Here’s a collection of minor league teams that have had multiple cities for their place names. This running list includes teams from 1963-present.
Sometimes two cities band together to support a team, and go with a double place name that is connected with a hyphen or slash. This is different than “merger towns” like Winston-Salem, NC–whose Carolina League Dash have a nickname that references the place name. Rather, this is when two distinct cities form a conjoined place name for baseball purposes.
Albany-Colonie. Colonie (pronounced like colony) is a large suburb of New York’s capital, and in 1983, the town erected Heritage Park. When the Eastern League’s West Haven A’s relocated to Heritage, they took on the place name of the main city instead of the suburb. They played one season as the Albany A’s, but presumably the Coloniests raised a stink. In ’84, they were the Albany-Colonie A’s, but the next year, they switched parent clubs. The Albany-Colonie Yankees were a staple of the Eastern League for ten years before moving to Norwich, Connecticut.
Bismarck-Mandan Pards. The old Northern League had a handful of hyphenators. This one was a simple case of the host city (Bismarck, ND) rolling their neighbor (Mandan, ND) into the place name, possibly in an effort to market the team more broadly. The Pards (short for pardners?) were a Twins affiliate in 1962, shortly after their move from Washington. The entire league winked out of existence in ’66, and when it returned in the Summer of Love, the Pards were no longer in the cards.
Canton-Akron Indians. Following the 1988 season, the Eastern League’s Vermont Reds moved to Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium in Canton, Ohio. A mere twenty miles separate Canton from the much larger Akron, Ohio, and the new Cleveland COTOB team took on both cities in their name. The arrangement ended quickly when Canal Park was built in Akron in 1997. The team moved there, dropped Canton, and took on the Aeros moniker.
Coos Bay-North Bend Athletics. The Oregon coastal cities of Coos Bay and North Bend are often collectively referred to as Coos Bay-North Bend, so this was a natural choice for place name when the Oakland COTOB moved west from the Tri-Cities (see “trios,” below) in Washington state. The CB-NB A’s played in the Northwest League for three seasons in the early seventies. Attendance was weak, and the franchise was moved to Lewiston, Idaho for the ’74 season.
Dallas-Fort Worth. Teams called the Dallas Rangers played in the Texas League and American Association in the late fifties. In 1960, the Rangers expanded their identity to include the entire metroplex, adding Fort Worth into the place name. The Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers joined the Pacific Coast League in 1963, and then reverted back to just Dallas in ’64. In 1965, a new ballpark was built in the suburb of Arlington, and the Texas League added a team called the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs. The Spurs occupied Turnpike Stadium, until an American League team relocated from Washington. The big leaguers booted out the Spurs and took on a vampire identity.
Duluth-Superior. There was a time when both of the Twin Ports had their own Northern League teams–the Duluth Dukes and Superior Blues. In 1956, the Minnesota and Wisconsin cities joined their place names and formed the Duluth-Superior White Sox, playing in Duluth’s Wade Stadium. In ’59, however, they reverted to the host city’s old and more catchy name. The Duluth-Superior Dukes were a mainstay of the Northern League up until 1970, a year before the circuit went belly-up. When Miles Wolff started up the indy version of the Northern League in the nineties, the new Wade Stadium occupant took on a vampire identity.
High Point-Thomasville. Thomasville first invited High Point into their Class D North Carolina State League team identity in 1948. They played as the awesomely-named High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms for eleven seasons, during which time they switched to the Tar Heel League and then the Carolina League. There was no team in Finch Field in the late-fifties and early-sixties, but then the team returned the Western Carolinas League as just the Thomasville Hi-Toms. They invited High Point back in for the ’68 Carolina League season, and then played ’69 as the one-year wonder High Point-Thomasville Royals.
Raleigh-Durham. Two Carolina League teams–the Raleigh Pirates and Durham Bulls–merged after the 1967 season. The new conglomerate split their home games between Durham Athletic Park and Raleigh’s Devereaux Meadow, but kept the Bulls’ affiliation with the New York Mets. Their new identity for that season was the Raleigh-Durham Mets, a one year wonder. They were the Raleigh-Durham Phillies in 1969, and that identity lasted as long as the previous one. In 1970, they were without affiliation, and called themselves the Raleigh-Durham Triangles, a tip of the cap to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill “Research Triangle.” It may has well have been the Bermuda Triangle, because the team disappeared after the ’71 season. Durham was without minor league ball until Miles Wolff resurrected the Bulls in 1980.
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Oregon’s capital city had hosted a Northwest League team until the Salem Dodgers were moved to Yakima in 1990. Another NWL team returned to the area when the the Bellingham Giants were moved into a brand new stadium in Keizer, OR, just north of Salem. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes play to this day.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 1989, the International League’s Maine Phillies moved to a new stadium in Moosic, Pennsylvania, a borough of the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre metro area. Since Wilkes-Barre is already a merger city (like Winston-Salem), the unwieldy place name required a slash in addition to the dash. Their first nickname was a wonderful amalgam of two defunct minor league teams from the area–the Scranton Red Sox and Wilkes-Barre Barons. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, consisting of thirty alphabet/punctuation characters, were the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies through 2006. They then signed a PDC with the New York Yankees, and played six seasons as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. They heavily renovated the old Moosic site in time for the 2013 season, and renamed themselves the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, checking in at a bloated 31 characters.
There are several three-city clusters in the U.S., and a few of them have been represented in the affiliated minor leagues. Though there have been no double-hypenated (city-city-city) place names in the modern era, there are two cities clusters that have used the Tri-City or Tri-Cities place name, and a few others that have alluded to their tri-city status in other ways.
Tri-Cities of Kennewick/Richland/Pasco, Washington. The first minor league team in this Washington State city cluster was the Tri-City Braves, a club that played in Kennewick’s Sanders-Jacobs Field and competed in the Western International and Northwest Leagues. The Braves were what we call a FauxTOB. The identity existed from 1950-1960, variously affiliating with the Cardinals, Phillies, Pirates, and Orioles, though never with the MLB Braves. In ’61, they called themselves the Tri-City Atoms before reverting back to the Braves for an unaffiliated ’62 season. From ’63-’64, they were the COTOB Tri-City Angels, before reverting back to the Atoms for a few years. In 1969, they linked up with Oakland for one season and called themselves the Tri-City A’s. They spent a few seasons in the early seventies as the Tri-City Padres. In ’73, they were back to being unaffiliated and they took on a new nickname that referenced the cities–the Tri-City Triplets. In ’74, for whatever reason, they were the Tri-City Ports. There was then an eight-year fallow period without a team in the Tri-Cities, but for two years in the eighties, Richland hosted a Northwest League team at the high school baseball field. They used an old nickname, but changed their place name. The Tri-Cities Triplets kicked around for a few years, but moved to Boise for the 1987 season. The region was devoid of minor league ball for the rest of the 20th Century. In 2001, a new Northwest League team popped up in Pasco, meaning that all three of the Tri-Cities have hosted a team. The Tri-City Dust Devils play in the Northwest League to this day.
Tri-City ValleyCats. In 2002, a new ballpark was completed in Troy, New York, a mid-sized municipality in New York’s Capital District. The Pittsfield Astros of the New York-Penn League moved in, and the new identity was crafted as a regional draw. In reference to the Troy’s larger neighbors, Albany and Schenectady, they took on the Tri-City place name–despite another Short-Season A club (the Dust Devils, above) taking that particular designator only a year earlier. Furthermore their CamelCase nickname choice paid homage to the Hudson Valley region without stepping on the toes of the existent Hudson Valley Renegades. The Tri-City ValleyCats play in the NY-Penn to this day.
Honorable mention. Even though this page is for place names and not nicknames, it bears mentioning that there have been a handful of minor league nicknames that directly reference city trios. For starters, there’s the aforementioned Raleigh-Durham Triangles, a bizarre instance of a two-city place name paired with a nickname that references the Research Triangle–the three area college towns of Raleigh (NC State), Durham (Duke), and Chapel Hill (UNC). The Triplets moniker has been used a few times in the minors, usually alluding to a three-city cluster. One is the Tri-City/Cities Triplets (above, of Washington State) who had triple-city place name and nickname. Another is the Binghamton Triplets, an identity that popped up variously in the NY-Penn and Eastern Leagues from 1923-1968. That nickname referenced New York’s “Triple Cities” of Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City–site of the ballpark. Now, if you are a fellow minor league geek, you may be asking, “hey, while we’re talkin’ Triplets, what about the Evansville Triplets?” They don’t really qualify here, because they partially named after a tri-state area (Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky) in addition to being a Twins DimDer and having the Triplets/Triple-A connection. They are all of these things, but more than that, they are a Weird Team.
Fox Cities Foxes. The first Appleton Foxes peeked out of their Midwest League burrow in 1962, but they switched things up for the ensuing season. Though the team still played in Appleton’s Goodland Field, they brought a few neighboring Wisconsin cities into their embrace in ’63. The “Fox Cities” is a collective term that includes Appleton, as well as Kaukauna, Neenah, and Menasha. You could make this is a regional place name that also includes neighboring towns, but those four cities make up the bulk of Fox Cities residents. This would only be a temporary designation, though, and for the 1967 season, they were back to just being the Appleton Foxes. Appleton stuck around until the mid-nineties, when the team rebranded and took on a whole state place name. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers play in the Midwest League to this day.
Quad Cities of Davenport (IA), Bettendorf (IA), Rock Island (IL), and Moline (IL). Though technically, the “Quad Cities” also includes a fifth city in East Moline, it’s fair to say that this multi-state regional place name is a four-city cluster in spirit. Minor league clubs have been playing in Davenport’s Modern Woodmen Park since the heyday of the Blue Sox, but they stuck with the single-city place name until after the 1960 season, when the Davenport Braves became the Quad City Braves. Going with “City” instead of “Cities” (sort of like the Tri-City/Cites example above) was an interesting choice. It uses the place name as a descriptive adjective rather than as a freestanding place name. You might say “here in the Quad City area” but also “I’m from the Quad Cities.” Either works, I suppose, and since the QC-Braves, the Midwest League has seen both. In 1962, the team became an affiliate of the nascent American League Los Angeles club, and took on a COTOB identity. The Quad City Angels hovered around Davenport until the late seventies, when they were replaced by the Quad City Cubs. In ’85, the Angels flew back and resurrected the old nickname, but in 1992, the quad squad finally got unique and called themselves the Quad City River Bandits. In 2004, this identity was replaced by a short-lived unusual team identity with reversed place name and nickname: the Swing of the Quad Cities. The switcheroo took away the adjective quality, and when the team brought back their old nickname, they kept the freestanding place name. The Quad Cities River Bandits play in the Midwest League to this day.