The pantheon of wacky minor league baseball team names has a new member.
The Mobile Baybears, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, are moving from Mobile to Madison, Alabama after the 2019 season. The move came with the opportunity for a name change, and the local community took full advantage of the opportunity to create something unique: The Rocket City Trash Pandas. Madison is part of the Huntsville metropolitan area, and Huntsville’s nickname is the “Rocket City.”
The name was announced via video during a ceremony:
Here is the big reveal of the baseball team coming to North Alabama. Rocket City Trash Pandas!!! pic.twitter.com/OAJf6sjXJ1
— Lynden Blake (@LyndenBlake) September 6, 2018
The Trash Pandas won the naming vote in a landslide
A release from BallCorps, the ownership company of the franchise, said the new name dominated the voting process to pick the team’s name. In the final round of voting, the Trash Pandas reportedly received 41.37 percent of the vote against the ThunderSharks, Moon Possums, Space Chimps and Comet Jockeys.
The club’s website received 28,560 nominations and votes from the community, which BallCorps says is the largest community participation in a “Name the Team” contest in MiLB history. Matthew Higley, who nominated the name, will be rewarded with the first pitch at a Trash Pandas game and two box seats at the stadium for the first five years of play in Madison.
— Carl Prather (@CarlPratherWAFF) September 5, 2018
Time will tell if the new name might lead to a spike in merchandise sales from Marvel fans like the Albuquerque Isotopes received from their Simpsons-inspired name change. Why? The name just happens to have a few too many connections to a certain Marvel character to be a coincidence.
Is the Rocket City Trash Pandas a Marvel reference?
The Trash Pandas name appears to be a reference to Rocket Raccoon, a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. He’s a loud-mouthed talking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. He’s obsessed with weapons, but afraid of showing emotional vulnerability.
One character also calls him a trash panda during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The Trash Pandas’ entry on the ballot seemed to allude as much, saying “Our community is known for engineering, and no creature in our galaxy is as smart, creative, determined and ingenious a problem solver — dedicated to the challenge at hand — as our local raccoons!”
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