As we approach the halfway point of the MLB season, I think it’s only fitting to pay tribute to the seasons that never were. I’m talking of course about minor league baseball. On summer nights at small parks across the heartland of America, fans of the sport gather for fireworks nights, taco Tuesdays, and dollar beer days. They cheer young players hungry for a shot at the big leagues or former pros who still just want to play ball. There are so many things to love about minor league baseball, one of which is the branding. It’s fun, quirky, bizarre, weird, strange, awesome, spectacular, inventive, and creative. In the summer without minor league ball, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Minor League brands.
10. Albuquerque Isotopes
I mean, how can you not start the list right here? This Triple-A minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies takes their name right from The Simpsons, a nice slice of Americana. In the show version of the team, which is called the Springfield Isotopes, Homer overhears of a plot to move the team to Albuquerque. To save his beloved team Homer goes on a hunger strike. In our universe, I wonder if Homer would be a fan?
Hear that folks? He said “Go, ‘Topes!”
9. Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Fans love the branding on this Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies. The loveable nature of the IronPigs is evident in their mascots FeRROUS and FeFe. If they aren’t the model of the American couple, I don’t know what is.
8. Fort Wayne TinCaps
A Class-A Padres affiliate takes their name and likeness straight from American Folk Hero Johnny Appleseed. And while legalities probably prevent using the Appleseed name, young fans can run the bases with Johnny Tincap! Upstart Padres superstar Fernando Tatís Jr. was a Tincap for 117 games in 2017 back when he was in the minor leagues.
7. Vermont Lake Monsters
The Oakland A’s have to go on a cross-country trek to check in with their Class-A minor league affiliate – the Vermont Lake Monsters. Champ, the Lake Monster of Lake Champlain, only had to wait 385 years from the time he first revealed himself to humans to the day he could slither on land to catch his first Lake Monsters game in 1994.
6. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
I sincerely hope that this Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins uses the Mario Kart “Wahoooooooo” sound clip whenever a home run is hit. It’s nice to see this team isn’t taking their name and logo too seriously.
5. Amarillo Sod Poodles
What the heck is a Sod Poodle? Who cares? I love it! Once again the San Diego Padres find a gem of a branded team in the minor leagues. The Sod Poodles make their bones deep in the heart of Texas in the Double-A Texas League.
4. Montgomery Biscuits
I find food branding to be some of the funniest and most clever minor league naming conventions. This one takes the… Biscuits ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Not only is their cartoon logo hilarious and delicious but their mascot, Big Mo, is apparently some kind of aardvark (maybe?) who presumably eats biscuits. FANTASTIC! On top of that, they launch actual biscuits at the crowd during games. I’m never going to be excited about a t-shirt toss ever again.
3. Syracuse Salt Potatoes
You may know them as the Syracuse Mets, mild-mannered Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. But they will always be the Salt Potatoes to me! Salt Potatoes are a staple of Central New York and as such the Mets ‘rebrand’ for a few weekends out of the year. I was introduced to the salty summer treat by my wife’s family, and they can be found at county fairs, the Great New York State Fair, and in backyard cookouts across Central New York. Why Tim Tebow has even donned the Salt Potatoes hat a time or two.
2. Wisconsin Udder Tuggers
One more temporary rebrand for you.
Questions: If you’re the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and you want to salute cows, what do you do?
Answer: You rebrand as the Wisconsin Udder Tuggers
That’s what this Milwaukee Brewers Class-A affiliate did in 2019 for Salute to Cows Night. It went over huge with fans, merch sales skyrocketed, and they landed at number 2 on this list.
1. Rocket City Trash Pandas
They could have gone with Rocket City Raccoons and no one would have thought any less of them. But had they gone the conventional route they would not have been number one on this list. Let’s start by unpacking the name. They call Madison, Alabama home. Located in Madison County is Huntsville, Alabama AKA Rocket City which is the home of NASA’s rocket-propulsion lab. The name was created by and voted on by fans in part because,
“no creature in our galaxy is as smart, creative, determined and ingenious a problem solver – dedicated to the challenge at hand – as our local raccoons!”
And also – the mascot is a raccoon, riding a trash can as if it were a rocket. OUTSTANDING! In New Jersey, we shoo them away with brooms, in Alabama, they build rockets out of trash cans. INCREDIBLE!
Just a few more quick notes on the Trash Pandas. They are the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. Former Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop Jay Bell is their Manager. And they have yet to play a professional game. 2020 was set to be their inaugural season, canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. So go forth in 2021 you Trash Pandas and make Rocket City and the world proud!
- / 1 year ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.