Origin of Minor League Team Names, a Reprise: T

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:


Tacoma Rainiers:
After Oakland left the Tacoma Tigers in 1994, the team became associated with the nearby Seattle Mariners in 1995, whose Triple-A team for the previous ten seasons had been the Calgary Cannons. Tacoma adopted the Rainiers name in part as a tribute to the Seattle Rainiers minor league teams that played in Seattle from 1938 to 1964 in the PCL, and again from 1972 to 1976.

Tampa Tarpons:

Tampa Tarpons Primary Logo - Florida State League (FSL) - Chris Creamer's  Sports Logos Page - SportsLogos.Net

The only new name on this list.
For years the team was named after the Yankees, the parent club that also owns the team. Before the 2018 season, the team rebranded and adopted the name Tarpons, after a previous team with the same name that called Tampa home from 1957 to 1988. The name change came without any name the team contest. A Tarpon is an eight feet bit tropical fish.

Tennessee Smokies:
After five years doing without, affiliated baseball returned to Knoxville in 1972 when the White Sox moved their AA team there. After a couple of affiliation changes, the team re-introduced the historic moniker Smokies again in 1993. The team’s nickname, “Smokies”, refers to the Great Smoky Mountains mountain range which permeates the region; mountains in the chain are often clouded in a hazy mist that often appears as smoke rising from the forest.

Toledo Mud Hens:
Several Minor League teams played in Toledo in the late 1880s. In 1896 the team acquired the nicknames “Swamp Angels” and “Mud Hens” due to the ballpark’s proximity to marshlands and waterfowl. “Mud Hens” gained popularity and has stuck with most of the Toledo teams ever since. Perhaps the most famous Mud Hens fan is Toledo native Jamie Farr, who starred in the role of Max Klinger in the TV Series M.A.S.H. and who wore a Toledo Mud Hens cap quite often.

M*A*S*H (Klinger writes home) My Favorite Joke! - YouTube

Trenton Thunder:
When the London Tigers moved to Trenton, they adopted the Thunder Moniker despite remaining a Tigers affiliate. After a name- the –team contest the name was chosen out of the four best contributions. According to the ten-year –old who won the contest, thought the team would be a very good team that deserved a lot of thunderous applause. The name would give the club a big flexibility in creating merchandise.
A big thanks goes out to Mr. Burnham of the Trenton Thunder, who send me the above explanation.

Tri-City Dust Devils:
This Tri-City team is located in Pasco Washington and plays in the Nortwest League. The team moved from Portland in 2001 when the Albuequerque Dukes moved to Portland to become the new AAA Portland Beavers. A Dust Devil is a strong, well-formed, and relatively long-lived whirlwind, ranging from small (half a metre wide and a few metres tall) to large (more than 10 metres wide and more than 1000 metres tall). The primary vertical motion is upward. Dust devils are usually harmless, but can on rare occasions grow large enough to pose a threat to both people and property.
On October 30, 2000 Rosalie Swanson of Richland was selected out of several entries in a contest to name the new Northwest League baseball franchise in Pasco, and the Tri-City Dust Devils were born. Swanson’s submission edged out the Rattlers in a close decision. Other ideas for a mascot included the Fire, Black Sox, Triplets and Badgers. For her winning entry, Swanson earned season tickets for life. Since the area around is very dry and windy during the summer, dust devils are not a rare occurrence.
I’d like to thank Tim Gittel, vice president of business operations of the Tri-City Dust Devils, who sent me the information above.

Tri-City Valley Cats:
This Tri-City team is located in Troy in the state of New York and plays it’s games in the New York – Penn League.
The name Tri-City is based on the three nearby cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, which make up New York State’s Capital District.
The team got the name after a name-the-team contest.
The name Valley Cats is a nice example of a fantasy name by putting two words together. The word valley can be explained because of the area. The team is on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College…so that’s where the “Valley” comes from. “‘Cats” has no tie to the area…just a name they liked.
I’d like to thank Mr. Chenes of the Tri-City Valley Cats, who e-mailed me the above mentioned information.

Tulsa Drillers:
The Fayetteville Drillers took their name with them when the team moved to Tulsa OK in 1977.
Since Tulsa is home to the oil industry, the name is very fitting. Until 1976 Tulsa had an AAA team named the Oilers (also a link to the oil industry).

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