CLOSE
Original image
Albuquerque Isotopes

How the Albuquerque Isotopes Got Their Name

Original image
Albuquerque Isotopes

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 Akron RubberDucks, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and the Las Vegas 51s.

This one's not a surprise to fans of The Simpsons. When the Calgary Cannons moved to Albuquerque for the 2003 season, "Isotopes" won a name-the-team contest with 67% of the vote. The second place suggestion, Dukes, was a throwback to the long-lived Albuquerque team that had left New Mexico three years prior for Portland, OR, where they became the Beavers.

Other options in the online contest held by the Albuquerque Tribune included Roadrunners, 66ers, and Atoms. All good options, but none presented the same referential appeal as Isotopes. In an episode of The Simpsons that aired in 2001, Homer learns of a devastating plan to move the fictional Springfield Isotopes to Albuquerque. That move fell through, but in the alternate universe that is reality, the Albuquerque Isotopes were a smash hit. In the three weeks following the announcement of the new name in September, 2002, the Isotopes sold more merchandise than the Dukes ever had in a full season. The team had yet to play a single game.

"It's definitely a unique logo," says Laura Verillo, the Isotopes' Director of Public Relations. "It reaches out to not just baseball fans but also science fans." That Venn Diagram of appeal has helped keep the Isotopes' merchandise in MiLB's top ten — out of 160 teams — every year since their inception.

Verillo emphasizes that the atomic implications are equally valid, citing New Mexico's many nuclear technology facilities, but that doesn't mean the team is ashamed of the name's animated origins. With the approval of Fox and The Simpsons, statues of Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa Simpson can be found throughout the stadium. Kevin Levine, the writer responsible for the first episode of The Simpsons to reference the Springfield Isotopes, even came out to visit the life-imitating-art version of his vision and talk about how the name first came to him.


Courtesy of Albuquerque Isotopes

The team got another pop culture boost over a decade after the name debuted when AMC chose to set the wildly popular Breaking Bad in Albuquerque. While living there during filming, actor Bryan Cranston became a fan of the Isotopes, helping organize charity games at the stadium and even wearing a logo-ed hat in an episode.

The name is offbeat, popular and even educational. "We definitely all know a little more chemistry now with the name," Verillo says.

Original image
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
arrow
History
The First High Five Recorded in the History of Sports
Original image
Denis Poroy/Getty Images

We don’t quite know who invented the high five—but we can pinpoint the moment it became inextricably linked with sports, which the short documentary The High Five explores below.

On October 2, 1977, Los Angeles Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker scored his 30th home run, making the team the first in history to have four players—Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith—with at least 30 homers under each of their belts. Fellow outfielder Glenn Burke was so overwhelmed with joy and pride, he raised his arm and slapped his flat palm against the victorious athlete’s own palm. The moment transformed Baker and Burke into legends.

Sadly, the latter player faced hard times ahead: Burke was gay, and it’s believed that his sexuality prompted team officials to trade him to the Oakland A's the following year. In Oakland, Burke clashed with team manager Billy Martin, then retired early from baseball. Today, Burke is remembered for his charisma and talent—and for transforming a simple gesture into a universal symbol. “To think his energy and personality was the origin of that, that’s a pretty good legacy,” sportswriter Lyle Spencer says in the film.

Original image
iStock
11 Outrageous Ballpark Foods
Original image
iStock

Major League ballpark food has gone way beyond peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and the all-American hot dog. Now you can enjoy full meals, international cuisine, and eye-popping, gut-busting specialty dishes concocted for maximum publicity. Let's sample some of the outrageous dishes available at baseball games this year.

1. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES // TRIPLE TRIPLE BURGER

Wayback Burger has the ultimate meat-lover's burger at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Watch the Phillies while eating a Triple Triple Burger with nine beef patties and nine slices of cheese. And some veggies, if you can find them.

2. NEW YORK METS // BACON S'MORES ON A STICK

First seen in 2015, Pig Guy still offers S‘mores Bacon on a Stick at Citi Field. That's a slice of thick bacon dipped in marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs …on a stick. If you so choose, there are other toppings available for your bacon on a stick, like Sriracha maple glaze or salted caramel.

3. SEATTLE MARINERS // OAXACAN CHAPULINES

Served by Edgar's Cantina, the authentic Oaxacan chapulines debuting this year at Safeco Field in Seattle are "toasted grasshoppers with chile-lime salt seasoning." [PDF] They sold out on opening day, and the ballpark moved more grasshoppers in three games than Edgar's home restaurant Poquitos serves in a year!

4. SEATTLE MARINERS // MADE-TO-ORDER ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Not in the mood for toasted grasshoppers? There are plenty of sweet treats available at Safeco Field in Seattle, including the made-to-order deluxe frozen custard cookie sandwiches from Frozen Rope Sandwich Company. As you can see, they come with extras.

5. COLORADO ROCKIES // ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTERS

In case you don't know what Rocky Mountain oysters are, they're bull testicles that are sliced and deep-fried. Not only are they a huge hit throughout Colorado, they've been a staple at Rockies games for 20 years.

6. TEXAS RANGERS // TEXAS SNOWBALL

New for 2017, you'll be able to try the Texas Snowballs at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. It's made of chopped brisket and barbecue sauce rolled into a ball and covered with funnel cake batter. It is then deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Is it an entree or a dessert? That's your decision.

7. TEXAS RANGERS // CHOOMONGOUS

Choomongous is both a sandwich and a description. This staple at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, is a 24-inch Korean beef sandwich that was crafted in 2014 in honor of Texas Ranger outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. The sandwich is stuffed with Korean-spiced beef, spicy slaw, and Sriracha-infused mayo. Your best advice is to split it with a friend or two.

8. HOUSTON ASTROS // CHICKEN AND WAFFLE CONE

Watch baseball at Minute Maid Park and use only one hand to eat a full dinner. The Chicken and Waffle Cone puts fried chicken fingers and mashed potatoes inside a large waffle cone with honey-mustard sauce on top. The fan favorite is in its third year of satisfying hungry Astros fans.

9. MILWAUKEE BREWERS // INSIDE THE PARK NACHOS

Miller Park in Milwaukee is the home of Inside the Park Nachos, which is basically taco meat on a stick that is rolled in crushed Doritos, fried, and served with cheese sauce, sour cream, and salsa.

10. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS // CHURRO DOG 2.0

Chase Field in Phoenix first served the Churro Dog in 2015. This is not the ballpark hot dog you're used to, but an 1100-calorie dessert. The "dog" is a cinnamon churro, the "bun" is a split Long John donut, and the toppings are frozen yogurt, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, and whipped cream. For 2017, the Churro Dog 2.0 comes dressed up in Oreos! The churro is rolled in crushed Oreo cookies, strawberry topping replaces the caramel, and then a generous helping of more Oreo crumbs is sprinkled on top.

11. MINNESOTA TWINS // TRIPLE SAUSAGE BLOODY MARY

Target Field is offering a new Bloody Mary during Twins games. Hrbek's Pub supplies the new Triple Sausage Bloody Mary, a Bloody Mary with deluxe garnishes including three varieties of sausage (brat, Polish, and andouille), in addition to cheese cubes, peppers, and various fruits and vegetables. You can get a variation with a hamburger garnish if you like!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios