The New York-Penn League franchise, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals, had been baseball's last remaining link to the Expos' name and logo. That all changed when the team unveiled its new name and logo at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Vermont Lake Monsters. The new moniker was the winning entry in a season-long "Name Your Team" contest that drew over 30,000 responses.
C.J. Knudsen, the team's general manager and the mastermind behind the contest, thinks the new name is an appropriate choice for the franchise.
"We wanted something that would encompass Vermont, and Lake Monsters is successful in doing that," Knudsen said. "Our fans have always embraced our mascot Champ, the monster who lives in Lake Champlain, so we wanted our new name to reflect his popularity, as well as the history of the region."
It was a challenge for Knudsen and his staff to sort through the deluge of responses the team received. "We average 100,000 fans a year, one-sixth of the state's population," he said. "Plus, we got lots of response from the Montreal market, as well as participation from many vacationers. It was truly an international promotion."
Some of the more offbeat entries the team received included the Wild Onions, Jesum Crows, and Hollerin' Howards (a reference to former Vermont Governor Howard Dean). There were also those who didn't want to see the Expos' connection go.
"We polled the fans before the start of last season, and found that about half of them were in favor of the name change. So we decided to keep the Expos for the 2005 season as a tribute, and then look for a new name," Knudsen said.
The organization bade a respectful farewell to the Expos throughout the past year, including a "Tribute to Montreal" night, during which Vermont players donned powder-blue Expos uniforms and hosted special guest Andre Dawson.
But for now, the organization is looking toward the future.
"We're reinventing the entire organization, which is quite a challenge," Knudsen said. "But we're proud of our new identity, and proud to represent the team in a way that is unique to Vermont."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.