Catfish? ScissorTails? Cherry Limeades? What name do you like for OKC baseball?

Catfish? ScissorTails? Cherry Limeades? What name do you like for OKC baseball?

OKC’s Pacific Coast League franchise has ditched the Dodgers and will play nameless in the 2024 season, while awaiting a new name for 2025. Here's my suggestion.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Feb 26, 2024, 10:00am CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Feb 26, 2024, 10:00am CST

(This story originally appeared in Berry Tramel’s newsletter. Subscribe here.)

The Oklahoma City Cattle Kings? The Oklahoma City Comets, with a nod to Mickey Mantle? The Dust Ballers? The Brickbats, the Waving Wheats, the Rustlers, the Grit, the Branding Irons? The Gravy Train, the Cherry Limeades, the Corn Dogs?

What if you had an OKC baseball team and could name it anything you like? What would you choose?

Michael Byrnes and his Oklahoma City Baseball Club staff get to do just that. The club dropped the “Dodgers” name a few months ago and will play 2024 unnamed.

What was that song “America” made famous? “I’ve Been Through the Desert On a Horse With No Name”? Come September, ballplayers on Oklahoma City’s Triple-A franchise in the Pacific Coast League can sing, “I’ve been through the season on a team with no name.”

The Oklahoma City Baseball Club it is for 2024, and that would sound funny if not for the recent experience of the Washington Football Team, which scrapped “Redskins” a few years ago and now is the “Commanders.”

The Dodgers, as they were known from 2015-23, dropped the name a few months ago but will keep the affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA still will provide Oklahoma City with players. But the Oklahoma City Dodger name is no more.

“We really felt like the time was right to have the ability to have a branding that’s going to be local,” Byrnes said earlier this week at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. “The Dodgers affiliation has been such a strong one for us, and being able to carry their brand for a number of years was also great for our community and great for baseball fans in the local area.

“But we also know that people want to have the ability to connect with something that is local to Oklahoma City.”

This process began more than a year ago, but Byrnes said the franchise didn’t want to rush it. So the OKC Baseball Club decided to go nameless. Heck, for all I know, that’s a good marketing strategy. The OKC Baseball Club can sell all kinds of new merchandise in 2024, then have another fresh start in 2025. 

“There was a moment we just kind of decided making sure that we got this right was more important than making sure we did it quickly,” Byrnes said.

I don’t know what we’ll call the team in ‘24. Some still will say Dodgers. 89ers remains the most iconic of the Oklahoma City minor-league names, going back to the Indians in the 1940s and 1950s (when OKC was a farm team of the Cleveland Indians), through the RedHawks days and into the Dodgers.

For all I care, call them the Good-Timers. In the 1970s, the 89ers occasionally were called the Good-Timers, after a venerable marketing campaign built around “Good-Time Baseball.”

But the real question is, what will be the name in 2025 and going forward? 

Byrnes offers no clues on whether the club could return to 89ers or RedHawks. He does say that local and unique are major priorities.

“It does relate to that it’s ours; we control it,” Byrnes said. “That it is something that isn’t seen in baseball. I think it’ll have elements to how that reflects our community and how the new identity weaves into who we are as a franchise…

“Those are all things that come into play and will, as our marketing and activation and game presentation teams get their hands fully on the new marks, they also will find ways to make sure that it is something that people are proud of locally.”

What could be the name? I don’t know. I like ScissorTails. Totally unique. Strong association with Oklahoma. Strong association with Oklahoma City. Lots of ways to go with ScissorTails. 

But does OKC want to get sillier? Some minor-league teams have found identity in the absurd. The Montgomery Biscuits. Hartford Yard Goats. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. 

Could we be seeing the Oklahoma City Catfish come 2025?

“With 120 minor-league baseball teams, you have all kinds,” Byrnes said. “…some really wacky, and it works in each one of those scenarios for different reasons. We used some of those factors for like guidelines, but I don’t know that they ever were certainly off the table. We had to entertain them, what would the reaction be? We tested some with focus groups and just tried to get an understanding of how people would respond if this was the identity for the 2025 moniker and the future.”

Byrnes said some of his staff has been in contact with the Washington Commanders, to see how that National Football League franchise navigated the 2020 and 2021 seasons, when the name was the Washington Football Team.

Byrnes said some of the logos and marks for 2024 could be carried over to 2025.

“I think there is kind of a shot in the arm from just having something unique, and the ability to talk about what’s also coming in ‘25,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes needs the message spread that the Dodger affiliation remains strong. The Dodgers bought the Oklahoma City RedHawks in 2014, renamed the franchise and sold it in 2021 to Diamond Baseball Holdings. But the Dodger contract with Oklahoma City to supply players goes through 2030.

And the Dodger name indeed was good for OKC.

But “one of the keystones of minor league baseball are all these unique names. Knowing we can have something that Oklahoma City controls and has as our own is going to be really important. I’ve discovered in some of these conversations is that now people are saying, we want to get back to having something that’s ours, that’s unique. Especially when we can emphasize, the Dodger piece is going to remain the same.”

So bring on the Catfish, or the ScissorTails, or the Cherry Limeades, and get ready to go through a season on a team with no name.

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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