Minor League Baseball

On Facebook, Betsy Herrington noted this sports story:

At age 50, [Roger] Clemens pitched 3 and 1/3 scoreless allowing 1 hit and striking out 2 for Sugar Land Skeeters.


Love minor-league team names.

Yes, they’re great. And there are so many teams.

Start with the Skeeters:

The Sugar Land Skeeters is an American professional baseball team based in Sugar Land, Texas. They are a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent league not affiliated with Major or Minor League Baseball.

… The team’s name “Skeeters” is a Southern slang word for mosquitoes and the result of a team-sponsored fan poll. Part of the reason for the naming is that mosquitoes are very common in the summer nights in Texas. (link)

On the Atlantic League, see Wikipedia here. The current roster of teams:

Bridgeport Bluefish, Camden Riversharks, Lancaster Barnstormers, Long Island Ducks, Somerset Patriots, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Sugar Land Skeeters, York Revolution, with the Loudon Hounds to join in 2014

The Wikipedia entry traces the tangled history of earlier teams in the league. Such tangled histories are the norm. The story of minor-league baseball in Reading PA, for example, starts with the Reading Actives, Reading Coal Heavers, and Reading Pretzels (an especially good name). And then, from Wikipedia:

Reading became home to the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox in the New York-Penn League (now the Eastern League) in 1933. The Reading Red Sox had a successful two-year run before the team moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania (this franchise is now defunct).

Five years later, Reading got another baseball franchise — this time, an unaffiliated team in the Class-B Interstate League called the Reading Chicks, …

In 1941, the Chicks affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers as the Reading Brooks, … The franchise folded after the ’41 season, and Reading was without at team for 10 years.

In 1952, the Wilkes Barre Indians, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, relocated to Reading to become the Reading Indians (this Eastern League franchise is now the New Britain Rock Cats). The Reading Indians played at Municipal Memorial Stadium for the next decade, … [this is when I knew the team, when I worked on the Reading Eagle.]

The franchise left town in 1961 and, after one year without a team, the Williamsport Grays moved to Reading to play for two years as a Boston Red Sox affiliate and for one more year as a Cleveland Indians farm team before relocating again (this franchise is now the Binghamton Mets). Reading was without a baseball team in 1966 before a new Eastern League franchise was established in Reading in 1967 as the Reading Phillies… [now] the longest current affiliation in Minor League Baseball.

Two minor-league teams with fascinating names: the Toledo Mud Hens, which gained a certain amount of fame through mentions on the tv show M*A*S*H, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, which I’ve posted about on Language Log. The Mud Hens:

The Toledo Mud Hens are a minor league baseball team located in Toledo, Ohio. The Mud Hens play in the International League, and are affiliated with the major league baseball team the Detroit Tigers, based approximately 50 miles to the north of Toledo. The current team is one of several professional clubs that have existed in Toledo since 1883. The name “Mud Hens” was first used in 1896, after the team was bought by Charles Strobel. One of the two parks where the team played that year, Bay View Park, was adjacent to marshland which was inhabited by American Coots, also known as marsh hens or mud hens, from which the team adopted their name. (link)

And from my 2007 posting on the IronPigs:

The Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania has a new minor league baseball team (class AAA, International League; affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies; to play in Coca-Cola Park, still under construction, in Allentown).  The team has been playing in Ottawa, as the Ottawa Lynx.  Now it has a new name, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (that’s how it’s spelled on the website, though you can find Iron Pigs in print), alluding to the Bethlehem Steel Company.

Finally, the current roster of teams in in Minor League Baseball (MiLB), with many wonderful names (team names that are names of current MLB teams are asterisked):

Aberdeen IronBirds, Akron Aeros, Albuquerque Isotopes, Altoona Curve, Arkansas Travelers, Asheville Tourists, Auburn Doubledays, Augusta GreenJackets, Bakersfield Blaze, Batavia Muckdogs, Beloit Snappers, Billings Mustangs, *Binghamton Mets, Birmingham Barons, *Bluefield Blue Jays, Boise Hawks, Bowie Baysox, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Bradenton Marauders, Brevard County Manatees, *Bristol White Sox, Brooklyn Cyclones, Buffalo Bisons, Burlington Bees, *Burlington Royals, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Chattanooga Lookouts, Clearwater Threshers, Clinton LumberKings, Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Columbus Clippers, *Connecticut Tigers, Corpus Christi Hooks, *Danville Braves, Dayton Dragons, *Daytona Cubs, Delmarva Shorebirds, *Dunedin Blue Jays, Durham Bulls, Elizabethton Twins, Erie SeaWolves, Eugene Emeralds, Everett AquaSox, Fort Myers Miracle, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Frederick Keys, Fresno Grizzlies, Frisco RoughRiders, *Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Great Lakes Loons, *Greeneville Astros, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Greenville Drive, *Gwinnett Braves, Hagerstown Suns, Harrisburg Senators, Helena Brewers, Hickory Crawdads, High Desert Mavericks, Hudson Valley Renegades, Huntsville Stars, Idaho Falls Chukars, *Indianapolis Indians, Inland Empire 66ers, *Iowa Cubs, Jackson Generals, Jacksonville Suns, Jamestown Jammers, *Johnson City Cardinals, Jupiter Hammerheads, Kane County Cougars, Kannapolis Intimidators, *Kingsport Mets, Lake County Captains, Lake Elsinore Storm, Lakeland Flying Tigers, Lakewood BlueClaws, Lancaster JetHawks, Lansing Lugnuts, Las Vegas 51s, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Lexington Legends, Louisville Bats, Lowell Spinners, Lynchburg Hillcats, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Memphis Redbirds, Midland RockHounds, *Mississippi Braves, Missoula Osprey, Mobile BayBears, Modesto Nuts, Montgomery Biscuits, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Nashville Sounds, New Britain Rock Cats, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, New Orleans Zephyrs, Norfolk Tides, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Ogden Raptors, Oklahoma City RedHawks, Omaha Storm Chasers, Orem Owlz, *Palm Beach Cardinals, *Pawtucket Red Sox, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Peoria Chiefs, Portland Sea Dogs, *Potomac Nationals, Princeton Rays, *Pulaski Mariners, Quad Cities River Bandits, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, *Reading Phillies, Reno Aces, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Rochester Red Wings, Rome Braves, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, *Salem Red Sox, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Salt Lake Bees, San Antonio Missions, *San Jose Giants, Savannah Sand Gnats, *Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, South Bend Silver Hawks, *Spokane Indians, *Springfield Cardinals, *St. Lucie Mets, State College Spikes, *Staten Island Yankees, Stockton Ports, Syracuse Chiefs, Tacoma Rainiers, *Tampa Yankees, Tennessee Smokies, Toledo Mud Hens, Trenton Thunder, Tri-City Dust Devils, Tri-City ValleyCats, *Tucson Padres, Tulsa Drillers, Vancouver Canadians, Vermont Lake Monsters, Visalia Rawhide, West Michigan Whitecaps, West Virginia Power, Williamsport Crosscutters, Wilmington Blue Rocks, Winston-Salem Dash, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Yakima Bears

Muckdogs, Stone Crabs, Manatees, Wahoos, Sand Gnats, and more.


4 Responses to “Minor League Baseball”

  1. JackH Says:

    The Louisville Bats might have preferred to call themselves the Louisville Sluggers, but trademarks issues would have ixnayed that. Their former name was the Louisville RiverBats, a name very similar to that of the Sacramento River Cats.

    The River Cats moved to Sacramento from Vancouver, where they were called the Canadians. The current Vancouver Canadians are a different team, the result of the relocation of the former Southern Oregon Timberjacks from Medford. Medford no longer has a professional team, but does have a collegiate team, the Southern Oregon Riverdawgs. “River” seems to be a popular word for team names.

    I would recount the history of Sacramento teams from WIkipedia, but it’s just too complicated, involving the San Francisco Missions, the Tacoma Tigers, the Fresno Raison Eaters, the Salt Lake Bees, the Hawaii Islanders, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Eugene Emeralds, and the San Jose Missions. Minor league baseball teams are promiscuous in their affections.

    The Sacramento River Cats play not in Sacramento, but across the river in West Sacramento, a factor which has no doubt contributed to their success. Other area teams include the Sacramento Mountain Lions football team (formerly the California Redwoods) and the Sacramento Gold soccer team (which, astonishingly, seems to have started in the area). Both of those teams also play in West Sacramento rather than Sacramento itself.

  2. David Craig Says:

    Two of my favorites, no longer in existence, are the old Negro League Atlanta Black Crackers and the 1960s Yankees farm club in Columbus, GA, Columbus Confederate Yankees.

  3. Team names « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] looked at the names of minor-league baseball teams, I was moved to play with possible (but unlikely) names. A […]

  4. Robert Says:

    Before the Lehigh Valley. the Phillies’ AAA team was the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, which, if it’s not the longest baseball team name, is pretty close. (Note that when the team became a Yankees affiliate, it was renamed most unimaginatively.)

    The Altoona Curve is one of my favorites.

    And of course, although the Pawtucket team’s name is officially “Red Sox”, nobody ever calls them anything but the Pawsox.

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