New Haven Ravens
The New Haven Ravens of New Haven, Connecticut, played an even ten seasons in the Eastern League. Over that decade, they served as the Double-A affiliate of four MLB teams–the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Toronto Blue Jays.
In 1993, there were 28 major league teams, but only 26 Double-A teams. The nascent Rockies and Florida Marlins were in the process of accumulating players for their farm system, and after one full year in the National League, both teams had an imminent need for a Double-A affiliate. In those days, the Eastern League had only eight teams, and was primed for expansion within their densely-populated geographic footprint. Approximately a dozen cities applied for a franchise, and the winners were Portland, Maine, and New Haven, Connecticut. The New Haven team would play in newly-renovated Yale Field, and share a park with the Ivy League ballplayers in the spring. The New Haven ownership group conducted a nickname contest, and 25 people submitted the winning Ravens nickname. Black and teal were chosen as team colors, meaning that the team could match either of the new MLB teams who would become their affiliate.
The Marlins linked up with their marine brethren, the Portland Sea Dogs, and the Ravens inked a PDC with the Rockies. This affiliation lasted for five years, or half of the total lifespan of the Ravens. Todd Helton is the biggest name on New Haven’s major league alum list, and others from the Colorado era include Jamey Wright and Craig Counsell.
The Ravens had a memorable set of uniforms and logos that would remain fairly consistent through their ten years. Their logo was a black and teal letter R, with a raven’s neck and head forming the major portion of the letter. In their early road uniforms, the full team name was rendered in a looping teal script, with a small full-bodied raven perched in the letters. Two styles of caps were made–solid black and white with pinstripes–and both featured the iconic R logo.
By the end of the nineties, the NFL’s Baltimore franchise were the only Ravens that people were interested in, and New Haven had become a hot potato. In 1999, the Rockies signed on with the Carolina Mudcats (then of the Double-A Southern League) and the Ravens landed with the Seattle Mariners. This affiliation lasted a mere two years, and yielded future big-leaguers like Brian Fuentes, Gil Meche, and Joel Piñeiro. Then came two seasons with the Cardinals, and Coco Crisp donned the black and teal. Finally, there was one year with the Blue Jays in 2003, when Álex Ríos took to the Yale Field grass.
The Ravens’ brief stint with the Jays was a lame duck season. The team was sold to new ownership who felt that New Haven was for the birds–or not for the birds, as it were. After the season, the team was moved to Manchester, New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats play in the Eastern League to this day, and affiliated baseball in New Haven is to be heard from nevermore.