It seems to me…baseball is coming to our area and the final team choice has produced a relationship that is positive, dignified and sound. Credit for this could be shared by lots of folks, but certainly the Silber family and the Fredericksburg City Council, along with help from city staff who deserve praise for making this a welcoming experience. It appears that the team owners are moving ahead with all the requirements that will lead to the stadium construction with an opening pitch scheduled for next summer. Recent sketches of the proposed stadium look appealing and the planned uses contain some innovations with the best interest of the fans and the team in mind. The only uncertainty remaining is the team name and the Silber family has announced they will reveal it soon. Now, I realize that I don’t have any influence in selecting a name. However, I would like to offer some comments about the selection of a team name to avoid even a hint of controversy in an otherwise smooth community addition.
Unfortunately, we are amid a period of strong divisiveness and sensitivity to names and how and what names or words we use to refer to so many things. So, I believe whatever name is chosen for our baseball team it should not be offensive to anyone and should convey something about the area the team represents. And, while others may disagree with me, I don’t think the name should be silly. We also should recognize that while the stadium will be in Fredericksburg, it really will be supported by folks in the city and the surrounding counties. So, it is my humble opinion that the team name should reflect the area, and not one jurisdiction to recognize that all of us are involved in the team’s support and success.
With these ground rules in mind I made a search of more recent minor league team names that resulted from fans voting or some relationship to history or importance of the area in which the team is located. Some of these include the Vermont Lake Monsters, Montgomery Biscuits, Jamestown Jammers, Kannapolis Intimidators, Clinton LumberKings, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Savannah Sand Gnats, Inland Empire 66ers, Auburn Doubledays, South Bend Silver Hawks, Omaha Storm Chasers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Quad Cities River Bandits, our neighbors the Richmond Flying Squirrels, New Orleans Zephyrs, Las Vegas 51s, Toledo Mud Hens, Reno Aces, Chattanooga Lookouts, Round Rock Express, Albuquerque Isotopes, Frisco Roughriders and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs,
Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want our team to be called Monsters, Biscuits, Intimidators, River Bandits, Squirrels, Mud Hens, or Iron Pigs. These names, while some rooted in history and are not offensive, don’t sound positive or connote a sense of pride. And, some are too location specific despite fans coming from out of the specific area to support the team.
In my humble view, I think the name should cover a broad geographic area, so all fans feel included. This then would eliminate the use of Fredericksburg in the name, although that’s where the stadium will be located. But remember, the stadium location once belonged to Spotsylvania County and was annexed to allow the construction of Central Park.
What is needed then is a name that ties all the supporting areas together and I believe that name is the Rappahannock River. The river flows through the surrounding counties and Fredericksburg. It is steeped in history and would give recognition to the Native Americans who welcomed those who came up the river.
And, along with the river’s name, what could be better than a symbol of strength and courage than any of the raptors found along the river. And, even though the name Raptors is already used by the basketball team in Toronto, our baseball team still could use the name Rappahannock Raptors or become the Rappahannock Eagles or Ospreys, Owls, Hawks or any other raptor found along the river. But since the abundant Eagles are the dominant ones and because it has such a great ring to it, the Rappahannock Eagles sounds right…at least to me.
In addition, using the river’s name, would preserve the association to and the meaning of the Algonquian word the Rappahannock tribe gave to it, which is “river of quick rising water” or “where the tide ebbs and flows.”
The River was here long before the rest of us arrived. It made the area important and is shared by many towns and counties. And, we hope our new baseball team will be shared by all in our area where the river rises quickly and the tide ebbs and flows. But, in the final analysis, whatever the name is, it will be our team to share.
Harvey Gold is a contributing writer at InsideNova. Reach him at StaffordNews@insidenova.com.