Baseball America rarely misses a chance to put together a list. So when we heard that Richmond had narrowed the list of names for its new team down to six, we decided to get in on the act.
But hold on . . . This is Richmond, Va., right? The Capital of the Commonwealth. "Give me liberty or give me death." The Confederate States of America. Where the giant cigarette stands tall.
Certainly, one of the candidates will represent the city’s rich history. So let’s review. The nominees are:
Flatheads: A catfish that swims in the James River.
Flying Squirrels: You better duck.
Hambones: Daily ham specials at the concession stands.
Rockhoppers: It is kinda fun to say.
Rhinos: If it didn’t work in Winston-Salem, let’s try it here.
Hush Puppies: Richmond ain’t that South.
So, yes, it’s safe to say that there was an underwhelming response among us all-knowing minor league baseball experts. The offerings fail to incorporate any real historical significance or capture much local flavor.
But here’s the catch:
They’re naming a minor league baseball team, not the new symphony hall, or even the mayor’s dog. The more irreverent the better has long been the standard, and even the secret to success, in the minors. (The TinCaps was panned when announced last offseason, but Fort Wayne finished third in Midwest League attendance and sold team merchandise like it was popular.)
And let’s not forget that one of the most marketable teams on a national scale in the minors is the Muckdogs. The Fishercats and Storm do pretty well too–all three teams’ success has as much to do with unique logos that appeal to kids and Little League teams as it does their names. And Richmond’s new president, Chuck Domino, is the same man who brought you the Lehigh Valley IronPigs a couple years ago–a team that has quickly blossomed into one of the minors’ best franchises.
So, I’ll agree that these names do little to soak up Richmond’s local history. But if combined with a unique logo and marketing plan, which is being designed by the creative folks at Plan B Branding, most any of the names above will work just fine (except Rhinos, anything but Rhinos).
But that’s not to say we didn’t come up with a few ideas of our own. One of my favorites, proposed by a BA correspondent, is the Richmond 500s–named for both the local NASCAR race and the nine local Fortune 500 companies.
Another winner proposed by a couple of our voters played off the history of the Richmond ballclub’s longtime temporary home: The Diamond. It was not that long ago that the ballpark that drove the Braves out of town had a bit of a rodent problem. So how about the Richmond Roof Rats or River Rats? (If you can’t laugh at yourself . . . )
"Of course, Connecticut fans might think Richmond Robbers to be an equally appropriate name," one anonymous voter suggested.
A few other notable suggestions included: the Richmond (States) Rights, the Richmond Travellers (after General Lee’s horse) and the Richmond Rockfish (bass fishing is big in the James River).
But, alas, you can only play the cards you’ve been dealt. And after 24 responses, we had a three-way tie at the top between Flatheads, Flying Squirrels and Hambones.
To break the tie, I turned to the demographic minor league baseball teams try so hard to attract: my 5-year-old son, Griffin. It didn’t take Grif long to make up his mind. Like many of his elders, my son couldn’t quite figure out what a Flathead or a Hambone is. But a Flying Squirrel? Well, let’s just say there’s a push for a new pet in the Leventhal household.
So, the unofficial is now official. My son says Richmond’s baseball future should be centered around a Flying Squirrel.
Like father like son.
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