There are three things I think of when I think of America: 1776 the musical, apple pie, and minor league baseball. Minor league baseball is proof that god loves us and has a sense of humor. Minor league baseball, as evidenced by Bull Durham (a.k.a. the greatest baseball movie of all time), is like normal baseball without any of the dignity. This is a sports league in which an Orioles affiliate once wore Rugrats inspired jerseys for a game because why the hell not and where "Bellies and Baseball" is a promotional night in which pregnant women can get lifetime season tickets if their water breaks, and where a "cravings" concessions stand selling ice cream and anchovies is an annual thing. My only complaint about the otherwise flawless Parks and Recreation is that Pawnee didn’t have some terribly managed Single A team with a ridiculous name like the Pawnee Lard.
Which brings us to the subject of this post. See there’s nothing as surreal as minor league baseball, which means there’s nothing quite as surreal as minor league baseball team names and logos. So, for your enjoyment and for mine I have constructed a love letter to America’s most bizarre and beloved pastime-counting down my top ten favorite team names and logos.
10. The Las Vegas 51’s, New York Mets Class AAA affiliate
We currently live in a world where government conspiracies about aliens are the hip new thing with the young’uns and the X-Files have been revived after a good decade or so. In keeping with the times I thought it only appropriate that an alien themed logo make it onto the list. The Las Vegas 51’s is really, in my opinion, a pretty clever name, speaking to the utter bizarreness that is the city of Las Vegas (after all "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" and the same can be said of whatever is in Area 51.) Also, while the logo doesn’t seem like much I appreciate the ingenuity of turning the alien head into a baseball.
9. Cedar Rapids Kernels, Minnesota Twins Class A affiliate
Iowa’s defining characteristic is corn. If you weren’t clear on that, the Cedar Rapids Kernels are here to assure you that, no really, there’s nothing else you need to know about Iowa other than corn. Originally this logo, which really isn’t that spectacular or weird, wasn’t going to make it onto the list. But then I realized that Iowa was so desperate for something worth naming a team after that they went with what are essentially baby versions of a plant whose blandness is second only to soy beans. Also that baseball bat just looks so smug about it. It looks like the kind of guy that wears backwards snapbacks and yells drunken profanity at players during a game.
8. Akron Rubber Ducks, Cleveland Indians Class AA affiliate
Alright, when I first learned there was a minor league team named the rubber ducks, the last thing I expected was something this hard core. I expected comedic bright yellow jerseys and a mascot made out of molting feathers and regret, not this literal tire fire of intensity and rage. I guess rubber and tires are a big deal in Akron Ohio, so having a team named the rubber ducks is actually a point of local pride and not just the result of a bunch of baseball executives getting hammered in a bath tub one night (as far as I know.) Still, props Akron for taking one of the least intimidating household items and turning it into something pretty great.
7. Frisco Rough Riders, Texas Rangers Class AA Affiliate
This is probably the most nondescript of the logos that made it onto the list, and there’s not really anything that interesting about the name or the mascot. Except of course that it’s TEDDY BULLY FRIGGIN ROOSEVELT. And if you think that resemblance is unintentional I assure you it’s not. The Frisco Rough Riders twitter page is at least 50% random quotes and facts about Teddy Roosevelt. Obviously though if you’re going to fashion a team after a president you want to choose the most badass one to have ever graced the oval office. Also I don’t know if I love the fact that he’s literally walking softly and carrying a big stick, or if I’m just really concerned about Frisco’s grasp of the history of America’s foreign policiy, especially given their proximity to Latin America.
6. Eugene Emeralds, Chicago Cubs Class short A Affiliate
Ok so unfortunately no picture I can download from the internet does justice to the glowing (literally) quality of green this guy is. Like, we’re talking this yeti has been dipped in a tub of radioactive pine tar and is about to wreak havoc as some sort of granola-munching super villain in a bizarre Portlandia/Marvel cross over sketch. Even without the phosphorescent glow though I kind of love this logo? Similar to the Rubber Ducks logo, this angry abominable evergreen monster was not the image that popped into my mind upon reading the team name but is also 100% what I would expect of Oregon. Also if you image search ‘Eugene Emeralds uniforms’ your first results will be the alternative 90’s skater graffiti version and the FLANNEL version. Because Oregon.
5. Modesto Nuts, Colorado Rockies Class A Advanced affiliate
I don’t know what I love more about this logo-the fact that someone thought it was a good idea to name a team consisting of barely post 18 year old boys the "Nuts", or the fact that this almond and chestnut look like a weirdly compelling comedy duo? They look like they the stars of some hip buddy comedy, ready to take on the world, despite being anthropomorphic nuts with hands in a sport that requires legs. I believe in them.
4. Kannapolis Intimidators-Chicago White Sox, Class A Affiliate
The struggle with doing this list was deciding between putting up hilarious, but overall nice logos (such as the Nuts) versus putting up ones that were just comically terrible. Eventually, the former won out, however I couldn’t not include this glorious and poorly thought out bad marketing decision. I mean, it looks like someone made the damn thing in Microsoft Word. Also the question of where on earth its hand is coming from has haunted my dreams since I started making this list.
3. Chattanooga Lookouts-Minnestota Twins, Class AA affiliate
First I think it’s necessary to point out that this is not the only minor league team whose logo is literally just a pair of eyes (The Lake Elsinore Storm’s logo is also just a pair of really intense eyes.) I think what gets me about this one though is the extent to which the designer clearly had no investment in this. Like, the Intimidators, while a terrible logo, at least I would believe that someone tried, but I would be genuinely surprised if someone spent more than five minutes on this. After all Lookouts, while kind of a stupid name, at least has potential! You could make it a pair of binoculars, or a pirate in a crow’s nest, or I don’t know a dude getting beaned with a baseball while someone cries "Look out!" The only thing more lazy is perhaps their mascot which, for the life of, me I cannot tell if it’s a bird or an anthropomorphic ball cap.
Credit: Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
It’s like the creepy Escher print of baseball mascots!
2. Biloxi Shuckers-Milwaukee Brewers, Class AA affiliate
Ok I don’t even know what to say about this logo other than I love it so much. Somehow Biloxi managed to take one of the least threatening organisms imaginable and turn it into the most intimidating mascot I’ve seen in any sport. I’m seriously tempted to go to the team store and buy their "Shuck yeah!" t-shirt because you know what are two things I love? Puns and this mascot. If I were a wizard this mascot would be my patronus. A patronus that would take you around back and break your knee caps if you tried to make fun of how weirdly pink and fleshy it is.
1. Montgomery Biscuits - Tampa Bay Rays, Class AA Affiliate
First off I would like to thank you all for accompanying me on this wonderful, surreal journey. I trust that you find its culmination in this magnificent, butter battered muppet as beautiful as I do. Of course, only the American South could give us something as simultaneously terrifying and delicious as this beautiful bastard. Looking at him makes me want to run and hide, but run and hide at the nearest Bojangles biscuit franchise so I can give myself a heart attack via excessive butter intake. Because this logo is so great, here have current Orioles rule five pick Joey Rickard rocking his Montgomery Biscuits hat from his double A days.
Photo Credit: MiLB.com
Why is the biscuit lurking suspiciously behind the ‘M’ like it’s up to no good? Is that slab of butter supposed to be a tongue? Why does a biscuit need gloves? These are questions that the world does not need answered.
Anyway for those of you that don’t live near or can’t afford regular trips to see the Birds, I hope you get a kick out of going to your local minor league team this summer. Whether for the bizarre mascots, unorthodox promotions, or general lack of dignity, minor league baseball will always have a special place in my heart. I hope you’ve enjoyed this surreal adventure as much as I have, and happy baseball season.
Emma Koch is a religious studies student who grew up in Baltimore and is currently living in Chicago. An avid O’s fan, she is still learning how to deal with this whole not living in the same town as your favorite team thing. She has lots of feelings about baseball and other sports which you can read about at her blog ipraythelordmygoaltokeep.tumblr.com
The stories presented as part of the 2016 Camden Chat Opening Day Marathon are written by members of our community. To add your voice to the site please consider writing a FanPost.