CLOSE
Original image
Minor League Baseball PR

How the Richmond Flying Squirrels Got Their Name

Original image
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.

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

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.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios