Kannapolis minor league baseball team changing Dale Earnhardt-inspired nickname

Yahoo Sports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Earnhardt in 2001. (Getty)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Earnhardt in 2001. (Getty)

The Kannapolis Intimidators are looking for a new name.

The Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox announced Wednesday that it would be taking suggestions for a new name for the team after the 2019 season. The new name would coincide with the team’s move to a new stadium in downtown Kannapolis.

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The team was initially named the Kannapolis Boll Weevils and renamed the Kannapolis Intimidators in 2000 after Dale Earnhardt had purchased a share in the team. As you likely know, Earnhardt’s nickname was the Intimidator. Earnhardt was killed in a crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.

The nickname stayed with the team after Smith Family Baseball purchased the team from Dale Earnhardt Inc. and other owners in 2004. According to the team’s assistant general manager Vince Marcucci, the decision to change the team’s name has to do with a combination of the town’s evolution as well as NASCAR’s evolution on the sports landscape. The team also doesn’t own the rights to the Intimidators nickname, either. Those are owned by Teresa Earnhardt, Dale’s widow.

From NBC Sports:

“I think millions of people are still Earnhardt fans,” Marcucci said. “But that’s his legacy. Not as much ours, you know? It’s just kind of creating a name that embraces the community for who they are now and who they’re going to be and who they’ve been. … You know it probably as well as I do that so many people are moving to this community from all over the country. It really is a melting pot of our entire country kind of migrating towards the Carolinas. I think we’ve seen over the past couple of years a lot of our fans have kind of been diversified away from NASCAR as well.

As you can imagine, the Earnhardt family was sad to see the decision.

The team’s name submission contest will run through Feb. 13. After fans submit new name suggestions, the team said it will work with a design firm to create uniforms and a logo to go with the best suggestion.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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