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How the Richmond Flying Squirrels Got Their Name

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Minor League Baseball PR

Through Opening Day, we'll be looking at the stories behind the greatest team names in Minor League Baseball.

Fans in Richmond, VA were only without baseball for one season following the 2008 departure of the Richmond Braves. America's pastime would return to River City for the 2010 season in the form of the Giants' Double-A affiliate.

The team had previously been known as the Connecticut Defenders but, as is often the case, the move served as a prime opportunity to update the name. In conjunction with The Richmond Times-Dispatch the team solicited suggestions from fans, receiving over 6,000 entries. The front office narrowed it down to five finalists: the Flatheads, the Flying Squirrels, the Hambones, the Rhinos and the Rock Hoppers. Meanwhile, CNBC.com held their own contest to determine a "wild card" entry and were flooded with over 9,000 options. Sports business reporter Darren Rovell chose Hush Puppies as the final finalist saying, "It's kid-friendly, has great mascot possibilities and I'm sure it will be a very popular concession item."

The field was soon slimmed back down to five, however. Complaints arose that "Hambones," which was intended as a reference to Virginia ham, is derogatory towards the African-American community. Historically, "hambone" was the name of a dance brought here by enslaved West Africans and later performed at minstrel shows.

From the final five, the front office was tasked with selecting the official new nickname. Displaying an admirable lack of self-seriousness, the team was unveiled as the Flying Squirrels on October 15, 2009. Brad Mead, the man responsible for the winning suggestion, won two season tickets to Flying Squirrels' games for life.

The name was a quick favorite: the team led the Eastern League in attendance in their debut season, and boasted the top-selling merchandise in all of Minor League Baseball.

See all our mascot stories.

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Fox Sports, YouTube
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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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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]

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Great Big Story, Youtube
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Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
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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:

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