The Connecticut Defenders of Norwich, Connecticut, played four seasons in the Eastern League. For that entire span, the team served as the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Defenders identity began when the Norwich Navigators were sold to an ownership group that wished to boost lagging fan interest with an identity update. The nickname was chosen in reference to both a Coast Guard base and a submarine base in the greater Norwich area. The place name was changed to Connecticut, presumably to boost statewide interest in the team; although they weren’t the only minor league team in the Nutmeg State, and the New Britain Rock Cats played in the same league.
Team colors were black, navy blue, and steel gray. They had several logos designed, all of which kept with the nautical military theme. The primary logo was based around a submarine formed by a baseball bat, and a secondary logo was two of these bat-subs crossed over a baseball. Another logo had the C and D initials rendered in steel gray with rivets.
Though this was a short-lived team, they caught lightning in a bottle with future MLB stars. Being the Double-A affiliate of the Giants just before their dynastic run meant that many key contributors to San Francisco’s three championship teams of the early teens took the field at Dodd Stadium. The biggest names are Madison Bumgarner, Sergio Romo, Brandon Crawford, and Pablo Sandoval.
And short-lived this team was. In 2009, a Virginia businessman expressed interest in buying the franchise, and Connecticut’s owners could not defend themselves against such a temptation. The new owner moved the team to Richmond, Virginia, a city that was devoid of minor league ball following the move of the Richmond Braves to Gwinnett County, Georgia. The new team was called the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and they play in the Eastern League to this day.