Next season, the Syracuse Chiefs will be writing their name in red, white and blue.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals unveiled a set of new and updated logos Wednesday afternoon. The red, white and blue color scheme aligns the team visually with the parent Nationals, but general manager Jason Smorol said it also harkens back to the rich history of professional baseball in Syracuse. The Chiefs name dates back to 1934, while professional baseball in the city goes back to the 1880s.
"We have so much history in our office, so much stuff in the cases," said Smorol, a Syracuse native who became the GM prior to the 2014 season. "By the '30s, we had a real strong red, white and blue theme going."
This daily inspiration from the past collided with a present-day revelation.
"I remember on Memorial Day, thinking we looked so good in red, white and blue," said Smorol. "So we worked with [design company] Brandiose, changing the colors, freshening things up."
The colors have changed, but the Chiefs have retained the train within their primary logo (a look that they first adopted in 2007, following a 10-year period in which they were known as the "SkyChiefs"). The club unveiled an array of new alternate logos Wednesday as well.
A stylized white "S," similar to the team's primary logo in the 1970s, is bordered by red trim and set against a blue background. Another alternate cap showcases the silhouette of a Native American in full headdress, a logo similar to the Chiefs' primary logo from 1987 through 1996. Smorol said he did not expect the Native American imagery to garner controversy, since the Chiefs won't be wearing it on the field and they have a strong relationship with the local Onondaga tribe.
The Chiefs' new and updated looks, taken together, are part of a larger effort to emphasize the strength and potential of Minor League Baseball in Syracuse. The team has ranked consistently at or near the bottom of the International League in attendance; it is the job Smorol and his staff to renew interest in the community-owned franchise while working back toward profitability.
"We're here to say that the Chiefs have been here, in this town, and that we'll continue to be here," he said. "Going forward, we're going to be stronger and better than ever."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.