustrates, baseball in Binghamton will be back for many a merry go-round as the team carou-sells its new identity to the masses. That’s my spin, at least, provided for your amusement. Now it’s time for the team to gauge fan reaction by taking a gallop pole. I could make more jokes — the neigh-sayers are already telling me to stop — but for now I’ll just let it ride. I’ve saddled you with too many already and now my voice is horse.
It’s important to stay grounded, but nonetheless it’s become apparent to me that this blog is over-reliant on terrestrial perspectives. In order to shake things up, then, today’s post will feature some aerial views before returning to Earth.
We’ll start things off in flyover country, as the Indianapolis Indians recently staged a pre-game stunt that was (almost) out of this world. A squadron of Navy “Leap Frogs” parachuted into Victory Field prior to August 16’s ballgame, with Rear Admiral Scott T. Craig throwing out the first pitch. What follows is the video of their practice run that afternoon, giving us a bird’s eye view of the arduous journey from air to ground.
Not quite as high-flying, but airborne nonetheless, are our fine feathered friends the Great Lakes Loons. The team staged their annual “Raining Money” promotion on August 5, in which $2000 in one dollar bills was dropped onto the field from a helicopter. This year, the mad cash scramble was preceded by an excellently-produced short film entitled “The Sleepover,” which segued flawlessly into the promotion itself.
Seeking to retain this elevated position for as long as possible, we now travel to Lakewood, NJ. On August 20 the BlueClaws held their annual blood drive, an event preceded by an awareness-raising stint of roof-living by the appropriately-named “Roofman.”
“Roofman” is also known as “Ryan Ragan,” COO of the Central Jersey Blood Center. He spent five days on the roof prior to the drive, which resulted in a prolonged period of local radio and TV news attention. Here he is, in quieter times.
91 people ended up giving blood at the BlueClaws’ drive; meaning that the Roofman’s efforts were simultaneously not in vain and “in vein.” Life sure can be funny sometymes. And, yes, that was an intentional spelling error in the previous sentence. In the spirit of the blood drive I was attempting to be “typo positive.”
We’ll conclude by focusing on a team whose spacebound aspirations may soon come to an end: the Akron Aeros. This traditionally aerodynamic entity is currently staging an online “re-branding contest,” with voting continuing through September 1.
While the option remains to keep the “Aeros” name, other possibilities include Gum Dippers, RubberDucks, Tire Jacks, and Vulcans. All of these names allude to Akron’s industrial past, primarily its status as a leading producer of rubber.
While I generally like team names that incorporate local history, it is my opinion that the alliterative pizazz of Akron Aeros remains superior to the new contenders. Will the voting public agree? Do you?
For now, things remain up in the air.
One of the biggest pieces of news from this past offseason was that the city of Pensacola will be hosting a Double-A Southern League team in 2012 (read all about it HERE).
And — surprise! — this team needs a name. Following standard Minor League Baseball operating procedure, a “Name the Team” contest has been devised and today the finalists were announced: Redbones, Loggerheads, Blue Wahoos, Mullets, Aviators, and Salty Dogs.
The Pensacola News Journal, a co-sponsor of the contest, explains: It’s a group of nicknames with ties to the U.S. Navy (Aviators), fishermen (Salty Dogs), Gulf species (Mullet, Blue Wahoo), endangered species (Loggerheads), and hunting dog (Redbone), also the name of a 1970s rock band.
The reference to Redbone being a ’70s rock band seems a little gratuitous, so I’m going to assume that writer Bill Vilona was already a fan. But beyond that this is pretty much par for the course, a consistently irreverent group of choices with ties to local wildlife and industry as well as the parent club (Redbone, natch).
Voting begins tomorrow at the newspaper’s website, and runs through the 15th. The new name will be announced on the 23rd, at which point “a logo, team colors and slogans will be created.”
Not at all surprisingly, Plan B Branding will be doing the creating. The well-established logo and ideas company has been through this identity-creation rigmarole before, with successful and highly-publicized entities such as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, and Omaha Storm Chasers.
And, apropos of nothing, Pensacola Rigmaroles is a pretty cool-sounding name.
Pensacola will become the Southern League’s second Floridian market, joining the Jacksonville Suns. Yesterday, the team sent out a press release drawing attention the exemplary way in which the team utilized its day off.
The Jacksonville Suns spent their travel day on Tuesday helping victims of last Wednesday’s tornados and severe thunderstorms in Pratt City, Ala., just north of Birmingham.
The Suns volunteered at the American Red Cross’ Pratt City Disaster Resource Center at the Scott School just blocks from where tornados damaged countless numbers of homes. Pratt City lost nearly 1,000 homes due to last Wednesday’s tornado damage.
Front Row: Jhan Marinez, Luke Montz, Kevin Mattison. Back row L-R: Joey O’Gara, Dan Jennings, Omar Poveda, Benjamin Todd Jealous of NAACP, Peter Andrelczyk, Corey Madden, and Ryan Curry.
Sometimes the segues come easy, and today is one such day. Check out Kevin Mattison in the bottom right hand corner of that picture — clearly he would be right at home at tonight’s “Mustache Mania” promotion. This celebration of upper lip follicle accumulation has been officially endorsed by the esteemed American Mustache Institute.
And speaking of promos, which I am almost always speaking of, we are fast approaching the time of year in which my inbox is inundated with YOUR promo recaps, pictures, and videos. My livelihood depends on just this.
On Tuesday, I blogged about Richmond’s “Name the Team” contest. Satisfied with my work, I then took the following day off.
But, as the saying goes: “You snooze, you looze.” And I have lost. For while I was convalescing with Country Joe records and The Roald Dahl Omnibus, a crucial development occurred in Richmond’s contest.
A “wild card” entrant has been added to the list of contenders, courtesy of CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell. What happened was this: between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday, fans were asked to submit their “wild card” name suggestions to Rovell. He recieved over 9000 responses, and chose the following (Drum Roll, please):
This is an unorthodox pick, to say the least. Today, Rovell posted on his blog that “The most common names suggested included references to American history
and the local James River. Hundreds of people wrote in for the River
Rapids or River Cats. Others picked names like the Revolution, Generals
Just one fan, meanwhile, suggested “Hush Puppies.” Despite the lack of anything resembling a common consensus, it captured Rovell’s attention for these reasons:
It has that deep-rooted Southern heritage
It’s different from what has been out there
It’s kid friendly
It has great mascot possibilities
It has an automatic concession tie-in
There is some precedent for “Hush Puppies”, since there is already a Double-A team named after a staple Southern food (the Montgomery Biscuits, natch). For the record, I did not submit any “Wild Card” suggestions. But if I had, I would have gone all meta and suggested “Wild Cards”.
At any rate, fans can cast their vote for “Hush Puppies” (or any of the other five suggestions) at the website of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. If the comments section of the Times-Dispatch is an accurate indicator of public opinion, then the local reaction to the half-dozen names on the ballot could charitably be described as “mixed”. This is understandable, given the across-the-board frivolity of the team’s choices. My guess, however, is that fans will come around to the team name (whatever it may be) once a logo is unveiled and an overall marketing game plan established.
It is worth noting that Chuck Domino, chief executive of Richmond Baseball, previously presided over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. That club has enjoyed two spectacularly successful seasons thus far, and the off-kilter name has played a huge role in how the club brands and markets itself. So, there is reason to believe that the same feat can be achieved in the Richmond market as well.
Promo of the Year Update: As of this writing (2:37 p.m. EST), Bowling Green’s “What Could’ve Been Night” maintains a slight (124 vote) lead over Fresno’s “As Seen on TV Night.” Voting doesn’t end until October 12, so this one is far from over. Vote HERE.
Also, I’m back on Twitter. For real this time: twitter.com/bensbiz
After a hectic and stressful (but ultimately satisfying) week at the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar, I have returned to New York City’s comforting embrace. What can I say? The city’s talons have a vice-like grip on my skull, and I’m okay with that.
I am also okay with the fact that it is now, completely and totally, the offseason. Since Labor Day I have been pinballing wildly between anger and denial regarding the cessation of the 2009 Minor League campaign, but peace has finally been attained. And just in the nick of time, too, because today I have one of my favorite offseason topics to write about: A Name the Team Contest!
The team in question is the Franchise Formerly Known as the Connecticut Defenders, who will be playing in Richmond in 2010 (and beyond…an article I wrote on the topic can be found HERE). Over the past two weeks, the team solicited name suggestions from fans. Over 6000 entries were recieved, and today the finalists were announced. Here they are, in order alphabetical:
Flying Squirrels: Gliding mammals that can be found in the Richmond area.
Hambones: A reference to the high-quality ham that is produced in the state of Virginia (not to be confused with the defunct literary journal, or blues guitarist Hambone Willie Newbern).
Rock Hoppers: People or animals that move from rock to rock while traversing a river are known as “Rock Hoppers”. That’s all I’ve got.
Rhinos: These are obviously not native to Richmond. But “Richmond Rhinos” sounds pretty cool, and that’s all that matters.
The name-the-team contest is being run through the website of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and those who wish to vote can do so HERE. Voting runs through October 11, and the winner will be announced on the 15th.
As a personal aside, I must express my disappointment that my entry of the “Richmond Richie Riches” was rejected. Perhaps brokering a licensing deal with Harvey Comics would have been prohibitively expensive, but such considerations did not deter the Casper Ghosts.
VOTE! — We are now in Day 5 of voting for MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year.” The Bowling Green Hot Rods’ “What Could’ve Been Night” currently enjoys a commanding lead, but there is still plenty of time for another team to come from behind. Voting ends on the 12th, at which point I will contact the winning team with messages of congratulations. I will also be seeking quotes.