After a week that saw more than 3,000 votes cast for the name of the Lynchburg franchise beginning in 2017, the fans' overwhelming support for Hillcats came through, easily topping the vote totals of all the suggested new monikers combined.
"As I said before, we are not surprised in the least by the passion and loyalty of our Lynchburg baseball fans," said Team President Chris Jones. "This was an opportunity to see if the name Hillcats resonated with the fans, look at other options, and leave it up to our dedicated supporters to decide the identity of the team in 2017. We are pleased that Hillcats is a name that Lynchburg fans support so strongly, and we are looking forward to remaining the Lynchburg Hillcats."
The "Name the Team Contest" began in June with a two-week window for fans to suggest new names for the club. Many original ideas and concepts emerged from the initial round of the process. The extensive list was narrowed down to six finalists: Hillcats, Derechos, Doves, Lamb Chops, Love Apples and River Runners.
Fan voting began on July 12 and lasted for seven days to see which name fans preferred. Hillcats became the clear-cut choice when voting concluded with the majority of votes in favor of keeping the current name.
"Lynchburg has a rich baseball history, going all the way back to 1886 when the city fielded its first professional team," said Jones. "After 21 seasons, the Hillcats name has become a big part of that history and tradition. Now that the fans have spoken, we are going to examine how we can show people beyond Lynchburg what this franchise is all about. There may be some opportunities to freshen up the logo and some branding after 21 years, but no matter what, Hillcats will be at the core of everything we do moving forward."
Lynchburg has been a member of the Carolina League for 51 straight seasons and claimed seven league championships during that time. After using the same name as its parent squad from 1966 to 1994, Lynchburg changed its name to the Hillcats in 1995 to coincide with its move from the Boston Red Sox organization to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to that, the Lynchburg team was known as the White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Mets and Red Sox. Next year will mark the 23rd consecutive season as the Hillcats.