Over the course of a long season, it's good to switch things up. Minor League teams across the country do so on a regular basis, adopting a plethora of alternate identities to complement their everyday name and look. Alternate identities encompass a wide range of often irreverent themes, gaining fans
Over the course of a long season, it's good to switch things up. Minor League teams across the country do so on a regular basis, adopting a plethora of alternate identities to complement their everyday name and look. Alternate identities encompass a wide range of often irreverent themes, gaining fans not just in the local market but nationwide.
Now it's time to decide the best alternate identity in Minor League Baseball. This article highlight eight teams nominated for the honor, with the winner being determined by you, the fans. Voting runs through Sept. 29 -- VOTE HERE -- and the winner will be announced during Oct. 2's MiLB Awards show on MLB Network.
Now, presented in alphabetical order, the nominees:
Amarillo Calf Fries (Amarillo Sod Poodles, Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks)
Calf fries -- also known as Rocky Mountain oysters -- are a beloved, albeit polarizing, fried food delicacy. The Amarillo Sod Poodles, who operate out of the Texas panhandle's second-largest city, announced their "Calf Fries" alternate identity this past March. "We absolutely love to celebrate our region's uniqueness and historic cowboy ways," said Sod Poodles president Tony Ensor. "If you have lived in Texas or the Southwest for any amount of time, you know about Calf Fries!" The Sod Poodles played as the Calf Fries seven times this season and on these nights, you could visit the concession stands and try them for yourself.
Eugene Exploding Whales (Eugene Emeralds, High-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants)
In 1970, the body of a massive sperm whale washed up on the beach in the town of Florence, Ore. Local authorities, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the best way to remove it would be to blow it up. The resulting explosion, so massive that it totaled a car parked a quarter mile away, lodged itself in the American consciousness thanks to a witty local news report that went on to become one of the first viral videos. Fifty-three years later the Emeralds, located some 70 miles from Florence, paid homage to the story's enduring appeal with a massively popular Exploding Whales alternate identity that they assumed on multiple occasions throughout the season.
Hartford Bouncing Pickles (Hartford Yard Goats, Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies)
When is a pickle not a pickle? If it doesn't bounce. This perhaps suspect line of reasoning was the basis for a 1948 Connecticut state law that targeted pickle sellers whose product was unfit for human consumption. "(If it doesn't bounce, don't eat an ounce" was the memorable tagline for a subsequent public safety campaign.) The Yard Goats, unable to resist this absurd bit of local history, suited up as the Bouncing Pickles on May 17. The logo depicts a pickle on a pogo stick, illustrating its above and beyond readiness for human consumption.
Hickory Dickory Docks (Hickory Crawdads, High-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers)
With some alternate identities, an elaborate backstory is unnecessary. "Hickory dickory dock" is one of the most well-known opening lines in the Mother Goose canon, so the Crawdads, proud representatives of Hickory, N.C., decided to capitalize. Their Dickory Docks alternate identity features -- how could it not? -- a baseball bat-wielding mouse running up a clock. The clock, understandably perturbed that a mouse has invaded its personal space, displays the time as 8:28. It's always 828 in Hickory, as that is the city's area code.
Hoosier State Tenderloins (Fort Wayne TinCaps, High-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres)
The pork tenderloin sandwich, featuring a thin, breaded cutlet far too large for any bun to contain, is beloved throughout the Midwest but originated in the Fort Wayne area. The TinCaps believe it should be Indiana's state sandwich, and therefore came out in full-throated support for a State Senate Bill that would do just that. That official recognition hasn't yet occurred, but the team raised awareness for this most important issue by playing as the Hoosier State Tenderloins four times this season.
Hudson Valley Cider Donuts (Hudson Valley Renegades, High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees)
The Renegades are the Hudson Valley's boys of summer, but when they play as the Cider Donuts they become the boys of autumn. Cider donuts are a staple in this bucolic part of New York State, traditionally complemented with a hot drink and views of beautiful foliage. The Renegades brought these vibes to the ballpark, playing as the Cider Donuts multiple times throughout the season and selling cider donuts at the concession stand at every game. The identity resulted in the creation of a new mascot named Dusty, remains in good spirits despite the fact that someone has taken a bite out of him.
Norfolk Lumpia (Norfolk Tides, Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles)
The Norfolk, Va., region is home to a large Filipino-American population, many of whom emigrated via service in the U.S. military. The Tides made their debut as the Lumpia on April 8, thereby becoming the first Minor League team to adopt a Filipino-themed identity. Lumpia -- a spring roll-like snack stuffed with meat and vegetables and served either deep-fried or fresh -- are sold by local vendors during games in which the Tides assume this appetizing alter-ego.
Springfield Cashew Chickens (Springfield Cardinals, Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals)
The Ozark Mountains region might not seem like an area in which to seek out groundbreaking Chinese cuisine, but things are often not what they seem. Sixty years ago in Springfield, Mo., chef David Leong created a cashew chicken dish which remains a local favorite to this day. The dish's popularity inspired the Springfield Cardinals to create their first-ever alternate identity, as they played as the Cashew Chickens several times this season. The team served cashew chicken at the ballpark, calling it a "miraculous combination of perfectly fried chicken, roasted cashews and chopped green onions all in a savory sauce."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.