Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Grading Bird-themed Minor League Baseball Teams

Baseball's long, slow, hot, gorgeous season has begun, not just in those cities hosting Major League teams but smaller cities and towns across the country.  According to this list on Wikipedia, there are 27 minor and independent leagues in North America, many with teams named after those most endearing and non-threatening of mascots: birds.

You likely haven't heard of most of these teams unless you live in one of America's small municipalities or, like, did a project in school about minor league teams or something.  Well, friend, relax.  Let me save you the trouble of figuring out which teams have done a good job with their avian themes, and which ones are unworthy of their winged mascots.


Rochester (NY) Red Wings

So, they got their name in 1929 when they became the St. Louis Cardinals farm team (bonus points there), and a few extra bonus points for at least having a bird mascot - the NHL Detroit Red Wings aren't named for birds - but what the hell is this?  Why would they do this?  It's not a real bird, or even close.  Turn this in to a tanager or something, or a real hawk, then we'll talk.

Grade: D

Toledo Mud Hens

History has it (via Wikipedia) that the Toldeo Mud Hens were originally the "Swamp Angels" but they became known as "Mud Hens" because the swamp they played in was filled with American Coots.  A cool story, and an interesting bird to be named after, but this frigging thing doesn't look like an American Coot at all.  What even is this?  Why is this?

Grade: C-


Memphis Redbirds

This is the first athletic use of a cardinal mascot that doesn't have a yellow bill.  Do you hear that?  THE FIRST ONE!  Problem is, it's a fucking red bill instead.  Is there a shortage of orange?  What does everyone have against orange?  Adding insult to injury, the mascot has a yellow bill.  I love Memphis, but I'm furious.

Grade: B- 

Oklahoma City RedHawks

 I just want to check and see if teams are allowed to use birds that aren't red.  Is that permitted?  Did Congress pass something when I wasn't looking?  What the shit is a RedHawk and why isn't it two words?  It's not a bird ugghhh and that bat would break his beak this is the worst day of my life.

Grade: C-


Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo

Yeah!  That's what I'm talking about!  The Owls of Nuevo Laredo!  It's a baseball-playing owl!  Not a real owl, but an owl.

Grade: B+

Pericos de Puebla

Mexican league coming up big!  An adorable baseball-swatting parrot!  I can't figure out what species is, but I think it's close to something real.  I love this team and want to be its ballboy.

Grade: A-

Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz

OK so the Veracruz Red Eagles are now the fourth "Red ___" team on this list.  Mexican League I was so proud of you why'd you have to throw it all away?  The eagle isn't even red in the logo, and it's not real, and it's talons aren't big enough to grab the bad.  So many troubles.

Grade: C


Akron RubberDucks

This is the absolute worst goddamn thing I've ever seen in my life.  This is the worst day of my life.

Grade: F--

Reading Fightin' Phils

UPDATE 5/8 I didn't include this in my original post because I didn't catch the name, but holy moses is this wonderful.  Reading added the ostrich logo in 2012, wanting something different from its parent club, the Phillies (hear that, all you Cardinals and Blue Jays farm teams?).  I friggin' love it.  The logo is pretty accurate to the common ostrich, so kudos there.

Grade: A-


Springfield Cardinals

It's the same images as the St. Louis Cardinals logo, but without the balls to give it correct colors.  Yawn.

Grade: C


Lancaster Jethawks

Lancaster, CA is crazy for airplanes, so at least they shoe-horned a bird in there at all, I guess.  Nah, screw that.  What the shit is all this??  YOUR TEAM MASCOT DOESN'T NEED TO BE A RED BIRD WITH A YELLOW BEAK YA JERKS.

Grade: D


Myrtle Beach Pelicans

YES.  Beautiful. I love the use of pelicans as a mascot, and I'm on record as saying so.  This logo does a great job not overcompensating for a nontraditional mascot by making it overly aggressive or tough.  I love the look.  However, I have to dock points because American White Pelicans don't like in South Carolina.  Sorry, but I can't let that slide.

Grade: B+


Dunedin Blue Jays

It's a copy of the Toronto Blue Jays logo, but the Toronto Blue Jays logo is beautiful.  Blue Jays are such a great bird to have as a mascot, stylish and specific and under-the-radar.  It's a nice bandwagon to jump on, though it's not ornithologically accurate.

Grade: B

Palm Beach Cardinals


Grade: C+


Great Lakes Loons

HOW ADORABLE IS THAT? It's a loon playing baseball!  I love how sly he is, with his sleepy eyelid and smirk.  This guy rules.  The mascot gets some of the details right - especially the neck stripes - but overall it leave a bit to be desired.  The wing colors are wrong (silver on the underside would be OK), and the legs and bill should be black.  Rah Rah Great Lakes Loons!

Grade: A-

South Bend Silver Hawks

Uhhhhhh what the hell.  What the hell is this thing.  It's a green and silver hawk (parrot?) with a neckbeard and teeth.  Teeth!

Grade: F


Delmarva Shorebirds

For dumb people out there, "Delmarva" refers to the land on the east side of Chesapeake Bay containing parts of DELaware, MAryland and VirginiA.  The birding is phenomenal, primarily for the shorebirds that show up along the Atlantic coast at places like Assateague, Chincoteague, Prime Hook and Bombay Hook.  So, "shorebirds" is a fitting mascot.  What species is this, though?  Looks like a heron of some kind.  Not accurate, but love the effort.

Grade: B+


Aberdeen IronBirds

This dumb name was chosen for two reasons: the major league affiliate Baltimore Orioles is nicknamed "The Birds"; and because longtime Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. was nicknamed Iron Man.  Whatever.  This is terrible.

Grade: D


Boise Hawks

I really like this approach.  If you're going to pick a generic name, at least take a unique strategy.  I've never seen a logo quite like this, with its, like, ancient Central American (?) imagery.  It's not accurate to anything, but I still like it.

Grade: B


Bluefield Blue Jays

Yawn.  But, like, a good, deep yawn.

Grade: B-

Johnson City Cardinals

Aw look at that little guy.  I give this bonus points for not simply copying the St. Louis Cardinals major league logo, as other minor league teams have done.  Still, it gets everything wrong in the yellow bill and legs, and adds a weird black triangle in the middle of the tail.

Grade: B-


Idaho Falls Chukars

Splendid.  An unusual, specific bird.  A nice chukar/chucking pun (everyone uses "chuck" as a synonym for "throw" right?).  The colors are right.  It's cool.  Great job all around.

Grade: A

Missoula Osprey

What's so irksome about made up crap like RedHawks or IronHawks is that there are plenty of badass, native raptors just sitting there for the taking.  No one else wanted osprey, the ubiquitous neighborhood avian stunner?  So glad Missoula stepped up.  It's not a perfect logo color-wise, but it' beautiful.  What birder wouldn't wear this hat?

Grade: A-

Orem Owlz

LOL okay.  Okay.  Look, let's start with the good things:  it's a bird, and it's a cool logo.  The owl's (sorry, owl'z) head works as the ball and the bats in the talons works.  But...drop the goddamn "z" it's not 1997 anymore.  Also, there are no red owls and this is a mess.  So close.

Grade: C


Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks

Red Hawks are not real things.  Birds don't have teeth.

Grade: D+

Sioux Falls Canaries

Haha cmon, really?  Is this real?  It is?  OK.  I like it when the logo mascot is wearing a hat with a different logo on it.  The bird doesn't need a hat, he's on the hat!  Anyway, apparently the Sioux Falls team has a long history of being named the Canaries, so, cool.  It's a shame, though, that they used to be called the Pheasants and have this rad logo.  Alas.  As is, it's pretty good for a canary so I'm OK here.

Grade: B


Long Island Ducks

Is it licking itself?

Grade: D


Trois-Rivieres Aigles

It's a bald eagle, I guess, but it's not.  It's an "eagle," and "eagle" is meaningless.  This is a well-drawn logo of a dumb bird.

Grade: C


Edinburg Roadrunners

Roadrunners!  What a great mascot!  Some other versions of this logo have a little cap flying off the bird's head as it's running.  It's adorable, and perfectly fitting for a Texas team.  The colors are way off, but I appreciate the effort.

Grade: B

WHELP that's all.  There are a lot of avian teams in Minor League Baseball and we're all better off for it.  I hope you enjoyed, and if you've got a favorite team I'd love to hear it.


jkd said...

Great rundown, but man is the new Delmarva Shorebirds logo disappointing - it used to be this

NickL said...

Thanks JKD. I actually like the logo improvement (the other one looks like Mac Paint), but would like it even more if it were something real. Wouldn't Delmarva Red Knots be a cool name?

Andy said...

As of last year the Reading Fightin Phils (formally Reading Phillies) has a primary logo mascot of an ostrich.

Unknown said...

I hate everything about that re-branding

Fat Joe said...

This post seriously made my day. Why would anyone abandon the Pheasants? I need to free up room in my budget for some of these hats.

Anonymous said...

Hysterical. Great article.

Laurence Butler said...

Fantastic! These are way more enjoyable to read than baseball is enjoyable to watch.

Sana said...

Two great former teams and logos were the old Aberdeen (SD) pheasants of the old class C Northern League a Baltimore Oriole minor league team and the former Thunder Bay (Ontario) whiskeyjacks with a Gray Jay on the cap

Doug Johnson (Minnesota)

Nate said...

Oh My God. The Thunder Bay Whiskeyjacks logo is amazing.

NickL said...

Whiskey Jacks!! A Gray Jay! I'm swooning. Check out what I found:

I am going to bid on a hat and/or shirt.

Will S said...

The shirts are from a guy here in Thunder Bay (Rosslyn - rural Thunder Bay area).

Apparently he bought the rights to the logo and has had the shirts available for a little while and has just made the caps available.

Here's the ad on the Thunder Bay Kijiji site:

Will S said...

Have a accumulated a small collection of Whiskey Jacks stuff through thrift shops and local kijiji.

gave the jacket on the left and one of the caps to my dad; still have all the rest.

Jim V said...

If you put teeth on a bird, your logo gets an automatic F in my book.
But I love birds holding bats.
If I ever own a team, I'm calling them either the Buntings or the Flycatchers.

NickL said...

Jim V - "Flycatchers" is an awesome name for a team. Let's make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the independent Frontier League which includes the Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers, named after the prairie chicken -

Roadrunner said...

Great Lakes Loons should drop to B or C. Webbed feet on a loon? Come on! Lobe-toed propulsion all the way or don't play!

Spurwing Plover said...

Chuckars a Partridge A Partridge Family,Partridge ia pear Tree but i do prefer these bird names over some dumb yellow slug like they have in U.C. Santa Cruz and stanfords silly tree and the Mudhens which is a popular name for the American Coot

Gooniebird said...

Across the pond in the british isle they have THE MAGPIES. Here in Hocky they have the Bakersfield Condors(A big Vulture)and the San Diego Gulls

Flu-Bird said...

The Chattanooga Mockingbirds(University)may seem silly but Mockingbirds can be quite territorial and defiant as well as fearless and the Canaries? That just gives real meaning to joke about 500 lbs Canaries and theres the Highlands(Kentucky)Bluebirds

Anonymous said...

I wish the Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks were still around.

oldbizmark said...

Love this post. Truth be told, I was about to do something similar. There is (at least) one new one to add:

They were created this year as an expansion team in the Carolina League. Beautiful logo. Sold out in my size cap, unfortunately.

Jack son said...

He sorted out the principal known baseball group, the New York Knickerbockers. He additionally composed the "20 Original Rules of Baseball".

Spurwing Plover said...

Never forget that Corpal Clinger( from MASH was almost aways wearing his Toledo Mudhen's jersey

Mike Colon said...

Yes, Never forget that Corpal Clinger!
anw, thank for your post!

Kingfisher said...

A little late to the convo here, but we absolutely have American White Pelicans in SC!

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Spurwing Plover said...

The Toledo Mudhen's their a popular name for Coots

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