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.
We continue with the letter I. No additions to this part of the alphabet.
Idaho Falls Chukars:
After the San Diego Padres left the Idaho Falls affiliate behind after the 2003 season, the Kansas City Royals jumped in. After the team was called after the parent club in the previous three seasons, the club organized a fan vote to choose a new name. An important reason was that the team did not know how long the affiliation with the Royals would last, so looking for their own identity was a “must.” The most popular name that was voted for was Eagles. But the brass didn’t like that as it was too common. So the next step was thinking about another name. The team’s radio broadcaster John Balginy memorized that his dad went Chukar hunting back in Kansas. He proposed the name and it stuck.
When the baseball club in Indianapolis was founded in 1902, the owners simply chose to let the name refer to the name of the state.
The Inland Empire 66ers:
It is obvious that the name comes from route 66 that runs through San Bernadino county.
Looking for a new identity and a way to include the fans in rebranding, the front office held a competition to rename the organization in 2003. Season ticket holder, Phil Westbook’s suggestion and a desire to brand the team to the entire Inland Empire led to the team taking on the name Inland Empire 66ers.
Triple-A baseball came to Iowa’s capital city in 1969, as the Iowa Oaks of the American Association began to play. The Oaks were affiliates of the Oakland Athletics (1969–1973), the Chicago White Sox (1973–1974 and 1976–1980), and the Houston Astros (1975). In 1981, the team affiliated with the Chicago Cubs and adopted the nickname of the parent team, although it is often shortened to “I-Cubs” by fans and media to avoid confusion with the major league team.