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2009-2013 Vermont Lake Monsters - Fresh Fitted Friday!!!!
When I wrote about my Ft. Myers Miracle capa few months ago, I briefly mentioned Jeffrey Loria’s role in moving the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. Well, this week's Fresh Fitted is a Vermont Lake Monsters cap from 2009-2013 that I picked up a little while back and it ties back to that story...at least partially, but we’ll get to that later.
This is a very unique cap design and I appreciate the white front panel here.
This close-up shot kind of brings attention to the poor detail in the artwork. Does that even look like a baseball bat?
Some standard inside sweatband tags...no big whoop.
I definitely dig the green on the batterman patch. This is a nice touch.
The reason I chose to bust this hat out now is because the cap logo reminds me of the newly rebranded logo for the Norfolk Tides, which is my childhood hometown team. I don’t wish to take the focus too far off the Lake Monsters but I should note that immediately after the updated Tides cap logo and uniforms were unveiled on December 2, social media was ablaze with consternation over the new look.
If you’d like to see for yourself you can head over to the Norfolk Tides Facebook page but I must warn you: the one thing I will say about the Tides' history and background is that people in Norfolk aren’t too crazy about change when it comes to their beloved minor league ball club, or change in general really.
It perplexed me that the fans would so quickly scorn the team’s effort to sprig new life into a stale identity. I don’t wish to contend that a surly seahorse is the best representation of my hometown Tides but I think it’s unique at least and that this type of logo plays well in most minor league markets.
These curmudgeons in Norfolk might not "get it" now but the fun folks in Burlington, VT are more open-minded when it comes to such things. Ever since the Jamestown Expos moved to Vermont in 1994, fans have come in droves to Centennial Field from mid-June to early Septemberto cheer on their team and show love for “Champ" who has served as team’s mascot since their inaugural season.
Unfortunately, the fun-loving vibe of this Class A Short Season team was never something its parent club felt in Montreal, which by the time of its unsurprising demise was owned by Jeffrey Loria. After many years of difficulties in Montreal it was decided that the Expos would relocate to Washington, D.C. and become the Washington Nationals, however the move was not announced until the very last week of the 2004 season. This late timing did not leave the the Vermont Expos very much time to rebrand themselves so they were allowed to continue to use the name for the 2005 season.
A vote-casting contest for fans to rename the team began in June 2005 and while the majority chose to honor "Champ" as the team’s namesake, the organization did not feel that a team should be called the “Champs” if they had not made a postseason appearance since 1995. Instead, the team would be known as the “Lake Monsters” which was another name that garnered a large amount of votes. This name also makes sense as it references Champ’s home which is undoubtedly somewhere in the depths of Lake Champlain.
My hope is that eventually the Tides fans will realize that this change is for the best and that it will lead to increased merchandise sales similar to other clubs who have also recently gone through the rebranding process. My reasoning for this is positive outlook is not only because I have an affinity for the Tides but because I’m aware of the trends that many successful minor league teams seem to follow.
Look no further than MILB's Clash of the Caps contest in 2014 where fans voted on the best cap logos throughout all of Minor League Baseball. That year’s Norfolk Tides logo landed at 99 out of 101 while newer teams like the El Paso Chihuahuas and the Richmond Flying Squirrels took the top two spots. I think it is no small coincidence that each of those teams feature enraged animals as their cap logo.
The fine work of Brandiose is seen in these zany Chihuahuas and Flying Squirrels caps.
The San Diego based design firm Brandiose was responsible for the Chihuahuas and the Flying Squirrels logos and their updated version of the Vermont Lake Monsters cap finished in 17th place which is impressive considering that this cap design debuted in 2014. The fact that Brandiose is responsible for the Tides' 2016 rebranding should be an indication that these guys know what they are doing even if fans don’t realize it right away.
The whole debacle among these stubborn fans has actually become comical in a way. I can only imagine the outrage that would ensue if the team would just do away with the “Tides” part of their name completely. When the team was founded in 1961, they were originally meant to be named the “Mariners” however a lazy man’s affinity for alliteration let to team to be known as the “Tidewater Tides” instead. The name has stuck around for years and when the Tides moved into a new ballpark a few miles down the road in 1993, they decided to become known as the “Norfolk Tides” which made even less sense.
I can’t help but think that the best way to name the team would be to incorporate the city’s fascination with Mermaids and to rename the team the "Norfolk Mermen” but I can only imagine the uproar now. If Norfolk fans have difficulty appreciating the work of a genius design firm like Brandiose, I doubt they’d be able to grasp the badassery of a Merman as their mascot.
Triton is definitely not someone you want to tangle up with.
Regardless, I’m sure it would be difficult for any baseball team to procure the name rights to be known as “Mermen” since HBO used the moniker on their hit show Eastbound & Down. In its third season, the show's lead character, “Kenny Powers”, was a member of a fictional team called the “Myrtle Beach Mermen” and the filming of the games took place at Pelicans Ballpark which is a real-life ball field in Myrtle Beach.
Kenny is a dude you don't want to mess with either.
It also seems as though the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are still allowed to sell merchandise with “Mermen” branding so it would indeed be a difficult feat for the Tides to become the “Mermen" even if the fans were to get behind it. I’m sure that if given the option, the fans might even go for it as over the years, I’ve noticed a fair amount of visible resemblance between “Kenny Powers” and the male fans in attendance at Tides games. Viva La Mullet!
In closing, cheers are in order to the 10th anniversary of the team known as the Lake Monsters and here’s hoping that the fans in Norfolk can take their cue from some of the other successful minor league teams who have enjoyed successes in their rebranding campaigns. Hopefully they can remember that minor league baseball is all about fun when they welcome their team back in 2016!
Even though this cap isn't one of my favorites, there's no need to put it on the Trading Block since it's not going to be desirable to most collectors other than Made In U.S.A. junkies however don't hesitate to reach out if there's something you like on the Trading Block and you are willing to part with any of the hats on my Wish List.
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