– Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash

As a professional name developer, I regularly work on exciting projects such as, “I need to develop a name for a new lice medicine.” I try to have fun with every project I do, but that one was tough!

Someday I’d like to work in the “Funnest” brand name category in America–Minor League Baseball Teams! Most minor league baseball teams are named in one of two ways: either the owner develops the name or there is a fan contest. Normally those are not the two best options, but how can you argue with the results?

Here are my 5 favorites, along with a brief history of how the name was developed:

1. Washington Wild Things – A shout out to a local team in the Frontier League who have been playing to capacity crowds since 2001. According to the Director of Marketing & Communications, Chris Blaine, they were seeking a name with alliteration and when someone in a meeting suggested “Wild Things” based on the movie character played by Charlie Sheen in “Major League” the name stuck. Side Story: When the Wild Things entered the league, Frontier League officials gave them some flack about the name/logo because they had a naming policy that all teams in the Frontier League had to have names that sounded like they were from the frontier (e.g., Chillicothe Paints which honors a horse and not the local paint company).

 2. Modesto Nuts – The A League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They were the “Modesto A’s” because they were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, but when that changed, a “re-name the team” contest was held in 2005. The winner, “The Modesto Nuts” was chosen by 52% of the vote and is presumably a reflection on the region’s agricultural roots, not team management!

 3. Montgomery Biscuits – The AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. They love their biscuits in Montgomery, so when a native of Montgomery, Tripp Vickers, submitted the name, “We all fell in love with it!” said team general manager Marla Terranova-Vickers. “Not only was it representative of the region, but it was campy, quirky, and playful.” 

 4. The Las Vegas 51s – In 2001, the Las Vegas Stars announced a new player-development agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team changed its nickname to the “51s” and unveiled a new alien-themed logo, based on the semi-secret government base known as “Area 51,” which is located 160 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Media reports of UFO sightings and alien activities have been rumored at the base. They are now the AAA Affiliate of the New York Mets. 

 5. Albuquerque Isotopes – The AAA affiliate of the LA Dodgers. Believe it or not, this name came from an episode of “The Simpsons.” In a 2001 episode titled “Hungry, Hungry Homer,” the mayor of Albuquerque tries to steal the Springfield Isotopes away, and Homer goes on a hunger strike to save the team. Ken Young, team president, said “We wanted to be something that was fun and playful,” and Isotopes fit the bill. To show its gratitude, the organization has since placed life-sized statues of Homer and Marge Simpson in Isotopes Park.

 Someday I hope to be involved in a minor league baseball naming project…I’ll even work for free!