Through Opening Day, we'll be looking at the stories behind some of the greatest team names in Minor League Baseball.
There's more than just a desire to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents behind the Kannapolis Intimidators' name. The Single-A team, then an affiliate of the Phillies, spent one year as the Piedmont Phillies after moving to Kannapolis in 1995 before a name-the-team contest resulted in the comical Piedmont Boll Weevils.
The team stayed loyal to the tiny cotton-eating beetle until 2000. That year, the franchise affiliation switched to the White Sox and Kannapolis native Dale Earnhardt Sr. purchased part of the team. The NASCAR Hall-of-Famer served as the perfect inspiration for a new name. Earnhardt's aggressive racing style had earned him the nickname "The Intimidator"—which is at least as good an option for a baseball team as a bug barely bigger than the tip of a pencil.
The name was announced in November 2000. In February of the following year, Earnhardt died after an accident in the final lap of the Daytona 500. The team kept the name is his honor and avoided assigning the number 3, Earnhardt's race car number, to any players. The team officially retired number 3 on May 15, 2002, in memory of their former co-owner.
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