I have not done the most thorough job of highlighting team uniform and logo changes this offseason, but I must draw everyone’s attention to an announcement that was made in the fine state of California yesterday afternoon:
The Visalia Oaks are now the Visalia Rawhide. Sez the team:
“The name change, along with a sweeping rebranding of club logos,
colors, mascot and uniforms, and the renovation of Recreation Ballpark,
represents the start of a new era for the 63-year-old ballclub.”
“[Rawhide] invokes the agriculture and dairy industries’ prominence in Tulare
County, it’s fun and family-oriented, and it even comes with a
ready-made theme song. Not to mention that ‘Rawhide’ has always been a
slang word in baseball; both baseballs and baseball gloves are made of
rawhide. We also like the way it gives a nod of respect to another
local sports institution — the historic Cowhide football rivalry. We
believe it all ties in very nicely, and we think it’s going to be great
fun for everyone involved.”
You got to love when a team name comes equipped with a built-in theme song. Perhaps the club could also play clips from the 1938 western “Rawhide” on the videoboard — the movie stars Lou Gehrig in his only film role! It would certainly be a good idea to steer clear of the 1981 “adult western” of the same name, however.
The press release goes on to note the team’s growing tendency to align itself with Visalia’s Dairy industry, and illustrates this fact by mentioning the coverage it received from yours truly. I have finally made it to the big time! Lastly, Visalia fans have some stadium improvements to look forward to as well:
Other additions include new concessions and a new merchandise store. A
grass berm seating space, where families can spread out a beach blanket
and watch a ballgame, will also debut, as well as a kids’ play area
that will include a whiffle ball field, speed pitch, picnic table
seating and a host of inflatable games. Renovated skyboxes, new team
dugouts, and a re-laid playing surface will round out the myriad of
positive changes at the ballpark by Opening Day.
All in all, it looks like 2009 is going to be a memorable season for Visalia fans. As the club so brilliantly puts it — It’s going to be a whole “moo” ballgame.
I am a resident of New York City, so inevitably I end up attending several Mets games throughout the course of the season (against my better judgment, perhaps). One of the most recognizable Shea Stadium regulars is “Cowbell Man”, who patrols the stadium with his signature noise-making instrument. He is just one man, and yet he can be heard quite easily in a stadium with a capacity of over 55,000.
So imagine the noise-making potential of the Visalia Oaks‘ latest and greatest creation: the cowbell section. Behold:
“We’re the first ones to do this, so far as I know,” he said. “The fans
have loved it, and even the one season ticket holder we thought might be
annoyed hasn’t had a problem with the noise. It really adds to the atmosphere around here. It’s amazing what 30
cowbells can do.”
This is especially true considering that the Oaks’ Recreation Park currently has a capacity of just 1200 people. And if the club has its way, the cowbell to fans ratio is only going to increase.
“We encourage the fans to bring their cowbells back to the ballpark, even if they sit somewhere else,” said Baarns. “And on August 2nd we’re having Dairy Night at the ballpark, where we’re going to be giving away 1000 cowbells. Hopefully this thing will have gone viral by that point.”
The aforementioned Dairy Night is an annual promotion in Visalia, and for good reason. “The Dairy industry is the lifeblood of this town, and we’re proud to be associated with that,” said Baarnes.
Whether associated with the Dairy industry or not, cowbells have been a part of the 21st-century American zeitgeist. A lot of that has to do with the “More Cowbell” Saturday Night Live sketch starring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken. Not surprisingly, the Oaks’ press release announcing the Cowbell Section was full of references to this sketch (which can be watched on YouTube right here.)
“We definitely milked that sketch, no pun intended,” said Baarns. “We play clips from it during the game, and it always results in more cowbell. It’s all very amusing to watch from up in the pressbox.”