There’s a lot of excitement these days in Allentown, PA, because minor league baseball is returning to the Lehigh Valley for the first time since 1960.
The team was called the Allentown Red Sox back then because they were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox.
A new ballpark is being built in Allentown. It will be the home of the Phillies’ triple-A franchise starting in 2008.
Yesterday, it was announced the team will be known as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, reflecting on the area’s steelmaking history. “Steel is made from refined pig iron,” wrote Daniel Patrick Sheehan in the Allentown Morning Call. The person who submitted the name was Ron Steele of Northampton. It was one of 3,500 entries.
Online votes and focus groups chose the name from among the Keystones, Gobblers, Crushers, Phillies, Woodchucks, Vulcans and Phantastics.
The IronPigs name has created quite a stir in the Lehigh Valley, according to newspaper reports.
The minor leagues are filled with strange names for teams. Most similar to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs may be the Lansing (MI) Lugnuts.
Checking minor league nicknames that begin with I… There are three teams named Indians (Kinston, Indianapolis and Spokane). Others include the Isotopes (Albuquerque), Intimidators (Kannapolis) and IronBirds (Aberdeen).
All this brings us to the Philadelphia Phillies. The name Phillies, a take-off on the team’s geographic roots, “Philly,” is the oldest, continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional sports.
When Bob Carpenter Jr. purchased the Phillies in 1943, a contest was held to find a nickname for the team. Blue Jays was chosen from among 623 suggestions.
Although it still maintained the official Phillies title, the club was known as the Blue Jays in 1944 and 1945. The new name was used heavily during that time, but then usage began to drop off in the following years. The Blue Jays name never appeared in the newspapers after 1947.