This poster is a big one, and it’s definitely an eye-catcher here at MLG headquarters. It measures 22″ wide by 39″ tall (about normal poster size) and it features a mere 10 MiLB logos, so each one is individually large and prominent–about 5″ x 5″ each, with some variation. This is double-sided poster, with the same printing on both sides. Presumably, this was intended for window display–likely at hobby shops or other sports stores.
This is another eBay score. The listing came up probably around 2015, and the seller had three of them, if memory serves, and all three were scooped up pretty quickly. When the poster arrived, it was a mix of elation and disappointment. Elation because I knew this would look awesome on my wall, but also disappointment when I realized that there was some damage to the poster. It’s made of a sort of plasticized paper–the kind of stuff where if you held the top edge and shook it, it would make that whoosh whoosh sound. It seems to have degraded some with age, and it is actually brittle. Like right now, I could reach up and snap a piece off the edge if I were so inclined. There are chips along the edge, and you may be wondering what’s going on in the corner, where I tacked a piece of white paper to fill in the missing corner chunk. One benefit to this is that due to damage, there’s no way I’ll be selling it, so I have carte blanche to use tacks to hold it up well. I usually use Command strips on old posters, but they would struggle to hold this heavy beast up on the wall.
Now for the fun stuff! The ten teams depicted on this poster are a near-perfect snapshot of the teams that were actively marketed around the mid-nineties–when I first got hit with minor-league fever. The Lookouts, Mudcats, Crawdads, and Sea Dogs are about as iconic as it gets. The Timber Rattlers, GreenJackets, Snappers, Warthogs, AquaSox, and Navigators were fresh new brands at the time that tapped into the cutesy-animal branding that is still so strong to this day.
I cannot say for certain what year this poster was produced, and even getting down to the nitty gritty details doesn’t give us a definitive answer. The Timber Rattlers, Snappers, Warthogs, AquaSox, and Navigators were all born in 1995, so it’s no earlier than that. The best clue I could get to help put a no-later-than date on it has to do with a tiny detail in the Beloit Snappers logo. In the early days of the Snappers, the cartoon snapping turtle known as Snappy wore a backward cap with the letter B on it. Some time around the year 2000, this letter was switched to a stylized S–the same font that the Snappers use throughout their branding. For now, the earliest use of the S that I can prove is 2001, using the image at the right.
We know the poster was made some time between 1995 and 2001, and it’s hard to narrow it because all 10 of the teams kept the same name and logo for about five years, which is remarkable given the churn at the time. Every one more or less jibes with my 1998 Star Struck poster, so it is hard to pinpoint.
With all that said, if pressed to guess, I would say that this poster was made in 1995. The five aforementioned team identities were brand new, and the poster-makers were likely excited to showcase them. In particular, the Warthogs and Navigators would be unlikely to be there if not for a honeymoon sheen, and the GreenJackets (probably the most surprising entry) were only a year or so old then, and still looking fresh.
If only this awesome poster were still looking fresh.