There is something that annoys me in Minor League baseball. And that thing is minor league teams that just copy what their parent club’s name is. It is, in a way, almost insulting to the city that hosts the team plays in, making it impossible for that team to truly build a unique identity. To be sure, there are exceptions- the Pawtucket Red Sox have been around since the 70s and it seems inconceivable to think of them as anything else- but in general, they are generic names that make it impossible for the team to truly represent the town it plays out of.
So, today, I declare war on most of the Copy-Pasted Minor League Team Names…. after the jump:
Pawtucket Red Sox
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll give the Red Sox a stay of execution due to the fact that they’ve had the name so long. In addition, they often are referred to as the “PawSox”, so in practice they do have something of a localized name. That said, if they were to get a new name, I’d go with the Slaters, the name of the Pawtucket team in the 1940s, named for Sam Slater, who founded the cotton and textile industry of the area.
Gwinnett is one of those teams where there isn’t even that much of a attempt to hide that it’s basically an extension of the parent club. They are owned by the Braves, they left Richmond to be closer to the Braves, and, well, as you can see, they have the Braves nickname. I, for one, believe it’d be better if they were called the Gwinnett Buttons, for founding father and Declaration of Independence signer Button Gwinnett, who Gwinnett County is named for.
Like the Pawsox, you could argue that Iowa has been the Cubs for so long now that it might as well stick with the name. I, however, will not. Until the 1980s and the start of the Cubs affiliation, they were called the Iowa Oaks. Why did they change? I don’t know! They should go back to it.
Oklahoma City Dodgers
What was wrong with Oklahoma City 89ers or Oklahoma City Redhawks? I know it has somewhat to do with the fact that the Dodgers bought the team between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but it was a bad thing to do. Go back to 89ers or Redhawks, Oklahoma City.
A team that is going to change it’s name! Personally, I’d have gone with the “Binghamton Twilight“, in honor of Binghamton’s Rod Serling, but among the possible choices they give, I’d go with Rumble Ponies for no reason other than it’s bizarre nature. It’s a reference to the many carousels in Binghamton, by the way.
Reading Fightin Phils
Okay, the fact they modified the name like that will earn them a pass.
Oh, look, another Atlanta affiliate without a local name! Congratulations, you are now the Mississippi Blues.
I don’t know a thing about Springfield, Missouri. Sadly, the most common non-Cardinals name for teams from there is…. “Midgets”. That won’t work. However, Springfield is called the “Queen City of the Ozarks”, so I’ll say they should be called the Springfield Ozarks. It’s no less crazy than “Colorado Rockies”.
San Jose Giants
Ah, the San Jose Giants. They are one of the many reasons why the Giants have not let the Athletics move to San Jose, a figurative flag that claims the city as San Francisco Giant territory. Once, though, they were called the San Jose Bees… but now the Salt Lake City team has that name, so it wouldn’t work. So, I suggest they pay tribute to that old song and call themselves… The Way of San Jose. Or maybe go with the old-time name of San Jose Prune Pickers, which the team in San Jose used in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
For years, they were called the Cannons. What was wrong with that name? Go back to it.
Salem Red Sox
Sadly, this is Salem, Virginia. I say that because Salem, Massachusetts would have provided plenty of fine name-picking material. I’d go with Avalanche, their name before the Red Sox name was adopted.
Dunedin Blue Jays
A Florida-based minor league team for a Canadian team called the Blue Jays. How the hell is it not named the Dunedin Snowbirds?
Lakeland Flying Tigers
Again, the name is changed enough where it’s unique.
A tough one, given the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays exist and they need a name that clearly differentiates the two. It could be something as simple as being like Lakeland or Reading and changing the name just enough to be a truly unique nickname. Perhaps the Tampa Little Yanks or something like that.
Palm Beach Cardinals
The Palm Beach Palms. That was simple.
St. Lucie Mets
The original Navy SEALS and Frogmen trained in nearby Fort Pierce, so how about name the team the St. Lucie Frogmen?
South Bend Cubs
Seriously? You have a team in South Bend and you can’t come up with a nickname? I mean, obviously you aren’t going to call them the Irish or anything, but why not the Victors or the Horsemen? Or, y’know, go back to the pre-Cubs name of the Silverhawks? I mean, I get the Cubs are a big name, but, c’mon, have some background.
Oh, look, another Atlanta affiliate without a local nickname. What a shock. Anyway, they could easily go with the 1910s Rome team’s nickname, the simple-but-effective Rome Romans.
Staten Island Yankees
They are close enough to the Yankees themselves that I might give them a pass, but I’d go with the Staten Island Ferrymen.
Bring back the old Norwich Navigators name. Or maybe the Connecticut Defenders.
I like the name they had in the 1980s: the Helena Gold Sox.
Grand Junction Rockies
The Grand Junction Rivers. Because they are on the Colorado River, get it? Okay…. I’m running out of energy.
The entire Appalachian League
…Which means the Appalachian League,which has no “local” names whatsoever, will have to wait for another time….
Way back in the last century – I asked the general manager of the Orlando Twins – why they were called the Twins and not the Panthers (Ok – that also the football team) — he told me that it was cheaper because they would get hand-me-down jerseys from the level above == so that in 5 or 6 years whosoever wore number 3 would be wearing the uniform of Harmon Killerbrew. But then the MLB teams figured out that they could see the game-worn uniforms to fans and make money –and now there are a bunch of people who collect minor league jerseys and t-shirts and pennants. So – I would say you are right — let the locals use the local names (wasn’t the Pawtucket team originally the Claim-eaters?
My local minor league team was known for years as the Clearwater Phillies. I get what you mean, lacks any kind of originality.
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