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:
Palm Beach Cardinals:
The Palm Beach Cardinals are owned and operated by the St. Louis Cardinals. So like many MLB clubs owning MiLB teams, the team is named after the parent club.
Pawtucket Red Sox:
The Triple-A team that is now the Pawtucket Red Sox was long ago the International League franchise Toronto Maple Leafs. After the American Association and its Louisville Colonels franchise folded in 1962 and the American League owners voted down Charlie O. Finley’s agreement to move the Kansas City A’s to Louisville in 1964, Louisville was ready for the return of baseball. In 1968 the Maple Leafs, the Red Sox’ top minor league club since 1965, were bought by Walter J. Dilbeck and moved to Louisville where they became the new Louisville Colonels, the Triple-A franchise of the Boston Red Sox. While in Louisville, star players included Carlton Fisk (1971), Dwight Evans (1972) and Cecil Cooper (1972). The Louisville Colonels made the International League playoffs in 1969 and 1972. However, in 1972 the Kentucky State Fair Board, which operated Fairgrounds Stadium, where the Colonels played, decided to convert the facility to primarily be laid out for football, though the stadium was later used by the latter-day Louisville Redbirds club. Following the 1972 season the Louisville Colonels moved to Pawtucket and became the Pawtucket Red Sox. From 2021, the Pawtucket Red Sox will be no more as the team will move to Worcester.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos:
Before moving to Pensacola in 2012, the team was located in Zebulon NC as the Carolina Mudcats. Owner of the Indy Pensacola Pelicans sold that team, bought the Mudcats and moved it to Pensacola. The Blue Wahoos nickname was decided in a fan contest run by Wendy’s (quality is our recipe) in conjunction with the Pensacola News Journal.
The team’s inaugural year in Peoria was 1983, as the Peoria Suns, a California Angels farm team that replaced the Angels’ previous Midwest League farm team, the Danville Suns. The following year, the team was given the more traditional name “Chiefs”, in reference to the Peoria tribe for which the city was named.
After being awarded an Eastern League franchise in 1992, the name was selected from over 600 entries in a name the team contest. The logo quickly became one of the most popular in Minor League baseball.
The Princeton Rays are Tampa Bay’s rookie team in the Appalachian League. The team is owned and run by the MLB team, which explains the name.
After the Pulaski Mariners announced they would leave the Appalachian League at the end of the 2014 season, the New York Yankees jumped in to fill the void. Like all teams in the Appy League, the Yankees are named after the parent club. In fact, all teams that played in Pulaski were named after the parent: Blue Jays, Rangers, Braves, Phillies. Only when the Brooklyn Dodgers were the parent club from 1947-1949, the team was called Counts.