The Portland Rockies of Portland, Oregon, played six seasons in the Northwest League. Over that timespan, they served as the Class-A Short Season affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The Portland Rockies were born following the 1994 season, when the Bend Rockies relocated to the larger Oregon city to play in Civic Stadium, which had been vacated when the Pacific Coast League’s Portland Beavers were relocated to Utah and became the Salt Lake Buzz.
The Bend franchise had been Colorado’s first minor league team, starting play a full season before the major league club. By the time the team moved to Portland, Colorado still had that fresh-team sheen. This may have played a role in the team’s decision to mimic their parent club’s branding materials, and the Portland Rockies were a certainly a textbook COTOB. They used a purple and black color scheme, pinstripes, and the same letter fonts as Colorado’s–with PR replacing CR on the caps. Portland did add one creative twist, though. In honor of the city’s nickname “Rose City,” they had long-stem roses twining through both their cap logo and jersey wordmark. This simple detail flipped the brand from bland to grand.
On the diamond, it was quantity over quality for Portland. For a low-level team, they had a relatively large number of players on their rosters who would crack the majors. Though there weren’t any huge names to don the rose-and-pinstripes, there were five Portland Rockies who would go on to become Major League All-Stars: Chone Figgins, Jake Westbrook, Shawn Chacón, Brad Hawpe, and Aaron Cook. Furthermore, there were some notable MLB journeymen, including Juan Pierre, Jason Jennings, and Clint Barmes. As it turned out, the biggest name associated with the Portland Rockies was broadcaster Colin Cowherd, who covered the team after moving on from a similar post with the Las Vegas Stars.
By the dawn of the new millennium, things had gotten thorny in the Rose City. There was momentum to bring back a Triple-A club, and sensing the inevitable, the Portland Rockies bolted for Pasco, Washington (one of the three “Tri-Cities”) after the 2000 season–a full year before the Albuquerque Dukes were moved to Portland to become the last incarnation of the Beavers. The Tri-City Dust Devils play in the Northwest League to this day, and the Portland Rockies were uprooted long ago.