What is the DIA?
The Defunct Identity Archive (DIA) is a project under construction that, when/if completed, will be a comprehensive collection of every defunct minor league team/identity within the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL). In phase one, a webpage will be created for each of the 700+ team/identities that have become defunct from 1963 to the present day. This year was chosen because it is the arguably the most significant turning point in minor league history due to the major overall of league structure and the removal of several leagues/teams from the minors as defined in the National Agreement. Once this process is complete, work may begin (a theoretical Phase Two) on defunct teams prior to 1963.
What is the point of the DIA?
Admittedly, much of this information is already available on many fine websites, including Baseball Reference, Fun While It Lasted, Chris Creamer’s sportslogos.net (including their excellent Story Behind the Name series), and even good old Wikipedia. To sum up the potential value of the DIA, I would use four words: comprehensiveness, searchability, attention, and observation. The goal is to have a complete and comprehensive archive of defunct team identities that is searchable by a variety of categories. Each entry will be given intense and thorough attention and include the first-person observations and explanatory context that are often sorely lacking in the dryer sources.
What teams/leagues will and won’t be in the DIA?
The leagues represented are the 14 that currently stretch from Rookie-Advanced (ARO) level up to Triple-A, as well as defunct leagues that operated within this same structure. Those two ARO leagues (the Pioneer and Appalachian) are the only rookie leagues with teams in the DIA. There are some good stories to tell from the “complex leagues,” such as the AZL, GCL, DSL, and VSL, but they will not be in the DIA. Defunct identities from the Mexican League and the Arizona Fall League are not included either, though they will likely get other coverage on this site. Any leagues outside of the NAPBL (such as independent, collegiate, etc.) will also be mentioned here and there, but their defunct identities will not be included in the DIA.
How does the DIA work?
A reader will be able to view any of these 700+ team pages by browsing several categories, including city/place name, nickname, state, and league. It’s a fairly old school-Internet, nesting-doll style of browsing, where one category leads to a page of sub-categories, and so forth until the end destination (the individual team page) is reached. It’s quirky and often clunky, but the system works for me.
What does “identity” really mean?
It can sometimes be difficult to define what team continuity truly is, and this is particularly challenging in the minors. In American major professional sports, we are accustomed to the concept that a team’s identity continuity is essentially defined as a continuous history that remains unbroken by franchise relocation, renaming, etc. There are some exceptions to this rule (the NFL’s Cleveland Browns being a prime example) but generally speaking, a team is defined as either a property holding or as a group of people (owners/players/staff) that continues year to year.
This concept is more fraught in MiLB due to a variety of factors, including annual roster overall, MLB affiliation changes, frequent relocation/renaming, and even teams switching leagues yet retaining their brand identity. To the mind of the Minor League Geek, it makes more sense to roughly consider a team identity to be a particular place name paired with a particular nickname. For instance, there are no fewer than five versions of the iconic Toledo Mud Hens that have existed at different times. Some of these versions would fold and then reappear in different leagues, but they were still called the Toledo Mud Hens. Would one fault the current Toledo Mud Hens for claiming synonymous identity with the previous four Mud Hens teams? From where I sit, any Toledo Mud Hens are the Toledo Mud Hens. There are certainly exceptions to any of these rules, so suffice it say that it is ultimately a judgment call made by the MLG. When it gets tricky, I used the proprietary “3 of 4 Rule.”
Enjoy the journey through the minors!
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