The Columbus Catfish of Columbus, Georgia, played five seasons in the South Atlantic League. In those five years, the team served as a Single-A affiliate of two major league teams–the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay. The identity began following the 2003 season, when the former South Georgia Waves opted for a new, more regionally-relevant nickname and brand. The Waves identity was a holdover from the one-year wonder Wilmington Waves, whose location on the North Carolina coast made the alliterative moniker just about perfect. By ’03, the franchise was in western Georgia, and though Columbus is situated on a body of water, the Chatthoochee River isn’t quite known for its cresting whitecaps.
The river is, however, known for its giant flathead catfish, and the team did an exceptional job of creating a well-rounded, local identity. Eschewing the typical adjective-saddled minor league nicknames (BayBears, Hillcats, etc.), the Catfish played it simple and lucked out in the alliterative front. Their primary logo featured a grinning Catfish staring down a fishing hook baited with a Georgia peach. Unbeknownst to the fisherman at the other end of the line, this fish has every intention of smacking the peach with a baseball bat rather than taking a bite. More evidently on the cap logo, the fish’s body roughly forms the shape of a C. Team colors were a pleasing combination of Dodger blue and peach.
At the outset, the team was affiliated with the Dodgers, who had been with the franchise since the Wilmington days. In the first year of the Catfish, they had two notable players–future MLB standout Matt Kemp and future NFL quarterback Brandon Weeden. Los Angeles and Columbus broke affiliation after the 2006 season, and the Catfish signed on with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who would drop the Devil from their nickname during the time that Columbus was an affiliate. The Tampa years were as fruitful as a moderately successful peach orchard, and notable alums include Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, and Stephen Vogt.
As it happened, it was all fish in the pan. After the 2008 season, the team was whiskered away to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Bowling Green Hot Rods played one season (2009) in the Sally League, but for the 2010 season, they were transferred (along with the Lake County Captains) to the Midwest League, where they play to this day.