Attractions, especially weird ones, are a time-honored way to drum up business from people who are at best casual baseball fans, and lately that’s extended to team names, including the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Plus: the tale of Peter Williams, who in 1972 won the Wisconsin state long jump championship “by accident.”
Timber Rattlers to Play as Udder Tuggers June 20 (Ballpark Digest)
Weirdness is a growing part of our national pastime.
I was at a baseball game last night – summer league for young prospects – and while it’s nothing new to see a lot of attractions in between innings, those attractions are getting wilder and wilder, along with most everything else.
I’m old enough to remember when weird attractions were a new thing, like a dog that could fetch bats or a race to see which member of the audience could dress up as a sandwich fastest.
A decade or so ago I was at a minor league game in Minnesota, where the St. Paul Saints would blast hard rock anthems through the stadium every time one of their players came up to bat.
But for the visiting team’s plate appearances, they would put on 80s lite rock.
You’re not exactly striking fear into the heart of an opposing pitcher when your walk-up music is “True” by Spandau Ballet, right?
Attractions, especially weird ones, are a time-honored way to drum up business from people who are at best casual baseball fans.
No longer are the Toledo Mud Hens the one team with a head-scratching name in the minors.
Today you have your pick of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, or the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
The Pit Spitters are a real team representing Traverse City, Michigan, which is known for its cherries.
And if those names don’t suit you, some teams will try on temporary names.
Like the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who later this month will celebrate National Dairy Month by changing their name to the Wisconsin Udder Tuggers…
One last sports story for today: the Fond du Lac Reporter, in my home state of Wisconsin, just told the tale of Peter Williams, who in 1972 stopped playing football because he wouldn’t heed the coach’s direction to cut his long hair.
But the school still wanted him to stay in sports in some capacity, so he ended up doing the long jump for the track and field team.
He didn’t have to attend practices, stick around meets after his event or even wear a team uniform- he just had to jump.
And that’s what he did, until he ended up, as he put it, winning the state long jump championship “by accident,” with bushy hair, wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt.