What does a Yard Goat look like? That question was answered Wednesday afternoon.
In March it was announced that the name of Hartford's new Eastern League team would be the Yard Goats. That team's logos were unveiled Wednesday at an event staged at the XL Center in downtown Hartford. The Yard Goats, Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, will begin play at Dunkin' Donuts Park, which is currently under construction, in 2016. The franchise replaces the relocating New Britain Rock Cats, who currently operate just 12 miles from Hartford.
The just-unveiled primary logo depicts a Yard Goat chewing on a baseball bat with the team colors of gray, tan, Kelly green and royal blue all incorporated into the mark. The logo is featured on both the home and away caps, the former in royal blue and the latter in Kelly green. The colors pay tribute to Hartford's professional sports history, most notably the Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League (who played in Connecticut's capital city from 1972 through 1997). Hartford has not had a Minor League Baseball team since 1952, the final season of the Eastern League's Hartford Chiefs.
Team owner Josh Solomon had previously commented that the Yard Goats name would "identify the organization as family-friendly and appeal to kids as well as baseball fans throughout the region." The primary logo, meant to appeal to kids of both the human and goat variety, was designed as an embodiment of these ideals.
"Yard Goats baseball is all about family entertainment and having fun at Dunkin' Donuts Park, and we feel this logo represents just that," said Yard Goats (and Rock Cats) general manager Tim Restall.
The Yard Goats name -- selected over Hedgehogs, Praying Mantis, River Hogs and Whirlybirds during an offseason name-the-team contest -- is a reference to Hartford's railroad history. A Yard Goat is, as the team explains, "a hardworking locomotive that moves trains from track to track, keeping the rail yard moving. A Minor League Baseball player is like that Yard Goat, working hard in his Minor League city to keep his Major League affiliate on track."
Thus, the royal blue "Yard Goats" font on the team's jerseys is an homage to the lettering used by the now-defunct New York/New Haven/Hartford Railroad Company. An alternate "H-Horns" logo was also unveiled, in which the tips of the letter 'H' are rendered to resemble a pair of goat horns.
The logo was created in conjunction with Brandiose, a San Diego-based company that has long been the go-to choice for teams wishing to develop unique, irreverent, kid-friendly identities. Brandiose has previously created high-profile rebrandings for merchandising powerhouses such as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Akron RubberDucks, El Paso Chihuahuas and Richmond Flying Squirrels. That the Yard Goats chose to work with Brandiose was no surprise, especially given the team's hiring of current Flying Squirrels chief executive manager and former IronPigs president Chuck Domino as a consultant in the branding process.
Jason Klein of Brandiose described the Yard Goats look as "a tribute to the bold, tough and resilient spirit of Hartford."
Merchandise featuring the new logos is now available via the Yard Goats website. Meanwhile, the Rock Cats are currently playing their 33rd and final season in their home of New Britain Stadium. Dunkin' Donuts Park, the $56 million centerpiece of Hartford's DoNo (Downtown North) development project, is scheduled to open in April 2016.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.