If you read my article “Big League Nature”, you may remember the phrase “Tradition has sports teams taking names like Lions or Tigers or Hurricanes or Hawks. We want them to sound like winners, like tough guys, like invincible creations.”
Well, in minor league baseball, this is often not the case. Team owners wants spectators to have fun and not worry too much about who wins and loses. After all, as soon as a player starts to become a star, he is quickly elevated to a higher league and fans musn’t get too attached!
Can you imagine this match-up? The Akron Rubber Ducks against the Hickory Crawdads? (I know that this would be difficult. They are NOT in the same league).
Or how about the Greensboro Grasshoppers playing the El Paso Chihuahuas? (Also not in the same league).
Here are some of my favourite minor league baseball names – all of which have a “nature” origin:
Bird Names: Toledo Mudhens, Idaho City Chukars, Great Lakes Loons, Orem Owlz, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Missoula Osprey.
Mammal Names: Richmond Flying Squirrels, Batavia Muckdogs, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Hartford Yard Goats, Carolina Mudcats, Erie Seawolves, West Virginia Black Bears, Tri-City Valley Cats.
Natural Phenomena Names: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Norfolk Tide, Bakersfield Blaze, Brooklyn Cyclones, Lake Elsinore Storm.
Other Creature Names: Jupiter Hammerheads, Beloit Snappers, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Brevard County Manatees, Dayton Dragons, Burlington Bees, Columbia Fire Flies, Charlotte Stone Crabs.
And, though it is not a name taken from nature, you have to be a fan of the Lansing Lugnuts.