CLOSE
Las Vegas 51s
Las Vegas 51s

How the Las Vegas 51s Got Their Name

Las Vegas 51s
Las Vegas 51s

From the Savannah Sand Gnats to the Montgomery Biscuits, Minor League Baseball is full of slightly bizarre names. But where do they all come from? From now until Opening Day, we'll be taking a look at the stories behind some of the greatest team names in MiLB. So far we've covered the story behind the Akron RubberDucks and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and today we tackle the Las Vegas 51s.

The key to understanding the Mets Triple-A affiliate's team name is on their hats. Blue caps bear the elongated head of a cartoon-ish alien sporting baseball-like stitches. The teams' mascot, a googly-eyed guy named Cosmos, continues the extra terrestrial theme. The name refers to Area 51, the top-secret military base located about 80 miles outside the city that has historically been the epicenter of UFO conspiracies.

When the team arrived in Vegas, it was known as the Stars. But 17 years later, before the 2000 season, the team swapped out one cosmic name for another. The change coincided with an affiliation turnover, from the San Diego Padres to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Initially, the alien-adorned hats were a hit and the new brand succeeded in appealing to a younger audience. But when Stevens Baseball Group bought the franchise in 2008, CEO Derek Stevens told the media, "I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the 51s name."

He planned to change it the following off season, but shifting affiliations got in the way. The Dodgers skipped town for Albuquerque. While in the process of signing a new Player Development Contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, the owners of the 51s missed MLB's deadline to submit name and logo changes.

The team has stayed the 51s ever since, surviving another ownership change and adoption into the Mets' system. As trends in Minor League Baseball team names tend towards ever-increasing originality, the once-wacky reference to UFOs now seems perfectly par for the course.

Or, as 51s media relations director Jim Gemma said, "When you have the El Paso Chihuahuas and the Albuquerque Isotopes, the 51s isn’t that weird."

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Fox Sports, YouTube
arrow
Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
Fox Sports, YouTube
Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Great Big Story, Youtube
arrow
video
Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
Great Big Story, Youtube
Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios