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Bowling Green reveals Cavemen identity

Rays High-A affiliate pays tribute to natural wonders of Kentucky
February 16, 2024

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, bringing Minor League Baseball business and culture news to your inbox each and every Thursday. Check out the full newsletter HERE.

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, bringing Minor League Baseball business and culture news to your inbox each and every Thursday. Check out the full newsletter HERE.

With their new alternate identity, the Bowling Green Hot Rods have once again eschewed the surface level.

On multiple occasions during the 2024 season, the Hot Rods -- High-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays -- will take the field as the Cavemen. While the primary logo depicts a particularly furry rendering of our species’ earliest iteration, the team’s primary focus is on caves rather than men.

Bowling Green, Kentucky, is situated amid -- or, rather, on top of -- a vast subterranean ecosystem. Mammoth Cave, the world’s largest system of caves, is located some 20 miles northeast of the city. The Lost River Cave, which offers underground boat tours (no need to bring an umbrella), is located in Bowling Green proper.

Hot Rods general manager Kyle Wolz said that the Cavemen identity is a way to “pay tribute to the natural wonders that are in Kentucky” while also serving as a “What Could Have Been?” promotion for the team. When Bowling Green held a Name the Team contest prior to their 2008 season, Cave Shrimp was one of the finalists.

This identity -- featuring a bespectacled shrimp -- has since been utilized as a “What could have been?” promo. Another alternate mark, the Sinkholes, paid tribute to that time in 2014 when a sinkhole opened up underneath Bowling Green’s Corvette Museum and mercilessly swallowed up a fleet of classic cars.

“We work with a designer, Brandon Lamarche of 3-2 Designs, and he does a fabulous job with all of our brands,” said Wolz. “We gave him some of our inspiration. … We wanted to do a prehistoric caveman and we didn’t want to copy the trends of nowadays when you see it on TV commercials and so forth.

“We wanted it to be a little unique, holding -- and you can look at this either way -- a stalagmite or stalactite bat,” he continued. “The colors on it, no significant tie-in, but we really wanted something that popped. And so we thought more of a neon, even though you don’t really see much of that in the cave system.”

Wolz, like most non-geologists, admitted to regularly confusing stalagmites and stalactites. The jerseys, provided they are not worn upside down, feature stalagmites: rock formations that rise from the ground. Unless you look at them the other way, in which case they feature stalactites: rock formations that hang from above. It's a moot point, really, as caves are pitch black. Cave shrimp are blind, for there is nothing to see. It's all in their mind, and yours.

The Hot Rods, still in the process of formalizing their 2024 promo schedule, will play as the Cavemen on at least two home dates this season.

“We’re working with both of the caves around here, Mammoth Cave and especially Lost River Cave,” said Wolz. “If you saw our promo video, we actually filmed that in Lost River Cave. We have a great partnership with them.”

Cave Shrimp, Sinkholes and now Cavemen. Wolz said that the team’s dedication to below-ground phenomenon is in part inspired by Bowling Green Ballpark, the team’s home since that inaugural 2008 campaign. The facility’s locker rooms are located beyond the outfield concourse, in the interest of not having them swallowed up into an abyssal void.

“According to legend,” said Wolz, prefacing a story that is less than two decades old, “the developers didn’t want to dig too deep because they feared we were built on a cave system. Your traditional ballparks where you come out of the clubhouse and walk right into the dugout, that doesn’t happen here. Our clubhouses are located in centerfield. [Players] come through the centerfield gate.”

So, are there sinkholes beneath Bowling Green Ballpark. Do Cavemen, or Cave Shrimp, lurk below?

“I’m not really sure,” said Wolz. “There have been conversations about that. I think more so it’s just the fear of, ‘If we dig too deep, what are we going to get into?’”

Thank you for reading, and please remember to celebrate National Gumdrop Day responsibly.

See you next week, folks. In the meantime, say hello: [email protected].

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.