In October, Morgantown's New York-Penn League franchise announced that it would be known as the West Virginia Black Bears. As of Wednesday afternoon, the team has a look to go along with the name.
The Black Bears -- Class A Short Season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates -- unveiled their primary logo at a press conference held at a local hotel. The logo, designed by Rickabaugh Graphics, features a color scheme of coal black, sunrise gold and sky blue. Included is a side profile of a determined and dignified black bear posed in front of the Appalachian Mountains. A baseball resides at the top of the mountains, situated between two peaks.
This imagery references West Virginia's natural resources and wildlife -- the black bear is the official state animal -- and the color scheme solidifies the team's connection to the parent Pittsburgh Pirates as well as West Virginia University. The Black Bears' home of Monongalia County Ballpark, which is currently under construction, will be shared with the West Virginia Mountaineers' Division I baseball team.
For the Black Bears, the challenge was to incorporate all the signifying elements into a primary logo that retained a clean, crisp feel.
"[The logo] is symbolic of so many touchstones for this team," said Jonathan Dandes, president of Rich Baseball operations. Rich Baseball, based in Buffalo, owns the Black Bears as well as the Buffalo Bisons and Northwest Arkansas Naturals. "It was a daunting task, pulling it all together, coming up with a logo that represented all of those things. ... We think Eric [Rickabaugh, of Rickabaugh Graphics] did a spectacular job in doing just that."
Merchandise featuring the new logo was made available after the press conference, in-person as well as online, leading Dandes to remark with a laugh that "we might generate our first bit of revenue this afternoon." The Black Bears' identity remains incomplete, as the team will not unveil their uniforms or secondary marks until next month. A mascot is in the works as well.
"We're working hard on the mascot right now. I can assure you that it will be a bear," said Dandes. "We Googled 'bear mascots' and there were about 150 of them, so the challenge will be to make it specific to West Virginia."
The Black Bears make their debut at home on June 19 against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The franchise relocated from Jamestown, New York, following the 2014 season, marking the New York-Penn League's first foray into the state of West Virginia.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.