Sarasota Red Sox
The Sarasota Red Sox of Sarasota, Florida, played eleven seasons in the Florida State League. During that time, they served as the Class-A Advanced level affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
The team identity began following the 1993 season, when the New York Yankees booted up an FSL team in Tampa, abandoning the Carolina League’s Prince William Cannons. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox, who would move their spring training from Florida to Arizona a few years later, opted to sign with the Cannons. This left the Sarasota White Sox franchise without a major league team, and Boston came calling. The typical arrangement in the FSL is that the teams play in their parent club’s spring training complex, but in any given season, there are usually a few exceptions. As Boston trains in Fort Myers, both then and now, the Sarasota Red Sox fall into this category.
Throughout the team’s existence, the Sarasota Red Sox were a quintessential COTOB club, and their uniforms were very similar to that of Boston’s, with a little creative color variation here and there, such as red caps in the mid nineties. The cap logo was a letter S rendered in the same font as Boston’s B. In 2000, they added a new mascot to their brand, who was apparently a gecko named Gordy. In addition to the costumed character, a cartoon version of Gordy was added to the cap, intertwined with the S and peering over his sunglasses. Though he is nominally a gecko, I would say that his physical features (brown skin, long face) are closer to that of the green anole, the lizard (often erroneously called a “chameleon”) that is ubiquitous along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The lion’s share of Boston’s top prospects in this era passed through Sarasota, and future big league notables include Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jeff Suppan, Shea Hillenbrand, David Eckstein, Kevin Youkilis, and an incredibly stacked 2004 squad that included Hanley Ramírez, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Moss, Jonathan Papelbon, and John Lester. Additionally, the BoSox sent many greats to their complex in Sarasota for injury rehab assignments.
That stacked 2004 squad would prove to be the last of the Sarasota Red Sox. Following the season, Boston switched their High-A affiliate to their recently purchased Salem franchise in the Carolina League. The FSL club, meanwhile, linked up with Cincinnati and became the Sarasota Reds. That team was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, who moved them a few miles north to their own spring training site, where they now play as the Bradenton Marauders.