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:
The Nashville Sounds are named the Sounds in reference to the “Nashville sound”, a subgenre of American country music that traces its roots to the area in the late-1950s. The original Sounds were a AA team but were replaced by an AAA franchise that opted for the same name in 1985.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats:
On November 6, 2003, the new management unveiled the New Hampshire Primaries name and logo, which featured an elephant and a donkey holding baseball bats, and was to be used starting in the 2004 season. The management stated that they felt it reflected a unique aspect of the state, since the New Hampshire primary, held every four years, signifies the start of the Presidential election process. Immediately, the name and logo were widely criticized. An online petition was created by two local baseball fans asking the team ownership to reconsider their decision and was covered by local newspapers, radio, and television stations. This coverage was led by a front-page article in the New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, on Sunday November 9, 2003. By the afternoon of November 10, over 1200 unique visitors had signed the petition. Later in the day, the team announced that they would not use the Primaries name after all and that they would seek public opinion on a new name.
On November 13, 2003, the team announced the “Name the Team” contest which had three phases over the following weeks. During the first phase, fans submitted suggestions. During the second phase, fans ranked their top five favorite names from the suggestions. For the final phase, fans voted for their single favorite among the top five names from the second round. On December 3, the final voting results were announced: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (1,574 votes – 24.5%), Manchester Millers (1,552 votes – 24.1%), Granite State Mountain Men (1,382 vote – 21.5%), New Hampshire Granite (1,302 votes – 20.2%), and New Hampshire Primaries (627 votes – 9.7%). The ultimate source of the name is from the fisher, often called a fisher cat in New Hampshire. On January 22, 2004, the team unveiled the new set of logos that would be used for the name New Hampshire Fisher Cats. All of the team’s logos and fonts were created and designed by Studio Simon of Louisville, Kentucky. Team colors were green, black, silver, and bronze.
The franchise began its history in the South Atlantic League in 1961 as the Tidewater Tides, playing at Lawrence Stadium in Portsmouth. The main newspaper of South Hampton Roads, The Virginian-Pilot, ran a contest to determine the team name. Although the chosen name was “Mariners,” the Pilot′s editor overruled the contest, deciding he liked the alliteration of “Tidewater Tides.”
Northwest Arkansas Naturals:
Before the team became the Naturals it was named the Wichita Wranglers. The new moniker Naturals refers to the nickname of the state of Arkansas: the Natural State.
Norwich Sea Unicorns:
New on the list.
After the Connecticut Defenders moved to Richmond to become the Flying Squirrels, the Connecticut Tigers stepped in and filled the void. The intention was to keep the moniker for one year but after a lot of positive feedback from the fans, the team kept the name. But after the club renewed the lease of Dodd Stadium with the city of Norwich, the brass decided that a new name would be appropriate. A name the team contest led to five finalists of which the club opted for Norwich Sea Unicorns. A unicorn of the sea is a different name for Narwhal.