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Pensacola says 'Wahoo' for nickname
New Southern League franchise dubbed after local fish
05/23/2011 12:49 PM ET
Pensacola's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico informs its team name.
Pensacola's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico informs its team name. (Melissa Nelson/AP)
The city of Pensacola will field a Double-A Southern League team in 2012, and on Monday morning that team was given a name.

The Blue Wahoos.

This colorful rhyming moniker was one of six finalists in the club's "Name the Team" contest, and one of four with an aquatic connotation. This is, after all, a team that will play at Maritime Park.

Blue Wahoos are common in the Pensacola area, with the team explaining in a press release that they are "a tough hometown fish," ones known "for the explosive way they pull out of the water." This name beat out Redbones, Salty Dogs, Aviators, Loggerheads and Mullets. All six finalists were fan submissions, with "Blue Wahoos" selected after a vote held on the website of the local Pensacola News Journal.

The News Journal also carried a live stream of the name announcement, which took the form of a raucous pep rally at Cordova Park Elementary School. Each of the school's six fifth-grade classes represented one of the name choices, resulting in a competitive and celebratory atmosphere.

After each of the six classes performed a customized team name cheer, owner Quint Studer took to the podium in order to deliver the news that everyone was waiting for.

"When the season opens in 2012 ... and the team goes out on the field, you're going to hear the announcer say 'Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, how about a big round of applause for your Double- A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds -- the Pensacola Blue Wahoos!"

A "When I say Blue, you say Wahoos" cheer broke out soon thereafter, one quite likely to be a Maritime Park staple in 2012 and beyond.

The news that Pensacola would be fielding a Southern League team was first made public in December, with the announcement that Studer had bought the Zebulon, N.C.-based Carolina Mudcats. In a related move, it was also announced that the Carolina League's Kinston Indians would relocate to Zebulon. This leaves Kinston without a professional baseball team in 2012, after 25 seasons as the Cleveland Indians' Class A Advanced affiliate. Studer had previously owned the independent Pensacola Pelicans, who were sold to an Amarillo, Texas-based ownership group in order to make room for the entity now known as the Blue Wahoos.

The next step in the establishment of Pensacola's professional identity will be the unveiling of the team logo. The franchise has hired Plan B Branding for this purpose, a "creative ideas" firm that has designed marks for new or refurbished Minor League franchises such as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels and Omaha Storm Chasers.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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