The Binghamton Mets of Binghamton, New York, played 25 seasons in the Eastern League. For each of those seasons, the B-Mets were the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets. The identity was began in 1992, when the Williamsport Bills moved from Pennsylvania to upstate New York’s Southern Tier region and began playing games at Binghamton Municipal Stadium.
When the Binghamton Mets first suited up, the team had parent club-inspired uniforms, complete with blue and orange racing stripes down the sides. The blue caps featured a simple orange Red Sox-esque letter B. The original logo had the word ‘Binghamton’ in a thin-gauge early-nineties computer font along with the the same Mets script as New York’s. This same uniform set was worn through the 1994 season.
They livened things up a bit in 1995, with the introduction of a new mascot/logo character known as Buddy the Bee. Presumably, the bee was a nod to the B-Mets nickname. Buddy became a prominent and permanent addition to the B-Mets’ cap emblem. In addition to Buddy, the B-Mets also updated their uniforms; removing the shirt side stripes and switching to navy and silver cap. Eventually that look gave way to a solid blue cap (and Buddy/B logo) with jerseys that were essentially carbon copies of New York’s.
In the team-issued year 2000 baseball card set, the players were featured wearing a cap with Buddy superimposed on a letter M instead of a letter B. I have not seen this cap anywhere else, so I’m guessing it was either just used that season or was merely a short-lived alternate cap.
Throughout their 25 years, the team help develop a great many productive MLB players and a good handful of future all-stars, including Edgardo Alfonzo, Steve Trachsel, Jason Isringhausen, Preston Wilson, Heath Bell, Carlos Gomez, Jose Reyes, Daniel Murphy, Jeff McNeil, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Perhaps the biggest star to suit up for the B-Mets is David Wright, though time could give the edge to deGrom or Thor. Suffice it to say that the New York Mets had pretty decent and occasionally darn good teams during the time the B-Mets were around, and that it shows on the alumni list.
On the mascot front, Buddy the Bee had remarkable staying power, as did his counterpart, a blue, moose-like creature named Ballwinkle. Both were introduced within a few years of the B-Mets starting up, and made it all the way to the end. At one point, a third mascot named Bingo was introduced. Bingo appeared to have been a bee like Buddy, although one with different physical features and indeterminate gender.
Though the B-Mets were not owned by the MLB Mets, for many years they were a holdout COTOB in an era that saw the vast majority of Double-A franchises take the field with unique identities. This was understandable given the regional relevance of the Mets’ brand, though it stood out like a sore thumb–especially in the later days when the team’s struggles were clearly evident.
And boy, were those struggles clearly evident. For the last several years that the team was known as the Binghamton Mets, they ranked dead last in average per-game attendance in the Eastern League. They typically drew less than 3,000 per game, which is very sub-standard at the Double-A level. Rumors began swirling about the B-Mets being sold to a group that would move them to Wilmington, Delaware, and effectively promote the vital Wilmington Blue Rocks up one level from the Class A-Advanced Carolina League. [MLG Note: in one scenario, the Carolina League franchise would then move from Wilmington, Delaware to…wait for it…Wilmington, North Carolina. Funny thought while it lasted.] These rumors were at least temporarily abated when the B-Mets sold to new ownership, and were given a branding makeover. With much fanfare, the Binghamton Mets identity gave way to the new Binghamton Rumble Ponies.