The DimDer Depot is a page dedicated to keeping a running list of minor league nicknames that are diminutives or derivatives (DimDer) of their MLB parent club. As of this writing, this is by no means a comprehensive list. I will continue to add to it as I unearth more of them.
DimDers can take many forms, but the simplest explanation is that they are identities which are unique/different from the parent club, but are clearly influenced by the parent club. Examples of diminutives include the Moultrie Colt .22’s (for Houston Colt .45’s) and Rockford Cubbies (for Cubs). Derivatives include the Memphis Redbirds (for Cardinals) and Salem Avalanche (for Rockies). The many iterations of the Redbirds over the years are examples of a minor league team taking on a widely-popular nickname for their MLB parent club, similarly to if minor league clubs were called the Tribe (for Cleveland) or the Bombers (for the New York Yankees). It’s a fine line, but I consider these type of nicknames to be different than A’s for Athletics since that “nickname of a nickname” is used to refer to the MLB team about as frequently (if not more) than the full nickname. So even though A’s is a diminutive of Athletics, I don’t consider, say, the Modesto A’s to be a DimDer.
I also consider a team to be a DimDer if the minor league team takes their name from a player who was heavily associated with the MLB affiliate, so long as there is a name origin connection with that parent club. Two current examples of this are the Aberdeen IronBirds (for Cal Ripken Jr./Orioles), and Round Rock Express (for Nolan Ryan/Rangers and Astros). It can venture into the subjective at times, but I feel that I have a reasonably clear sense of when something is classified as a DimDer.
Aberdeen IronBirds – Orioles (Cal Ripken Jr.) 2002-present
Bradenton Marauders – Pirates, 2010-present
Charleston ChaSox – White Sox, 1959
Charlotte O’s – Orioles, 1976-1988
Clinton C-Sox – White Sox, 1960-1965
Colorado Springs Sky Sox – White Sox, 1950-1958 (later used as vestigial DimDer)
Columbus Confederate Yankees – Yankees, 1964-1966
Deerfield Beach/Winter Haven Sun Sox – White Sox, 1966
Elmira Red Wings – Cardinals, 1932-1934
El Paso Sun Dodgers – Dodgers, 1972
Erie SeaWolves – Pirates, 1995-present (vestigial DimDer)
Evansville Triplets – Twins, 1970 (later used as a vestigial DimDer)
Hamilton Red Wings – Cardinals, 1939-1954, 1956
Knoxville Sox – White Sox, 1972-1979
Lakeland Flying Tigers – Tigers, 2007-present
Louisville Redbirds – Cardinals, 1982-1998
Macon Redbirds – Cardinals, 1983
Memphis Redbirds – Cardinals, 1998-present
Middlesboro Cubsox – Cubs and White Sox (Co-op), 1963
Moultrie Colt .22’s – Colt .45’s, 1962-1963
Newark Co-Pilots – Pilots, 1968-1979
Niagara Falls Sox – White Sox, 1982-1985
Orlando Rays – Devil Rays, 1997-2003
Reading Fightin’ Phils – Phillies, 2013-present
Rochester Red Wings – Cardinals 1929-present (vestigial DimDer)
Rockford Cubbies – Cubs, 1995-1998
Round Rock Express – Astros/Rangers (Nolan Ryan) 2005-present
Salem Avalanche – Rockies, 1995-2008
Salem Buccaneers – Pirates, 1987-1994
San Antonio Bullets – Colt .45’s, 1963-1964
Springfield Redbirds – Cardinals, 1978-1981
Tucson Sidewinders – Diamondbacks, 1998-2008
Honorable mention: teams that took their nickname from the Philadelphia Phillies’ unofficial Blue Jays nickname from the 1940’s.
Bradford Blue Wings – Phillies, 1944-1949
Salina Blue Jays – Phillies, 1946-1952
Schenectady Blue Jays – Phillies, 1946-1957
Utica Blue Sox – Phillies (also became a Vestigial DimDer and Non-DimDer of the Red Sox and White Sox)
Honorable mention to the honorable mention:
The Green Bay Bluejays were a new team in 1946 and were affiliated with the Phillies. Just like these others, right? Nope. There was a team called the Green Bay Bluejays in 1940 (called the Blue Sox in ’41) that existed before Philadelphia started dabbling with the bird nickname. This would (sort of) make them the rare pre-emptive DimDer.
Quincy Jets. After the 1961 season, the Midwest League’s Quincy Giants were dropped by San Francisco. For 1962, Quincy found a new parent in the brand new New York Mets, and they immediately changed their nickname to Jets. It could be a coincidence, but when the Mets bolted after the ’63 season, the Illinois team immediately reverted to their heritage identity–the Quincy Gems.
Riverside Pilots. In 1993, the California League’s Reno Silver Sox (second version) was moved to the Inland Empire and the Seattle Mariners took them under their wing. The new franchise adopted the Mariners’ new and popular navy/silver/teal color combo, and took on a name–Pilots–that nodded (intentionally or not) to Seattle’s baseball history. I had assumed that the name was simply a nod to Riverside County’s March Air Reserve Base, but fellow Minor League Geek Brian Stanley sent me a newspaper clipping that had a quote about the name from the team’s GM: “It’s got both that nautical and aeronautical feel to it.” Does that make it a DimDer? I’m thinking about it.
Other lists involving DimDers: