We’ve all heard the old saying, “You are what you eat,” but lately Minor League Baseball has taken it to a new level. Nearly every day there’s a new team introducing a new name for a day, and it almost always seems to be based around food. The craze grew so rapidly this year that it would be easy to make a full menu using only food from minor league team names.
So dust off home plate, tuck a napkin into your collar and get ready to feast on Baseball America’s minor league menu.
Waffles: Each Sunday home game this season, the Richmond Flying Squirrels become the Waffles. The games are played just after noon, a perfect time for a Sunday brunch in Virginia’s capital city. With jerseys that look like waffles and lettering that mimics syrup, it was easy to see why anyone (even squirrels) would want to come out to The Diamond for an early game.
Bacon: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs for years have made a name off of bacon and bacon-related products. Last year, they went full hog and played as the Bacon for every Saturday home game. Their Bacon U.S.A. jerseys really sizzled, too.
Pork Roll: On Aug. 18, the Lakewood BlueClaws will become the Jersey Shore Pork Roll. If you’re from a region outside of the northeast, you’ve probably never heard of pork roll, a pork-based meat product served in slices. If you’re from the northeast, however, you know the never-ending war over its name. Some people call it pork roll. Some people call it Taylor Ham. The debate has raged for generations and is unlikely to abate any time soon. No matter what you call it, you can head to FirstEnergy Park next Friday and cheer it on to victory.
Hush Puppies: Sure, there’s no minor league team called the hush puppies . . . yet. The Gwinnett Braves are changing their name next season and Hush Puppies is one of the choices up for consideration. These sweet bits of deep-fried cornbread dough typically go with barbecue and are a Southern staple. While it’s no certainty that this team will ever exist (though it would surprise nobody if merchandise showed up in Gwinnett for a What Could Have Been Day), it’s certainly the most delicious of the contenders for Gwinnett’s new name.
Biscuits: No, this isn’t a name-for-a-day, but biscuits are definitely a delicious side dish. In fact, you could probably take a slice of the Pork Roll (or Taylor Ham!) and use the biscuit to make a delicious (?) cross section of the south and northeast before you get to your main entree. The author isn’t a particular fan of butter, but Montgomery’s anthropomorphic biscuit with a pat of butter for a tongue is one of the best logos in the minors.
Salt Potatoes: For their version of “What If Night,” the Syracuse Chiefs last week became the Salt Potatoes for a game. The dish is a simple concoction of salt, potatoes and butter, and was a staple of the diets of workers in the area in the 1800s. Maybe not the most nutritious thing in the world, but they definitely fit among minor league appetizers.
Tomatoes: On July 29, Sacramento—normally the River Cats—became the Tomatoes for the day. The jersey were designed to honor Sacramento as one of the nation’s foremost farming hubs. The jerseys were auctioned to benefit Team Chris. The Tomatoes are clearly the only piece of produce on this menu.
Tacos: This isn’t a one-off, either, but it’s also not Fresno’s permanent name. The Fresno Grizzlies play as the Tacos every Tuesday home game and in the process have created a bit of a marketing phenomenon.
The team sells so much Tacos-based merchandise that they’ve created a separate website to store it all. There are 13 different Tacos hats for sale at the shop, plus gear for each of the four different team meats—carnitas, carne asada, lengua and al pastor—including jerseys, hats, pennants, shot glasses and more.
Jumbo Shrimp: The Jacksonville Suns abruptly joined the new name craze last offseason, announcing in the winter that the team would become the Jumbo Shrimp. These aren’t cocktail shrimp, or butterfly shrimp, or popcorn shrimp, they’re Jumbo Shrimp, which makes them perfect for a main meal. If you’re not sure how to prepare your shrimp, head on over to the Shrimp Shack for some inspiration.
Barbecue: On Thursday, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (a name already synonymous with bacon) will turn back the clock to 1977 for a “Fauxback” night and become the Lehigh Valley Barbeque. They’ll wear special jerseys, sell special hats and sell pork sandwiches at concession stands around Coca-Cola Park. Lehigh Valley didn’t have a team in 1977, but with this evening the IronPigs are allowing fans to imagine what it would have looked like. The game will be played against Charlotte, so maybe the Knights could revert to their Pitmasters alter-ego from earlier this year and help Lehigh Valley with the cooking duties.
Steamed Crabs: Everybody knows that crabs (particularly in cake form) are a Maryland specialty. The Aberdeen IronBirds are jumping on the food trend this Friday with Steamed Crabs night. They might be a little pricier than barbecue, tacos or shrimp, but they definitely belong on the MiLB menu.
Plates: On Aug. 10, the Rochester Red Wings will change their name to the Rochester Plates, paying homage to the “garbage plate,” a local, layered dish. It feature a pile of macaroni salad, two hamburger patties (or hot dogs), home fries, onions and hot sauce as the topper. Stunningly, the “plate with all that garbage on it” hasn’t taken off nationally.
Green Chile Cheeseburgers: The Albuquerque Isotopes turned one of their regional dishes into a jersey this year, too. What’s more, they unveiled it while Fresno was in town. The Grizzlies, despite being the road team, wore their Tacos jerseys and put on a food fight of epically delicious proportions.
Whoopies: On Monday, the Reading Fightins staged their annual morning (9:35 a.m.) game, this time with a chocolate-vanilla twist. The team played the game as in dark brown and white jerseys designed to mimic the Whoopie Pie dessert. Sometimes known as a big, fat Oreo, the Whoopie Pie is claimed as a product of both New England and Pennsylvania Amish country, so the treat is at least semi-native to the Reading area. No matter the origin, Reading made sure the fans at FirstEnergy Stadium on Monday morning had dessert for breakfast.
Baby Cakes: The New Orleans Zephyrs this season changed their name to the Baby Cakes and in the process became infinitely tastier. The name and logo—various versions of the plastic baby found inside King Cakes—were divisive initially but eventually gained enough favor to win Baseball America’s initial Logomania contest. No matter what fans think of name and logo, the Baby Cakes certainly deserve to be an option on our minor league menu.