The Fresno Grizzlies have gone from the half-shell to the soft shell.
Last season the Grizzlies made national news with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jerseys. Today they've once again made waves, this time with the tortilla-ly awesome announcement that, on Aug. 6, they will be known as the "Fresno Tacos."
This news was revealed during a Tuesday morning press conference at the Grizzlies' home of Chukchansi Park, with general manager Derek Franks flanked by a life-size mock-up of the Fresno Tacos uniforms and a placard bearing the tagline "August 6: We Are What We Eat."
Aug. 6 is the Grizzlies' fifth annual "Taco Truck Throwdown," during which popular taco trucks from throughout the Central Valley set up shop outside Chukchansi Park and vie for supremacy. The annual event regularly results in one of the team's biggest crowds of the year. In 2014, 19 trucks were on hand and 27,000 tacos consumed. This year's event will have a record 25 vendors, meaning that the 30,000-taco barrier may well be broken.
Ryan Young, Grizzlies communications and marketing manager, said that the Fresno Tacos uniforms were the result of the team's promotional philosophy of "looking outside the box first."
"The true baseball fans, they think that the Taco Truck Throwdown takes too much of a shine off of the baseball game," he said. "We said, 'Hey, this will be the best of both worlds -- it gives everyone an extra reason to look at the guys on the field."
The uniforms were created by graphic designers Dorian Castro and Andy Inman, working in-house for the Grizzlies.
"Dorian Castro worked on the sketch of the taco," said Grizzlies director of marketing Sam Hansen. "He's from rural Central California, a town called Huron, where there are a lot of migrant laborers and, as a result, taco trucks. He put a lot of love and passion into it, then kicked it over to Andy Inman, who added a sports appeal."
Hansen said that the early favorite to win this year's event is La Elegante, who have already won two Taco Truck Throwdowns.
"They, to me, symbolize what Fresno taco trucks are all about," said Hansen. "It's not about gourmet food trucks. We've stuck to our guns. If you're a trendy food truck, then [to participate], you've got to make a taco."
The Grizzlies are already accepting pre-orders for fitted Fresno Tacos caps, which, per tradition, feature a corn tortilla.
"It's perfect for us, to pay homage to a cultural icon for Fresno," said Hansen. "We didn't invent the taco, but we invented the taco truck."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.