Need something to take the edge off? The Louisville Bats announced last week that they will suit up as the Mashers on May 26 for "Cheers to Bourbon Night." In doing so, they joined the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Peoria Chiefs and West Virginia Black Bears as teams who will be sporting
Need something to take the edge off?
The Louisville Bats announced last week that they will suit up as the Mashers on May 26 for "Cheers to Bourbon Night." In doing so, they joined the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Peoria Chiefs and West Virginia Black Bears as teams who will be sporting hard alcohol-themed alternate identities this season.
This edition of "Promo Preview" takes a look at all four of these identities. Drink up.
April 28: Bowling Green Bootleggers
This marks the third consecutive season in which the Hot Rods have transformed into the Bootleggers, an identity that pays tribute to Bowling Green's bourbon and bootlegging history. The team wears bourbon barrel theme jerseys and caps that depict a bearded, barrel-straddling bootlegger.
The Bootleggers alternate identity, designed in-house by staff member Brandon Lamarche, was first announced in February 2016. It didn't take long for the team to realize it had a hit on its hands, as within two weeks Bootleggers merchandise was sold in 32 states and two countries. The inaugural Bootleggers Night, which featured a VIP moonshine tasting as well as moonshine-based mixed drinks, went on to win the 2016 "Promo of the Year" MiLBY Award. At the time, general manager Eric Leach said, "Moonshine is an artform here in the hills of Kentucky" and vowed to make Bootleggers Night an annual event. That's just what it's become.
April 28 won't be the only time we see the Bootleggers this season. The first annual "Battle for the Barrel" takes place in Bowling Green from May 7-9, with the Bootleggers taking on the Peoria Distillers in a tilt for whiskey identity supremacy. For more on the Distillers, keep reading.
May 26: Louisville Mashers
The Mashers, the latest Kentucky bourbon-based identity to hit the scene, make their debut on "Cheers to Bourbon Night." As the team explains, the name "refers to the first step in the bourbon-making process: the cooking and fermentation of grains called mash." The primary logo, designed by Brandiose, features an anthropomorphic barrel brandishing a bat in one hand and a bag of corn in the other. The corn is a reference to "the 51 percent corn mash required to classify [whiskey] as bourbon."
The unveiling of the Mashers identity follows a Brandiose template. In much the same way that Lehigh Valley Cheesesteaks fans chose between "wit" or "witout" onions in a June 10, 2016 promo, Mashers supporters are asked to declare an allegiance to #TeamNeat or #TeamRocks. In addition to the team suiting up as the Mashers, "Cheers to Bourbon Night" includes a bourbon glass giveaway with the Mashers logo.
July 25-27: Peoria Distillers
The Peoria Distillers make their 2018 debut in the aforementioned "Battle of the Barrel" series against the Bootleggers in Bowling Green. From July 25-27, Peoria fans will get the chance to see the Distillers at Dozer Park for a series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. This marks the second straight season in which the Chiefs, Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, have temporarily utilized this identity. It's unique in that it's an homage to a preexisting professional Peoria entity. The Peoria Distillers first played in the Western League in 1894, and from 1905-17 the team operated within the Three I (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa) League. The 1914 Distillers were managed by Pants Rowland, who was then hired by Charles Comiskey to helm the Chicago White Sox and later spent 11 seasons as Pacific Coast League president.
July 17-19: West Virginia Moonshiners
When West Virginia's Class A Short Season franchise had a "Name the Team" contest prior to its inaugural 2014 campaign, Moonshiners was one of the options. Black Bears was the winner, but for three nights in July, the Moonshiners will be a reality. The Moonshiners logo was designed by New Era; per the team, the "logo scheme will feature the method West Virginians traditionally used to produce the popular beverage as well as the methods they used to transport the moonshine throughout the mountainous region."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.