Teams looking fresh, ready to impress

Minors' logo landscape underwent several changes ahead of season

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | March 18, 2016 2:00 PM

Minor League Opening Day is bearing down upon us with the force of a 16-wheeler with defective brakes barreling down a steep grade. There's no emergency pull-off in sight.

Utilizing what little time we have left, this edition of Minoring in Business is dedicated to rounding up the myriad aesthetic changes to the Minor League landscape that took place over the past eight months. What follows is a brief overview of each team that will be sporting a new look (and, in the first two cases, a new location) in 2016.

Date: July 8, 2015
Team: Hartford Yard Goats
Occurrence: Logos unveiled for new team
Designer: Brandiose
The Yard Goats are set to begin their inaugural season, having moved to Hartford, Connecticut, from nearby New Britain. The Double-A Rockies affiliate, whose name is an oblique reference to Hartford's railroad history, unveiled its logos in July. While train imagery is in short supply, goats are not. The primary logo features a goat chomping down on a broken baseball bat, while the kelly green and royal blue color scheme is a nod to the defunct Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League.
He said it: "Yard Goats baseball is all about family entertainment and having fun at Dunkin' Donuts Park, and we feel this logo represents just that." -- Yard Goats general manager Tim Restall.

Date: Aug. 4, 2015
Team: Columbia Fireflies
Occurrence: Logos and name unveiled for new team
Designer: Sky Design
The Savannah Sand Gnats have relocated to Columbia, South Carolina, where they've assumed a similarly insect-ian moniker: the Fireflies. The name was chosen in part because of fireflies' prevalence in the region. The "fire" also references Columbia's slogan of "Famously Hot." The logos are appropriately luminescent, and portions of the uniform even glow in the dark.
He said it: "In addition to the name being unique in Minor League Baseball and regionally, the colors we have chosen are not like any of the teams in the area around Columbia -- none of the college or pro teams use colors like this. In lots of ways, every box we're trying to check, this did it." -- Fireflies owner Jason Freier.

Date: Sept. 9, 2015
Team: Ogden Raptors
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: New Era
The Raptors updated their prehistoric look, slanting their signature "O" and giving dino mascot Oggie a greater sense of forward motion. Also of note is an alternate logo featuring a raptor talon emerging menacingly from within the "O." The logos were designed by the New Era Cap Company, who did the work gratis as a means to spur Raptors hat sales.
He said it: "The original concept was that we had the tip of the raptor claw dipped in blood, and then there was a drop of blood at the bottom of the cap. I thought it was very cool. But then some of our shareholders, and not to mention my 11-year-old son, said that it wouldn't be very family-friendly." -- Raptors president Dave Baggott on the alternate logo.

Date: October 6, 2015
Team: Hickory Crawdads
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: Studio Simon
The Hickory Crawdads' primary logo had previously featured a lounging ball-clutching crawdad wrapped around the letter "H." That logo remains on the home cap but has been replaced by a new primary logo that incorporates a new team font and features the team's titular crustacean submerged in North Carolina freshwater. Three new alternate logos were introduced as well, including one in which a crawdad's claw is depicted atop a map of the team's home state.  
He said it: "We were thrilled to be tapped by the Hickory Crawdads to collaborate with them and give their identity the love that one of Minor League Baseball's iconic brands truly deserved." -- Studio Simon owner Dan Simon.  

Date: Nov. 10, 2015
Team: Kane County Cougars
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: Studio Simon
After 25 seasons, the Cougars ditched their rather staid old look in favor of a "menacing" Cougar designed by Louisville-based Studio Simon. The team -- Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks -- opted to go with a "C" on the cap logo as opposed to a "KC" to avoid confusion with the Kansas City Royals. Blue, tan and lime green are all featured prominently in the Cougars' new color scheme.
He said it: "This just dresses up our organization as a whole, updates us to the current times, and we think it really turned out well." -- Cougars vice president Curtis Haug.

Date: Nov. 12, 2015
Team: Bowling Green Hot Rods
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: SME
The Bowling Green Hot Rods were first established as a franchise in 2009, so it was somewhat surprising to see the team overhaul its still relatively new look. The Midwest League franchise is now owned by Manhattan Capital Sports, however, who elected to go with a more streamlined -- and very orange -- identity, replacing the yellow and black scheme that had previously dominated. Bowling Green's rich automobile heritage remains the theme, however.
He said it: "Previously, we had a lot of different colors, and now we're kind of focusing on the navy and the orange. It simplifies things a bit and makes it a little more modern." -- Hot Rods general manager Adam Nuse.

Date: Nov. 18, 2015
Team: Syracuse Chiefs
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: Brandiose
The Chiefs updated their look with a patriotic red, white and blue reboot, which references the parent Washington Nationals as well as various eras of the team's long International League history. A stylized "S" alternate logo harkens back to a 1970s-era primary logo, while another alternate cap showcases the Native American headdress logo that the Chiefs sported from 1987-96.
He said it: "We're here to say that the Chiefs have been here, in this town, and that we'll continue to be here. Going forward, we're going to be stronger and better than ever." -- Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol.

Date: Nov. 23, 2015
Team: Louisville Bats
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: SME
The Louisville Bats are in the same ownership group as the Bowling Green Hot Rods, and like the Hot Rods, they opted to have their new logos designed by SME -- a company that has not done much work within the Minor League Baseball industry. The Bats swapped out their previous purple and black color scheme for a red and black look that references the parent Cincinnati Reds. The bat in the primary logo is gripping a bat in its talons. Louisville is, of course, home of the Louisville Slugger bat company.
He said it: "We're closely associated with the Reds, both geographically and through our affiliation. We thought we should get a look closer to the Reds." -- Bats vice president Greg Galiette.

Date: Dec. 2, 2015
Team: Norfolk Tides
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: Brandiose
The Tides' new sea green, jade and orange color scheme aligns them with the parent Baltimore Orioles, but the overall look is totally Norfolk. The primary logo depicts a seahorse bearing an "N"-shaped trident, while the road cap features an anchor-shaped "N" wrapped in chains and, presumably, tossed into the scurvy deep.
He said it: "The thing with [the name] 'Tides,' it's nothing that you can touch or feel. What we tried to do here is incorporate the seahorse to give the Tides something tangible." -- Tides general manager Joe Gregory.

Date: Feb. 13, 2016
Team: Great Lakes Loons
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: Brandiose
The Loons updated their look in advance of their 10th season, including a nature-themed primary logo in which a loon is set against an outdoor backdrop. The Midwest League team also unveiled two "seasonal" logos. The winter logo features a loon in a plaid cold-weather cap, while in the summer iteration the loon is wearing a fishing cap.
He said it: "People here like to spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer, so for us, Loons baseball represents friends, family and outdoor summertime fun in Michigan." -- Loons vice president of entertainment and marketing Chris Mundhenk.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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