There have been no fewer than three affiliated minor league teams that have been called the Burlington Indians, all of whom took their nickname from the American League’s Cleveland franchise. The first team called the Burlington Indians were from Burlington, Iowa, and played in the long-defunct Central Association from 1947-1949. The second team in question hailed from Burlington, North Carolina, and played in the Carolina League from 1958-1964. Though some sources (including Baseball Reference and the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball) call this team the Burlington Indians, newspapers from the time call them the Alamance Indians (after Alamance County) and the teams caps featured an A. The third team called the Burlington Indians is the subject of this DIA entry. By the MLG’s identity-continuity standards, all three of these Burlington Indians are separate identities.
This version of the Burlington Indians of Burlington, North Carolina, played 21 seasons in the Appalachian League. For that entire span, they served as the Rookie Advanced level affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The team was born after the 1985 season, when the Appy League expanded from 7 to 8 teams, adding Burlington. Through all their years, they were a typical Appy League COTOB identity, and for their first decade, their uniforms and other branding elements were direct copies of Cleveland’s, including the since-disgraced Chief Wahoo logo on their caps. Around 1995, they personalized a bit, superimposing Wahoo over a large red letter B, with the feather tucked into the upper loop of the letter. They kept the B cap right up until the end, though in their later days, they introduced a red-crowned version. Additionally, they used the Cleveland’s cursive I in creative fashion on some white uniforms.
Things were much more exciting on the baseball diamond. At the Rookie level, alum lists are typically quite sparse, but Burlington was fortunate to exist just prior to and during Cleveland’s powerhouse nineties era. Over the years, they hosted many notable ballplayers, including Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Brian Giles, Richie Sexson, Russell Branyan, Bartolo Colon, and CC Sabathia.
The end of the Indians era came following the 2006 season, when the team shifted to a new affiliation with the Kansas City Royals. Since then, the Burlington Royals have played in the Appalachian League.