Author Salutes The Creativity, Occasional Humor And Madness Behind Pro Baseball Team Names

Aug 11, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. -  Sliders, Rockets, and Hottentots.  Are these the newest menu items at the local burger joint?  Nope.  Believe it or not, they are actual professional baseball team names.  WUKY talked recently with a man who has researched and published a new book on the subject.  Tim Hagerty is a radio broadcaster for the Triple A Tucson Padres and the author of Root For The Home Team – Minor League Baseball’s Most Off The Wall Names And The Stories Behind Them.

Q:  What made you want to write this book?

In 2004 I was a broadcaster for the minor league team the Idaho Falls Chukars, and people would ask me what a chukar was, it’s a pheasant-like bird, and so the whole team name thing became an interest of mine.  So I looked for a book about unique minor league team names and found that no one had written such a thing.  So I did.

Q:  Talk about the research process you went through.  It had to be complicated by the fact that some of these teams folded almost a century ago.

I would call a lot of these historical societies and some of them wouldn’t even know what I was talking about.  To tell the truth, the best source I found was the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Q:  What are some of your personal favorite team name stories?

How about the Ilion Typewriters in Ilion, New York…it has a very local connection.  Ilion, New York is where the Remington Standard II Typewriter was invented.  I think those are the best types of names; the ones that are really out there but have a real connection to that city.  I also love the Fort Wayne Tincaps in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  That’s of course the home of Johnny Appleseed.  It’s where he’s buried, and each year they have a Johnny Appleseed festival.  So the team name is the Tin Caps because Appleseed would wear the cooking pot on his head.  Other distinctive names I found were the Muncie Fruit Jars, the Springfield Blanket Makers…the Holyoake Paperweights…all have great stories behind them.

Q:  Have you ever used this vast new-found knowledge to spice up your radio broadcasts?

Of course…especially when there’s a game that’s a bit lopsided and you have to keep the energy up…you can look at a player’s stats and say this guy used to be a Beloit Snapper, or a Louisville Bat. 

Q:  What’s been the feedback and reaction since your book was published?

It’s been very good.  One thing I’m especially pleased with is when people come up to say that they have really learned something from reading my book.  That’s just what I had hoped.  I got an email from a guy in Pennsylvania who had been attending Altoona Curve games for years but he  never knew the story of how they got their name before.  He thought it had to do with a curveball but it actually pertains to a horseshoe curve in a nearby railroad track.

Tim Hagerty is the author of Root For The Home Team – Minor League Baseball’s Most Off The Wall Names And The Stories Behind Them.  It’s from Cider Mill Press and available at most area book stores.