Yesterday I wondered what the Cleveland Indians should be named if they someday choose to rename themselves (I didn't take a position on the latter question, because I don't have a strong position). Well, that discussion seems to have struck a chord, so I thought we could try it again with the Atlanta Braves ...
Looking at the Indians, I ran through all of Cleveland's previous team names (well, except for the ones I didn't find, but let's forget about that because pobody's nerfect). There were a lot of previous team names. The situation in Atlanta isn't nearly as complicated, so instead of listing every name, instead let's just run through a brief history ...
Big-time professional baseball in Atlanta seems to have started in 1885, with the Southern League's imaginatively named Atlanta Atlantas. There were two iterations of the Atlantas: in 1885 and '86, and 1889.
In 1892, the Atlanta Firecrackers were charter members of a new Southern League. In 1893, they became the Atlanta Windjammers. In 1894, they became the Atlanta Crackers. In 1896, the Southern League seems to have disappeared, displaced by the new Southern Association, with the Crackers joining up. That lasted one season. In 1897, the Crackers were in the independent Southeastern League (and played only 29 league games). In 1898 it was back to a new Southern League, which didn't survive the month of May. Atlanta didn't have a significant presence in professional baseball from 1899 through 1901.
In 1902, a new Southern League, in its second season, replaced the Selma Christians with the Atlanta Crackers, a/k/a Firemen. The Crackers would remain in the league through 1961, when the loop disbanded. In 1962, the International League's Jersey City Jerseys moved to Atlanta and took the Crackers name. The franchise was disbanded after the 1965 season, with the Milwaukee Braves moving to Atlanta.
In 1938, the Atlanta Black Crackers joined the Negro American League. They lasted one season. There were other significant black teams in Atlanta; except for the Georgia Champions in 1886, they all seem to have been called Black Crackers.
I think it's safe to say that neither Crackers nor Black Crackers is going to show up again, anytime soon (except for throwback events). Firecrackers is interesting, but doesn't really feel right. I'm intrigued by Windjammers, if only because I don't know what it means ... Okay, so according to the Big W a windjammer's what you might guess: a grandly large sailing ship. What that has to do with landlocked Atlanta, I don't have the foggiest, but you're probably not going to see Windjammers on a baseball jersey anytime soon.
For inspiration, we'll have to turn elsewhere. So as I did with Cleveland, let's look toward some of the city's nicknames ...
The Big Peach
New York of the South
Chicago of the South
The City Too Busy to Hate
Convention City of Dixie
Are any of those useful for our purposes? Unless you think Atlantans will go for Atlanta New Yorkers or Southern Chicagoans or Conventioneers or Non-Haters, I see just a couple of interesting possibilities there: Atlanta Peaches and Atlanta Dogwoods. Unfortunately, "Dogwoods" would undoubtedly be shortened to "Dogs" and the players probably wouldn't appreciate that much, especially during a dog-days-of-August losing streak. I mean, I'm all for arborial team names; I just don't think there's any chance this one will happen.
On the other hand, it's not at all hard to imagine the Atlanta Peaches. It's got the tie to the old city nickname. It's tied to Georgia's greatest baseball player, Ty "The Georgia Peach" Cobb. And there's even a tenuous link to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, of which the Rockford (Illinois) Peaches were a long-standing (and highly successful) member.
Granted, "Peach" might seem to lack a certain quality of ... masculinity. But do you want to tell that to the Ghost of Ty Cobb? 'cause I sure don't.
My considered take is that Atlanta Peaches is a perfectly acceptable -- nay, a perfectly wonderful name for a baseball team. But as you know, some people do have a real issue with Ty Cobb's documented racial prejudices, and that alone might be enough to queer this name for some interested parties.
I have alternatives.
You don't want to honor Ty Cobb? Okay, so how's about Hank Aaron. His nickname was "Hammer" and the Atlanta Hammer has a really nice ring to it. Oh, and there's a little bonus, especially for the logo designers ... In the Southeast, this member of the woodpecker family is commonly known as the yellowhammer, and in fact it's Alabama's official state bird. So in the tradition of the Cardinals and the Blue Jays and the Orioles, the logo could include the bird -- ideally, with some ornithological correctness -- while the jerseys could include a nifty 44 on the sleeve.
I think Peaches and Hammers make for a couple of really fine finalists, but there might also be some way to honor Atlanta's most famous native, Martin Luther King, Jr. I don't really care for Atlanta Kings ... but what about the Atlanta Dreams? Major League Baseball's already got the RBI program and the annual Civil Rights Game, so why not encourage a franchise to carry the banner 365 days a year, everywhere in the world that follows the game? As far as a logo goes, though ...
That's all I've got today, but I'm sure you'll have some great ideas of your own. You always do.
Postscript: I am terribly embarrassed to note that the Atlanta Dream already exist. Which gives me another excuse to mention how much I hate singular team names.
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