Minor League Baseball fans might want to brush up on their Spanish. Daytona Beach, Florida, is now home to the Tortugas.
On Thursday morning, the Florida State League franchise formerly known as the Daytona Cubs announced it will be known as the Tortugas. Tortugas is Spanish for "turtles," which are abundant in the Daytona Beach region. The club's name change became necessary after the Chicago Cubs organization declined to renew its 22-season affiliation with Daytona, opting to align with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans as their Class A Advanced affiliate instead. Shortly thereafter, Daytona signed a four-year affiliation agreement with the Cincinnati Reds.
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"All along, we knew that we were going to go with an independent name, a name that would have a true meaning within our community," Tortugas general manager Josh Lawther said. "After several nights of brainstorming with the rest of the staff, Tortugas was brought up, and the more we thought about it, the more it made perfect sense. Sea turtles are common here. You can find them up and down the beachline. Their nesting season runs parallel to the baseball season, and that adds to the continuity of it.
"And the tortuga aspect -- that gives it some flair and makes it more unique than it already was. Florida is Spanish for the word 'flower,' so why not do something similar [with our name]? We think it sounds perfect."
Though some fans might not know what a "tortuga" is, the accompanying visuals leave no doubts.
"Unless someone is fluent in Spanish, they might do a double take, but the turtle itself is right on the primary logo," Lawther said. "The name is fun to say and sounds unique and exciting, which is exactly what we were looking for from a branding and merchandise standpoint. We now have the opportunity to capitalize on the name itself and turtles in general. Because at the end, what it comes down to is, 'Who doesn't like a turtle?'"
The Tortugas' logos were designed by Louisville-based Studio Simon, which has been involved in dozens of Minor League rebranding efforts. The primary logo depicts a smirking, bat-wielding tortuga as he (or, perhaps, she) swims beneath the partially submerged "Daytona Tortugas" wordmark.
"During our first conversation with Dan [Simon], we told him the thought process behind our name and he developed a few initial options," Lawther said. "We went back and forth from there until we had the perfect fit."
Granted, this process was on an accelerated timetable. After learning that the Cubs were not going to renew their longstanding affiliation, the Daytona front office had only 60 days to develop the new identity.
"We spun it as a positive, as a great opportunity for our staff to do something creative and tackle something that they hadn't done before," Lawther said. "And now we're excited to share this with our community."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.