It’s February 29th, otherwise known as “Leap Day” despite the fact that leap years are the only years to NOT leap over any days. Seems wrong-ways-round to me, but then again I’m not a calendar expert and I wasn’t signed on to write posts about such things.
Let us celebrate Leap Day by taking this once-every-four-years opportunity to look at baseball’s leaping logos starting with the best source of logos, the Minors…
Durham Bulls, International League (AAA)
A logo every baseball fan should recognize instantly, the Durham Bulls catapulted to worldwide fame with the release of the Kevin Costner film “Bull Durham” in 1988 telling the story of a career minor-league catcher who plays for the North Carolinian team. While the team was down in Single-A when the film was released it has since moved all the way up to Triple-A, getting the call to “The Almost Show” to accommodate the Triple A needs of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998. The logo of the bulls features a black bull, outlined in bronze, leaping through a large blue “D”.
While minor league ball in Durham has used the Bulls name for the majority of years since the early 1900s the first pro ball team in town was known as the Durham Tobacconists, they just don’t name ‘em like they used to do they?
State College Spikes, New York-Penn League (A)
The one-time Hamilton (Ontario) Redbirds sprung up in State College, Pennsylvania in 2006 after twelve seasons playing in the Garden State as the New Jersey Cardinals. The team adopted the current name “State College Spikes” for their relocation.
The name Spikes, typically not invoking the imagery of a deer such as the one used in the logo, is said to represent a term commonly used for the not-yet-fully-developed antler of a young deer, similar to the talent level of the ballplayers who represent the team. Their logo features a young white-tailed deer leaping over the team script.
Binghamton Mets, Eastern League (AA)
From a former Ontario-based team to a potential future Ontario-based team, the Binghamton Mets are the next on our list of baseball’s leaping logos. The New York Mets double-A affiliate in Binghamton uses a logo featuring a bee dressed in full baseball uniform leaping through an orange B. Why a bee you ask? The team is commonly referred to as “The B-Mets”… and that’s all it takes.
The Mets have called Binghamton, New York home since the 1992 season and are rumoured to be relocated up to Ottawa for 2013, possibly re-branded as the Ottawa Blue Jays as some have theorized and created logos for recently…
Arkansas Travelers, Texas League (AA)
Named after the state song of Arkansas, “The Arkansas Traveler”, the team was established in 1895 as the Little Rock Travelers. The Travelers made pro sports history when they became the first team to name themselves after an entire state becoming the Arkansas Travelers in 1957.
The Travelers have had two leaping horse logos in recent years, up until 2007 a logo featuring a Arkansas ball player brandishing a bat while riding a horse was worn on the team caps. After 2007 the ball player was either replaced or aged terribly, in his place is a civil war era solider wielding that same baseball bat. Either way the horse is exactly the same.
Richmond Flying Squirrels, Eastern League (AA)
Filling the void left by the departure of he International League’s Richmond Braves in 2008, the Eastern League’s Connecticut Defenders relocated to Richmond, Virginia for the 2010 season. The incredibly unique moniker “Flying Squirrels” was chosen to represent the club from a name-the-team contest beating out other interesting names such as Rhinos, Hush Puppies, and Hambones (the latter having to be removed from consideration due to concerns from the NAACP).
I know what you’re thinking… he’s flying, not leaping. While the name suggests the logo is flying instead of leaping, a flying squirrel does not fly, it leaps and glides, therefore this one counts. Bonus points for the squirrel wearing a uniform patch in the logo.
Portland Sea Dogs, Eastern League (AA)
The third entry from the Eastern League on our list, the Portland Sea Dogs began life as the AA affiliate of the next team on our list before being swapped over to Boston during the great MLB ownership shuffle of ought-three.
Their logo, which features Slugger the Sea Dog trying unsuccessfully to leap through a letter P, possibly because he won’t put that bat down, was designed by comic-strip cartoonist Guy Gilchrist who was also responsible for several other Eastern League logos of the 1990s (including the previously mentioned Binghamton Mets)
Finally we’ll end with the only Major League team to feature a leapin’ logo…
The Marlins introduced their first logo, a teal and silver marlin leaping through a circle, back in 1991, two years prior to playing their first game in 1993. The logo was designed by Major League Baseball and the Midnight Oil design firm with help from owner Wayne Huizenga and his nephew who ran a real-life fishing boat, making him an expert in logo design. Teal dominated the colour scheme until 2003 when it was scaled back to nothing more than a trim colour on jersey scripts.
For 2012 the Florida Marlins have re-branded as the Miami Marlins, and while everything has changed with their identity what remained was the imagery of a marlin leaping in the logo.
Hope you all enjoyed this look at some fun Minor League Baseball logos, home to some of the most creative and unique logos and mascots in all of sports. Make this Leap Day count, you won’t get another chance to do it again until 2016.