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Minor-league Ballclubs Find Wacky Workforce Names Are Successful With Fans

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By Greg Pearson of the Journal Sentinel

When you name the minor-league baseball staff in Allentown, Pa., the recorded message offers this feature: “If you’d like to listen to an IronPig squeal, Press 7.”

That would be the cellphone message of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who have joined a development in minor-league ball — discovering a workforce title that encompasses native history, fan attraction and T-shirt sales.

And it seems the wackier the name, the better. Where there once were Foxes and Wizards, there now are Flying Squirrels, TinCaps and Muckdogs. image of t-shirt Right now’s nicknames pay tribute to the whole lot from a community’s primary business to a legendary NASCAR driver to, indirectly, Homer Simpson.

When the minor-league crew in Fort Wayne, Ind., was moving into a new downtown ballpark in 2009, workforce officials determined it was time for a new nickname.

The staff asked fans for identify ideas, in addition to whether they wished to maintain the previous nickname, the Wizards.

There was a lot of support for change with fans submitting 2,500 names, said Michael Limmer, vice president of marketing.

Some of these names played off the legend of John Chapman, higher generally known as Johnny Appleseed, who died and is buried in Fort Wayne. The tale of Appleseed consists of him planting seeds for apple bushes whereas roaming barefoot through a lot of states sporting his tin cooking pot on his head.

One of the Appleseed-associated names was the winner — the TinCaps.

“We would have liked something unique — to have one thing folks can determine as their very own,” Limmer said.

The TinCaps, a class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, discovered they had a winner after they opened their stadium April sixteen, 2009.

“By the top of that night time, we had already surpassed what we’d bought in Wizards gear for the entire year earlier than,” Limmer stated.

Cool nicknames and logos sell, however they do greater than that within the minors, where roster strikes often are dictated by the most important-league club.

“In minor-league baseball, we don’t management the product on the sector. The most important thing for us is our identify and our identity,” mentioned Jim Pfander, common manager of the Akron RubberDucks.

Akron is in its first season as the RubberDucks, a reputation that pays homage to the town’s ties with the manufacturing of rubber. Pfander’s grandfather worked at a B.F. Goodrich plant that was just some blocks from where the RubberDucks (Class AA, Cleveland Indians) play.

Crew officials sought three factors in a nickname, Pfander said. They wanted a name that “mirrored the blue-collar ethos of Akron.” It needed to be something children may identify with, and it needed to be “something that was just fun.”

After a contest to generate new names, 5 finalists have been turned over to a branding firm, which developed logos.

“After we obtained that tough-wanting, grimacing duck, we stated, ‘That is it,'” Pfander mentioned.

Just like the RubberDucks, the IronPigs (Class AAA, Philadelphia Phillies) honor a longtime trade.

The nickname is a play on pig iron, used within the manufacturing of steel — fitting for a area that was the house of Bethlehem Steel.

When the staff moved to Allentown in 2008, team officials requested native residents to submit names. IronPigs “overwhelmingly acquired probably the most support,” stated Jon Schaeffer, the team’s director of recent media.

Fans — and the crew — have embraced the title.

Players generally wear caps that function a strip of bacon as the brand, and uniforms with bacon-model piping down both legs.

“The name IronPigs is absolutely ingrained locally,” Schaeffer stated. “You cannot go anyplace within the Lehigh Valley without seeing an IronPigs T-shirt.”

Albuquerque’s minor-league staff moved there from Calgary in 2003. A name-the-staff contest got a fortuitous boost from an episode of “The Simpsons” that aired around that point.

In “Hungry, Hungry Homer,” Homer Simpson goes on a hunger strike to keep his favorite minor-league staff — the Springfield Isotopes — from moving to Albuquerque.

Isotopes was a runaway winner when fans voted on a brand new name, mentioned John Traub, general supervisor of the category AAA Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate. Along with paying tribute to Homer, it is also a tip of the cap to New Mexico’s nuclear science trade.

This is how another minor-league names got here up with their names:

Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA, Detroit Tigers): “M*A*S*H” followers will remember Corp. Klinger longing to see his Toledo Mud Hens play. The group’s history goes back a lot further than the Korean Battle.

Toledo’s minor-league crew was based in 1883, and in the late 19th century moved to a stadium exterior Toledo to skirt the city’s blue legal guidelines, which restricted alcohol gross sales, said Rob Wiercinski, the staff’s group relations and communications director.

The park was close to marshland inhabited by American Coots, additionally know as mud hens. The name stuck to the ballclub.

“The development within the last 10 to 15 years is to come up with crazy nicknames,” Wiercinski said. “This crew’s had a loopy nickname since 1896.”

Batavia Muckdogs (Class A, Miami Marlins): Batavia is in a farming area in western New York state that has a wealthy, darkish soil, known as “muck.”

“It nearly looks like asphalt,” mentioned Michael Ewing, assistant basic manager.

When fans voted for a brand new group name in the late 1990s, many supported a reputation that paid tribute to the wild canine that roam the farmland. The Muckdogs had been born.

Kannapolis Intimidators (Class A, Chicago White Sox): Race automobile driver Dale Earnhardt, a Kannapolis, N.C., native, grew to become a minority proprietor of the workforce in 2000, and the nickname was changed to his NASCAR handle, “Intimidator.”

Earnhardt was killed in February 2001 in a crash on the Daytona 500.

“He by no means noticed them play a game as the Intimidators,” said Josh Feldman, director of media relations.

In Earnhardt’s honor, the workforce retired No. Three, which was Earnhardt’s automotive quantity.

Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA, Cincinnati Reds): The wahoo is a game fish discovered off Florida’s coast. The blue in the workforce nickname represents the blue sky and water of a group that sits on the Gulf of Mexico. It also honors the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy flight crew, which is based in Pensacola, stated Tommy Thrall, the group’s broadcaster and media relations coordinator.

Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA, New York Mets): Space 51 of UFO folklore is about eighty miles from Las Vegas. An alien-themed logo and alien mascot, named Cosmo, add to the staff’s otherworldly image.

Corpus Christi Hooks (Class AA, Houston Astros): With a stadium set near a shipping channel that leads to the Port of Corpus Christi, the title honors the region’s fishing trade.

Tri-Metropolis Mud Devils (Class A, Colorado Rockies): Set within the desert-like local weather of southeastern Washington, the team is named after the whirlwinds that can kick up swirling towers of dust, often called dust devils.

Several years in the past, the workforce’s season opener was met with a huge mud storm.

“We thought, ‘Effectively, this is sensible,'” mentioned Derrel Ebert, the staff’s basic manager.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA, San Francisco Giants): The team moved to Richmond in 2009, and a naming contest settled on the Flying Squirrels.

The title obtained a lift from Chuck Domino, the group’s chief executive supervisor.

Earlier than a group name was chosen, Domino was getting a haircut, and the barbershop wall had a poster of uncommon animals in Virginia, together with the flying squirrel.

“He said, ‘That’s going to image of t-shirt be our nickname,'” based on Jon Laaser, director of broadcasting and communications.

“A lot of people needed us to name our mascot Bullwinkle,” Laaser mentioned. Because of trademark points, the team needed to settle on Nutzy — a superhero model of a flying squirrel.