For those of you who didn’t know, Scott is actually my middle name. My given first name is Edward.
Alright, I admit, it’s not the greatest first name in the world. My parents supposedly named me after a couple they knew who had a son named Scott Edward. God bless my parents. Bill and Nancy were wonderful people, but not exactly the most creative folks.
Actually, Edward wasn’t their first choice. As the story goes, my original first name was supposed to Tara. Then on the day I was born, my parents and the doctors got a surprise and they were left in baby name scramble mode at the hospital.
So much for having a back-up plan.
I guess, though, I should be grateful that I became Edward Scott because it could have been much, much worse. I could have been named after some of my relatives on both sides of my family, and whether I ended up a boy or a girl, many of those options would have been, shall we say, not exactly what I would have picked out for myself.
Today, my byline could read Lester Herpst, Sports Editor instead. Or I could have been a Harold, or even a Clarence. And if the ol’ stem had fallen off the apple, so to speak, you might be addressing me today as Shirley, Alta, Irene, or perhaps even Lottie. Don’t get me wrong. Those were fine people and I loved them, but thank God I didn’t inherit their names.
Comical names used to be all the rage WAY back in the day. It was a tradition that started back in the days of the Puritans and went pretty much unchecked until about the 1980’s when parents finally started coming to their senses.
I mean, just take a look back through a list of Presidents we as a nation have elected. Everything was okay for a while: George, John, Thomas, James, Andrew, William. Those are names that can stand the test of time.
But American-style humor also enabled us to vote into office men with names such as Millard, Ulysses, Rutherford, Grover, Woodrow, Herbert and even Lyndon, if for no other reason than we thought it would be funny.
However, names are important because you never know how those names might be used later on, which brings me to minor league baseball and the team soon-to-formerly-be-named-the-Gwinnett-Braves.
For whatever reason, the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate have now decided they need a new brand to generate buzz and, I assume, generate more merchandise sales.
It remains to be seen whether or not the new nickname, scheduled to be unveiled about the time of Major League Baseball’s World Series, will provide the extra economic impact the club is hoping for. But the six final choices are certainly providing buzz, just not in a good way.
Fans were asked to submit their ideas and a consulting firm was hired to think up some as well. Of all the entries, six nicknames were chosen and fans can vote for their favorite of the six on the team’s website over the next few months.
The six finalists, in no particular order of suckyness, are the Gwinnett Buttons, the Gwinnett Big Mouths, the Gwinnett Gobblers, the Gwinnett Hush Puppies, the Gwinnett Lambchops and Gwinnett Sweet Teas.
I swear I’m not making any of these up and judging by the reactions on social media, more than a few G-Braves supporters would rather have parts of their bodies rubbed raw with sandpaper and be forced to dress the wounds with a mixture of lemon juice and habanero sauce than support a team with one of these names.
Minor league name changes are nothing new. It happens a few times every year around the country. But for every home run, like the Kannapolis (N.C.) Intimidators, Hartford (Conn.) Yard Goats or Fresno (Cal.) Tacos, there are big-time whiffs like the Binghamton (N.Y.) Rumble Ponies, Albuquerque (N.M.) Isotopes and the New Orleans (La.) Baby Cakes (don’t ask).
Here locally in the Double-A Southern League, the Chattanooga Lookouts recently complete a series with Jacksonville, who after more than 50 years as the Suns, rebranded itself this off-season as the Jumbo Shrimp. The Artists-Formerly-Known-as-the-Suns now sport caps with what appears to be a roided-up Sea Monkey in the shape of a “J”.
But apparently the Gwinnett brass want a name with ties to the area. Of course, they didn’t bother to consult me on this matter. I, myself, would happily have submitted the Gwinnett Gridlock.
I could envision the Gridlock with asphalt-gray uniforms trimmed in road paint white with a smattering of orange. Merge would be the name of the loveable orange safety cone mascot and I would also suggest that in keeping with the theme, one section of stadium seats be blocked off each home game and surrounded with flashing lights and signs, telling fans that they aren’t allowed to sit there.
I wouldn’t vote for any of the six names Gwinnett has selected because I see no marketability in any of them. (Seriously, how many sweet tea promotions can you actually come up with?) At least Jacksonville did something right with Neck Pillow Night, giving fans a cushiony neck pillow that looked like a shelled, de-veined and sautéed shrimp.
In case you were wondering about the Buttons, well that name comes from the one of the city’s founders, Button Gwinnett, who actually signed THE Declaration of Independence. I guess that fine, if you’re into history and all of that, but I am going to assume the mascot would be a giant button (unless they go with an 18th century politician as a mascot, which doesn’t seem likely).
I just can’t see a button as something a baseball crowd, and a city, can rally behind. For that matter, I simply cannot endorse ANY sort of sewing implement being used as a team mascot.
Which brings me back to my original point about naming your kids. Use extreme caution and think it through before committing to any name because you never know what the future might hold.
I, for one, am just glad Booger Gwinnett did not sign the Declaration of Independence.
Scott Herpst is Sports Editor of the Catoosa County News and the Walker County Messenger.