Back in 2014, I wrote a series of blog posts about the origin of minor league team names. Since then, the minor league landscape has changed a lot. Clubs moved, adopted new names. All reasons to have a new series in which the new names are added and explained. This time the letter:
Since the Braves call almost all their minor league teams after themselves, there is no need for further explanation.
The name “Dayton Dragons” was selected by the team ownership group based on alliteration, uniqueness, logo visualization, etc. The announcement of the name was done through a “guess the name” contest through the Dayton Daily News. A local child correctly guessed the name and was given a prize package. Quite the other way around. A big thank you goes out to Tom Nichols, director of media relations of the Dayton Dragons.
A new name on the list.
When the Chicago Cubs left town after twelve seasons and signed a deal with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans of the Carolina League, the Cincinnati Reds jumped in and settled their A-Advanced team in Daytona Beach. The name Tortugas (Spanish for turtle) was chosen by the brass of the club without a name the team contest. The fans got the opportunity to name the mascot of the club though.
The reason why the name Tortugas was chosen is that it is a species that is seen a lot around Daytona Beach. Another reason was that the brass wanted a name that was not used by any MiLB or College team yet.
The “Shorebirds” name refers to the marine waterfowl of the Delmarva Peninsula where the club is located.
Down East Wood Ducks:
Also a new name on this list.
After spending 29 seasons in the California League and winning the league’s championship in its final season, the High Desert Mavericks moved to the Carolina League together with the Bakersfield Blaze after the 2016 season. The Mavericks would become the Down East Wood Ducks, a Texas Rangers affiliate. Of course, the new team needed a new name so a name the team contest was organized. Eventually, the following five names made it to the final stage of the contest: Down East Eagles, Down East HamHawks, Down East Hogzillas, Down East Shaggers, and Down East Wood Ducks. The name Wood Ducks was picked by the fans as most popular. Why the club opted for the Down East name instead of the town Kinston, is not clear but likely it is because it may attract bigger numbers of fans from the area. In North Carolina, Down East refers to two areas of Eastern North Carolina. The first is the historical group of coastal communities east of Beaufort in Carteret County. The second is anywhere east of I-95 in North Carolina in the coastal plain region. The name Wood Ducks refers to the Duck with the same name. The species is seen throughout big parts of the United States but it can be seen all year round in North Carolina.
Dunedin Blue Jays:
Like more teams in the Florida State League (see former Daytona Cubs f.e.) this team also adopted the name of the parent club.
The Bulls (AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays) were named after the original Durham Bulls of the A Carolina League, which played a big role in the movie Bull Durham. This Carolina League team, an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, moved to Danville (to become the Danville 97s) and moved to Myrtle Beach after only one season to become the Pelicans. So this Durham Bulls club has nothing to do with the original Durham Bulls.