South Georgia Waves
The South Georgia Waves was a team identity that played one season each in two different southern Georgia cities–Albany and Columbus. For both of those seasons, they operated in the South Atlantic League and served as a Single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The South Georgia identity was born following the 2001 season, when the one-year wonder Wilmington Waves crashed and burned in North Carolina. With the Waves being unable to build a new stadium in Wilmington, they were sold and moved south to Albany, Georgia, which had been devoid of affiliated ball since the departure of the Albany Polecats in 1995. Albany proved no better than Wilmington for building a new stadium for the Waves, and following the 2002 season, the team moved to Columbus, Georgia, which had just lost the Columbus RedStixx. Since the move was only within region, they retained the South Georgia place name as well as the somewhat inappropriate Waves nickname. I mean, there probably something like waves in the Chattahoochee River, but that was a nickname that was originally designed for a team on the North Carolina coast.
The team kept the same branding scheme from the Wilmington era, with a sort of Dodger blue taking primary place. The logo featured a wave crashing over the team name, with the W portion used as a cap logo. Traditionally, a letter on a team’s cap logo is an initial of the place name, so while the W made good sense in Wilmington, it was a bit clunky in South Georgia. Presumably, team ownership was uninterested in creating a new brand until they felt more secure with their stadium situation. There are very few available images of Waves uniforms, but from what I’ve found, they were fairly conservative and reminiscent of their parent club.
Though there were two seasons for the South Georgia Waves, they fielded a nice bunch of future major leaguers. Players who would go on to become significant MLB contributors, for the Dodgers and otherwise, include Edwin Jackson, Russell Martin, Franklin Gutiérrez, Jonathan Broxton, and A.J. Ellis. Unfortunately, there are hardly any available images or baseball cards of players in action.
One has to wonder if the South Georgia waves were merely a placeholder team, and if there was never any honest intent to establish a team. It seems that the team had a For Sale sign on it from the moment they left Wilmington. At one point, there was going to be a deal to sell the franchise to a group led by Cal Ripken Jr. and Don Mattingly, who would move the franchise north to Evansville, Indiana. It’s interesting to consider how this move may have affected the minors. When the Midwest League took on the Lake County (Ohio) Captains and Bowling Green (Kentucky) Hot Rods in 2010, would they have also taken Evansville, and perhaps the West Virginia Power as well? One can only speculate.
Either way, that deal fell through and the Waves stayed in Columbus for the 2003 season. The last wave crashed that year, when the team did a complete brand overhaul, becoming the Columbus Catfish. This team was also short-lived, and after 2008 the team moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where they now play as the Bowling Green Hot Rods.