The secret is finally out: the Arkansas Travelers have a new set of logos.
The Travelers, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, unveiled their rebranding effort during a stadium "Big Reveal" party on Wednesday evening. This event followed weeks of speculation, much of it fueled by a mysterious "Top Secret" banner that the team had hung outside the front entrance to Dickey-Stephens Park in downtown Little Rock. When the banner was removed, fans finally got a glimpse of the look that the venerable Texas League entity will be sporting in 2014 and beyond.
The Travs, as they are often referred to colloquially, are back in the saddle. The team's primary logo features the side profile of a stately horse, with a bold red "A" emblazoned upon it.
"If you look at the history of who the Travelers are and where the name came from, it's based on a guy who would roam the Ozarks selling his wares and riding a horse," said Travelers general manager Paul Allen, referring to the folk hero immortalized in song and story as "The Arkansas Traveler." "Then, in the '90s, we came out with Shelly the horse mascot and he really stuck."
The current trend in Minor League Baseball is to embrace cartoonish and overtly kid-friendly imagery, most recently exemplified by Tuesday's announcement that El Paso's new Triple-A team would be known as the Chihuahuas. The Travelers, however, have opted for a more conservative approach.
"The two words we wanted to evoke with [the new identity] are 'determined' and 'majestic,'" said Allen, who worked his way to the general manager position after starting with the team in 2005 as an intern. "By going primarily with red and black, we're keeping the colors classic, and they also tie in with [Major League affiliate] the Angels."
The new logos were designed by Casey White and Jason Klein of Brandiose, the same company responsible for the aforementioned Chihuahuas logo. Accompanying the primary mark is a logo featuring a red "A" atop the word "Travs," as well as one featuring the horse atop a red diamond with nine stars surrounding it (representing the nine positions of the baseball diamond).
"We felt that now was a good opportunity to [unveil the logos], as we're heading into our All-Star year," said Allen, referring to the 2014 Texas League All-Star Game, which will be held at Dickey-Stephens Park. "We're going into our eighth season at [Dickey-Stephens] and the newness has worn off a little, so we wanted to do something to stay fresh and keep the fans excited. I believe that one of the hardest things in Minor League Baseball is staying relevant in the offseason, but it's so important because that's when you're doing all of your sales."
To combat this annual period of prolonged public ennui, the Travelers have devised an offseason of intrigue. It began with the late August announcement that longtime mascot Shelly the horse would be retiring, and this paved the way for Wednesday's logo unveiling. A new mascot and uniforms will be unveiled later in the offseason, as well as additional alternate logos. But through all of the changes, one aspect of Arkansas' baseball identity is sure to remain constant.
"We've had the Travelers name for so long that changing it is not on the table," said Allen. "It's been around since 1901, and we hope that it will still be around long after we're gone."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.