Origins of Minor League Team Names, a Reprise: M

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

M

Mahoning Valley Scrappers:
The Scrappers are in the New York-Penn League since 1999. They took a spot vacated by the Erie SeaWolves, who moved up to the AA Eastern League. I found the following explanation on the Scrappers’ website. To me, it is a bit questionable, but since the team is writing this, I am accepting it:
A scrapper is an individual who fights, wrangles and battles or a bulldog that battles to victory on a daily basis.
The name is synonymous with the industrial nature and attitude of the Mahoning Valley. The Mahoning Valley has maintained a strong industrial and manufacturing core throughout its existence. Though the industrial base has changed and will continue to evolve in the future, the undying spirit and commitment of the citizens of the Mahoning Valley will never falter. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ name and logo was developed to embody that spirit and personality. The fighting spirit of the people of the Mahoning Valley is manifested in the junkyard dog style logo. It reflects the resiliency of the people of the Valley. A junkyard dog never backs down and will fight until it wins. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers will provide an opportunity for the entire Mahoning Valley to gather and enjoy what is right with the Valley. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Eastwood Field will play an integral role in the Mahoning Valley’s efforts to continue the regional approach to development and progress.

Memphis Redbirds:
After the PCL expanded to Durham and Memphis in 1998, the Cardinals took their AAA team, the Louisville Redbirds to Memphis and the team adopted the same name.

Midland Rockhounds:
Amateur geologists are called Rockhounds. The town of Midland is situated in the Permian Basin. This is a sedimentary basin largely contained in the western part of the U.S. state of Texas and the southeastern part of the state of New Mexico. It reaches from just south of Lubbock, Texas, to just south of Midland and Odessa, extending westward into the southeastern part of the adjacent state of New Mexico. It is so named because it has one of the world’s thickest deposits of rocks from the Permian geologic period. Since there was no information on the website and I didn’t get an answer by e-mail, this was the best I could find. It is not 100% water tight, but I think it is pretty plausible.

Mississippi Braves:
The Mississippi Braves are located in Pearl MS. The team is owned and operated by Liberty Media, which also owns the Atlanta Braves, which explains the name.

Missoula PaddleHeads:
Missoula PaddleHeads Official StoreNew on the list are the Missoula PaddleHeads.
Prior to the 2019 season, the Missoula Osprey announced they would change their name. After a name the team contest, PaddleHeads earned the most votes of the remaining names. What is a PaddleHead?, I hear you ask. Well, the antlers of a moose are called paddles. And that explains the name paddle head. But paddle also refers to kayaking, a sport that can be practiced in Missoula on the Clark Fork, Blackfoot and Bitterroot rivers. Also, a movie named “a River Runs Through It” was shot in Missoula.

Modesto Nuts:
The Nuts adopted their current name in 2005 after the team’s affiliation with the Oakland Athletics ended. Before then, the team was known as the Modesto Athletics (or A’s). The new name was chosen to reflect the several types of nuts that are grown in the region.

Montgomery Biscuits:
The Biscuits’ owners selected the team’s nickname from an entry in a “name the team” contest, due in part to the potential marketing and pun possibilities (ex. “Hey, Butter, Butter, Butter” or the team’s souvenir store, the “Biscuit Basket”). During games, biscuits are shot from an air cannon, into the stands. It is also said that the name is chosen because the Biscuit is something typical from the South.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans:
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ origin lies in Durham, NC, where the team was the original Durham Bulls in the Carolina League, immortalized in the flick Bull Durham. After the 1997 season, the team relocated as AAA baseball was coming to Durham. The team spent the 1998 season in Danville as the Danville 97s. In 1999, the team moved to Myrtle Beach.
The Pelicans are named after the American white pelican that lives in the area.

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