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:
The word River refers to the Sacramento river. It isn’t the first ball club where a characteristic of the area and the word “cat” are put together to create a name for the club.
Salem Red Sox:
Another fine example of a club run and owned by the parent club with the same name.
Salem Keizer Volcanoes:
Area fans chose the nickname “Volcanoes” in a contest. The new franchise was designated as a “Salem-Keizer” team, despite its location, in order to incorporate both the history and the prestige of the larger city and state capital. The name Volcanoes refers to the area in Oregon where Salem is situated. Mount St. Helen and Mount Hood are in the neighbourhood.
Salt Lake Bees:
The current franchise dates from 1994, when Joe Buzas, a former major league player and the owner of the PCL Portland Beavers, moved the team to Salt Lake City. Known as the Salt Lake Buzz from 1994 to 2000, the team changed its name to the Salt Lake Stingers in 2001. The change was forced by a trademark dilution lawsuit filed by Georgia Tech, whose yellowjacket mascot is named Buzz. The name change coincided with a change of major league clubs, from the Twins to the Angels. On October 27, 2005, the team announced the Stingers would henceforth be known as the Salt Lake Bees, the name of the original PCL franchise which played in Salt Lake City from 1915 to 1926. The official press release read, in part: “Owner, Larry H. Miller, announced today that the Salt Lake Stingers have officially changed the teams name to the Salt Lake Bees. The new logo, colors and uniforms were also unveiled. The change brings Salt Lake baseball back to its original franchise name and look when the state’s first Pacific Coast League team was named the Bees in 1915.” The name Bees refers to the nickname of the State of Utah, which is Beehive State.
San Antonio Missions:
The current “Missions” moniker was coined with the team’s first Major League affiliation, a partnership with the St. Louis Browns in 1933. In later years the team changed the name many times; the club mainly adopted the name of the parent club. But from 1988 the name was changed into Missions again. The name missions refers to the Alamo, which used to be a Spanish mission. The current San Antonio Missions operate at AAA level. The original Missions, AA Texas League), moved to Amarillo to become the Sod Poodles. The team that took their place was the Colorado Springs SkySox. The SkySox were replaced by Pioneer League Helena Brewers that adopted the moniker Rocky Mountain Vibes.
San Jose Giants:
The name refers to the parent club that is a majority owner of this California League team with 55% of the shares.
When the New York Yankees signed a PDC with the former Phillies AAA affiliate SWB Red Barons, they bought the club and named it after iself. Next season the SWB will have a new stadium and therefore the team wanted to adopt a new name. They announced a “name-the –team” contest. But after the home field of the team was demolished and recreated, the team announced that it wanted to adopt a new name. Thus a name-the-team contest was held. The name RailRiders name was chosen. The RailRiders name recalls the area’s rail history, specifically pointing to the Laurel Line, which once connected Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and the fact that Scranton had the first commercially successful and longest operating electric streetcar line in the United States.
South Bend Cubs:
After playing several years under the moniker Silver Hawks (a car that was produced in South Bend in the 1950s and 1960s by Studebaker), the club adopted the name Cubs as it signed a two year PDC with the Chicago namesake.
After several teams named Indians in several different leagues, the current franchise came to Spokane in 1983. The team adopted the name Indians again, which dates back to 1903. The name Indians refers to the Spokane Tribe that lives in the area.
In the 2006 offseason, the Indians began a process to redesign their logo and uniforms. As per tradition, they began by avoiding the use of any American Indian imagery, but early in the process of redesign, the Spokane Nation contacted the team about officially supporting the team. In the process, the tribe gave permission to the team to adopt subtle and tasteful imagery, in order to pay homage to the team’s history and new connection with the tribe. The cooperation, called “historic” by the team, included the creation of a secondary logo written in Salish, the traditional language of the tribe.
Another team operated and owned by the parent club and also named after it.
St. Lucie Mets:
And another team operated and owned by the parent club and also named after it.
State College Spikes:
The team name “Spikes” has a threefold meaning. The club’s official logo depicts a young white-tailed deer, for whom a “spike” is an undeveloped antler, symbolic of a young team member who may develop into a Major League Baseball player. The name also refers to a railroad spike, similar to the way the name “Altoona Curve” commemorates the famous Horseshoe Curve on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Finally, baseball players have long worn shoes with spikes. The team’s official colors are Penn State navy blue, cardinal, old gold, and moonlight yellow.
Staten Island Yankees:
The SI Yankees are named after the parent club that owns 50% of the shares.
The Stockton Flyers were established as a charter member of the California League in 1941. The league suspended operations in June 1942 due to World War II. The Flyers were rechristened as the Stockton Ports to recognize Stockton’s status as an inland port city when the league resumed operations in 1946. That season, the Ports went on to win their first California League pennant. In 1947, the Ports won the California League pennant again without a major league affiliation (they had a limited working agreement with the PCL Oakland Oaks).
Owned by Stockton local Carl W. Thompson, Sr. 1971–1973, the Ports would disband after the 1972 season, coming back as an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners in 1978.
In an homage to the team in the Ernest Thayer poem the Ports were renamed as the Mudville Nine in 2000 and 2001, then returned to the Ports name in 2002.
After playing several decades under the (Sky)Chiefs moniker, the team was acquired by the New York Mets, who Metsmerized their new AAA team and called it after itself.