Hold your horses: the Binghamton Mets have changed their name to the Rumble Ponies.
Since their 1992 inception, Binghamton's Double-A Eastern League franchise had gone by the name of the parent New York Mets. The Rumble Ponies name and logo, revealed Thursday morning during an unveiling event at a local elementary school, gives the team a unique identity meant to evoke the city's history and culture.
Rumble Ponies beat out other finalists Bullheads, Gobblers, Rocking Horses, Stud Muffins and Timber Jockeys in a "Name the Team" contest that initially received more than 1,500 submissions. Rumble Ponies was one of four names in the contest that referenced Binghamton's standing as "Carousel Capitol of the World," as the city is home to six vintage carousels originally donated by local businessman and philanthropist George F. Johnson.
The Binghamton Mets had struggled in recent years to draw fans, perennially finishing last in the Eastern League in attendance. The team's anemic showing at the gate resulted in perennial relocation rumors, but when Evans Street Baseball bought the team prior to the 2016 season, new primary owner John Hughes immediately made a pledge to keep the team in the city.
"[Rebranding] was really an easy decision because of all the rumors there had been about the team leaving," Hughes said, just prior to the official announcement. "This helps strengthen our connection to the city, it creates an identity, something that only exists in Binghamton. This is our own story, our own identity."
Hughes also said the fan vote was "overwhelmingly weighted" toward the Rumble Ponies name. The moniker was submitted by a local fan who wishes to be identified only by her first name, Nicole.
"[Nicole] is a mom here in Binghamton and she remembers riding the carousel as a child," Hughes said. "And she remembers going to sleep and dreaming of the ponies rumbling right off of the carousel."
Rumble Ponies are a "fierce horse that no carousel can contain."
"The aggression and fighting spirit in the horse represents the fighting spirit of Binghamton," Hughes continued. "Ready to do battle. Ready to take on the world."
The Rumble Ponies logos were designed by Brandiose, the San Diego-based firm that has handled every team rebrand of the 2016-17 offseason (joining the Florida Fire Frogs, Lynchburg Hillcats, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Down East Wood Ducks).
The primary logo, featuring a navy, red and silver color scheme, showcases a hard-charging Rumble Pony. The red road cap features a "B" fashioned out of a carousel pole, while a similar alternate mark consists of an interlocking "NY." A final alternate mark, which Hughes said would be used as a batting practice cap and at special events, depicts a Rumble Pony wearing boxing gloves while menacingly brandishing a carousel pole.
As with all rebrandings, the reaction to the "Rumble Ponies" likely will elicit a strong response encompassing a wide range of opinion.
"We've already gotten a lot of energy and reaction from our fan base, which is encouraging because they've showed a passion that had been missing here for a long time," Hughes said. "I fully believe that we've turned the corner, that we can unify behind this and focus our energy on our inaugural 2017 season as the Rumble Ponies."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.