Battle Creek Yankees
The Battle Creek Yankees of Battle Creek, Michigan, played two seasons in the Midwest League, where they served as a Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The team identity began following the 2002 season, when the Michigan Battle Cats broke their affiliation with the Astros, signed on with New York, and decided to take on a COTOB identity.
I can only speculate as to why the Michigan owners made this move, but I suspect that it was a “let’s try another tack” effort to boost low attendance and fan interest. It’s understandable that they may have felt this way. The Michigan Battle Cats identity was always a bit clunky and vague, and branding can be an easy scapegoat when times are tough. Perhaps they saw the advantage of concentrating their local pride in choosing the Battle Creek place name. It’s also worth noting that the Yankees were at one of their many peaks of success and popularity in the early aughts, so it may have been viewed as an opportunity to piggyback on New York’s success.
The team’s visual aesthetic was similar to that of their parent club, with the major difference being a much more liberal use of the color red. The cap logo was a simple interlocking B and C, while the primary logo had the Yankees’ top-hat-on-bat logo tucked in between the letters. The bat, when combined with the Battle in the team’s place name, gave the team a scrappy, aggressive feel. Excluding some red alternates, the uniforms were typical Yankees fare–midnight blue, pinstripes, etc. The team didn’t exist for long enough to generate a substantial alum list, but two future All-Stars took the field in Battle Creek–Melky Cabrera and Tyler Clippard.
After the 2004 season, New York opted for a Sally League affiliate in the Charleston RiverDogs, and Battle Creek was left empty handed. They linked up with Tampa, and shifted back to a regional moniker by becoming the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. That proved to be merely a last gasp, though, and after two years with that identity, they moved to Midland, Michigan, and became what they are to this day: the Great Lakes Loons.