In the Montgomery, Alabama, visitor center that used to serve as the city’s Union Station, there’s a cleverly named restaurant called Lek’s Railroad Thai. It was there that I discovered that the city’s minor league (AA) baseball team is called the Biscuits (2006 Southern League Champions). What a nice bit of self-mocking regional pride! Of course, we were headed that night for the home of the Columbus, Georgia, Catfish, a name that inspires such headlines as RiverDogs fry Catfish and Braves filet Catfish. And the next day, we were headed toward the hometown of the Savannah, Georgia, Sand Gnats.
A lot of minor league team names are not only boring, but predictable. Guess whose farm teams the following are: the Richmond Braves, Iowa Cubs, Sarasota Reds, Binghamton Mets, Reading Phillies, San Jose Giants, Springfield Cardinals, Potomac Nationals, Dunedin Blue Jays, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, Omaha Royals, Kinston Indians, and Pawtucket Red Sox.
Other team affiliations are not dead giveaways, but pretty easy derivatives of the parent team name: the Tucson Sidewinders, Delmarva Shorebirds, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Rochester Red Wings, San Antonio Missions, Memphis Redbirds, Tacoma Rainiers, and Harrisburg Senators.
But my favorite team names are those with strong local flavor, and little reflection of their parent organizations: the Augusta GreenJackets (Giants), Cedar Rapids Kernels (Angels), Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds), Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays), Louisville Bats (Reds), Hickory Crawdads (Pirates), Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers), Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Angels), Albuquerque Isotopes (Marlins), Lowell Spinners (Red Sox), Tennessee Smokies (Cubs), Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Indians), Durham Bulls (Devil Rays), Norfolk Tides (Orioles), Brevard County Manatees (Brewers), and–my favorite–Modesto Nuts (Rockies).
Future team names I’d like to see are the Orange County Fruits, Gilroy Garlics, Salinas Lechuga, Monterey Squid, Madison Brats, Waukegan Wieners, Ozark Nightcrawlers, Bismarck Sugar Beets, Rapid City Rutabagas, and Smithfield (Virginia) Hams.
UPDATE: Isotopes Park in Albuquerque hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game on 11 July 2007.