The Kissimmee Cobras of Kissimmee, Florida, played six seasons in the Florida State League. For that entire span, they served as a Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
The team identity began like so many others in the nineties–a rebranding from a COTOB to a unique identity. In this case, it was the Osceola Astros, with the Osceola place name referencing Osceola County, where Kissimmee (pronounced like “kuh-sim-ee”) is located. For the new identity, they embraced their city name, and introduced the Cobras identity. Taken together, the full team name didn’t sound unlike “kiss me, cobras,” and the dissonance between place name and nickname enhanced both and made for an indelible identity.
The overall branding could be described as what a preteen boy in the nineties would find to be cool. The team used dark colors–black, midnight blue, and even brown, with bright emerald green used as contrast. Their logo was a fierce-looking emerald cobra, coiled around a baseball and ready to strike. On the jerseys, the cobra’s body was stretched out into an elongated letter C, followed by the rest of the letters rendered in cursive font. In recent years, the team has been a favorite target of replica manufacturers, and new caps with the old coiled cobra are readily available for purchase.
The Cobras, like the Osceola Astros before them, played in Houston’s spring training facility, and functioned as the typical FSL complex-style affiliate. As such, their exclusive MLB parent club was the Astros, and a nice handful of future major leaguers suited up for Kissimmee. The one-time Cobras who would go on to All-Star caliber careers are Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Freddy Garcia, Morgan Ensberg, and Brad Lidge.
By the end of the 20th century, the Cobras’ snake charm had worn off, and this coincided with a notable change to the minor league structure. Throughout the nineties, there was a gradual push to separate the full season Single-A level into two distinct levels (what are commonly called High A and Low A) each with a number of teams equal to the number of MLB teams, with one affiliate each per level. This process reached completion in 2003, but before that could occur, the list of High-A teams had to be trimmed down to thirty. The two victims came from the FSL: the St. Petersburg Devil Rays and, yes, the Kissimmee Cobras. Following the 2000 season, these two franchises were contracted from existence, and two new Low-A teams (Wilmington and Lexington) were created. The High-A level has only 30 teams to this day, and the Cobras slithered away into minor league memory long ago.