State College, Pa., home of Penn State University's Nittany Lions, has long been known as a football town. In 2006, however, the region's devoted fan base will have a baseball franchise to turn their attention toward: The State College Spikes.
The New York-Penn League franchise, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, is moving from New Jersey to State College pending approval of the NYPL, Minor League Baseball and a review by the Baseball Office of the Commissioner.
The name "Spikes" was the winning entry in a "Name the Team" contest that drew more than 5,000 responses from residents throughout the region, and was announced at a press conference that took place in Penn State's Beaver Stadium Tuesday afternoon.
While the new moniker may bring to mind images of baseball's preferred style of footwear, that is not the case.
Spikes refers to the unforked antler of a young male deer, and is meant to represent the popular Pennsylvania pastime of deer hunting. The name works on a metaphorical level, as well; a young deer may or may not develop a full set of antlers, in much the same way that a NYPL ballplayer may or may not develop into a Major Leaguer.
Additionally, the name aligns the franchise with the Double-A Altoona Curve, whose logo shows a baseball with a railroad spike through the middle. The Spikes are owned and operated by Curve Baseball LP, and will be under the leadership of Curve president Chuck Greenberg and General Manager Todd Parnell.
According a team release, the Spikes will have four official colors: Penn State navy blue, cardinal, old gold and moonlight yellow.
While the primary logo features a young deer leaping over the word "Spikes," the club has unveiled two alternate logos: an antler enclosed in an "S" ribbon will be worn on home hats and road jersey tops, while the determined face of a young deer will be displayed on road hats, home sleeves and alternate jersey tops.
Spikes was selected over Anglers, Coalys, Furnace and Haymakers in the final round of the "Name the Team" contest. Each of these finalists represented a category important to the heritage of the State College region: fishing, Penn State University, iron-making, and farming.
For the record, "Coalys" refers to an old donkey that was the unofficial mascot of Penn State before the inception of the Nittany Lion. The donkey's bones are still on display at the university.
The Spikes will play at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, a brand-new facility that is currently being constructed across from Beaver Stadium on the Penn State campus. The club will share Medlar Field with the Penn State Baseball Program, which competes in the Big 10 Conference and is the oldest varsity sport at PSU.
Fans looking for more information on the Spikes can visit the club's temporary on-line home at www.statecollegebaseball.com . The team's official site, www.statecollegespikes.com , will be unveiled on Wednesday.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.