This page is a place to keep a running list of what I call “vestigial COTOBs.” A vestigial COTOB is a relatively rare phenomenon that occurs when an COTOB (or DimDer) continues to use the same name even when they get a new parent club.
As of this writing, this is by no means a comprehensive list. I will continue to add to it as more are unearthed.
Idaho Falls Braves. The Pioneer League club signed on with Atlanta in 1986 and took on the same nickname. The big-league Braves cut out in ’94, but Idaho Falls kept calling themselves the Braves–as a San Diego Padres affiliate–through the rest of the decade. For the year 2000 season, they became the Idaho Falls Padres.
San Antonio Brewers. The Texas League club was affiliated with Milwaukee for only the 1972 season, but they kept the nickname through affiliate stints with Cleveland and Texas. They finally hung up Brewers in favor of Dodgers in time for the ’77 season.
Utica Braves. This franchise was founded as a Boston affiliate in 1939, and they kept the name as a Tigers and Phillies affiliate before becoming the Utica Blue Sox. Incidentally, the Blue Sox would become a Vestigial DimDer (see below).
Vermont Expos. After the 2004 season, the parent club moved from Montréal to Washington, but the New York-Penn League team kept the old COTOB for one more season.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox. This nickname was originally a riff on the White Sox, who had Western League team in their system in the 1950s. The identity was resurrected in the Pacific Coast League of the late 1980s, and used during affiliation stints with Cleveland, Colorado, and Milwaukee.
Erie SeaWolves. The first SeaWolves were a New York-Penn League local affiliate of Pittsburgh from 1995-98, and adapted the pirate motif. In 1999, they were promoted to the Eastern League and took the identity with them. One problem: the Altoona Curve were also added to the EL that year, and the Pirates chose the slightly closer team in the slightly newer ballpark. The SeaWolves continued with the high seas identity through stints with the Angels and Tigers.
Evansville Triplets. This one’s a little nebulous. Supposedly, the Triplets got their name due to three (of course) factors. 1. They were a Triple-A team. 2. Evansville is in the tri-state region of southern Indiana, near the Kentucky and Illinois border. 3. They were originally an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Three is the magic number, I guess. Though the Twin/Triplet connection wasn’t the only reason for the name, I think it contributed enough to the identity to call them a DimDer, and if so, they were also a vestigial DimDer because of their later affiliations with the Brewers and Tigers.
Louisville Redbirds. There have been many St. Louis DimDers called the Redbirds over the ages, but Louisville was a special case. When the Springfield Redbirds were moved to Louisville in 1982, it was a bit of serendipity that they weren’t just a Cardinals COTOB. The unrelated Louisville University Cardinals shared a ballpark with the Louisville Redbirds. Flash forward to 1998, when Triple-A expanded to accommodate MLB expansion. St. Louis shepherded a new team in Memphis and called them Redbirds. Louisville signed on with the Brewers, but there wasn’t enough time for Louisville ownership to develop the RiverBats. That ’98 season, there were two Triple-A teams called the Redbirds, but only one was with St. Louis.
Newark Co-Pilots. When Newark, New York, got a team in 1968, they held the special distinction of being the sole affiliate of the yet-to-exist Seattle Pilots. Perhaps inspired by that, they came up with one of the best DimDer identities of all time. It was so good that they didn’t let the fact that the major league Pilots crashed after one season. The Newark Co-Pilots kept that glorious name as a Brewers affiliate through the 1978 season.
Rochester Red Wings. I first became aware of the Red Wings in the early nineties, and at that time, I thought their name was a play on their parent club, the Baltimore Orioles. That doesn’t really make sense, but lots of things kids think don’t make sense. A few years back, my mind melted when I realized that the name started in 1929 when Rochester was one of the first ever farm clubs for Branch Rickey’s Cardinals. In ’61, they signed on with Baltimore and stuck with the O’s through 2002. Another affiliation with the Twins followed. It’s pretty special when a vestigial DimDer has been in use for sixty years.
Salem Avalanche. When the Pirates DimDer Salem (VA) Buccaneers signed on with Colorado in 1995, they changed their name for the occasion. While I guess I’ve never seen proof that “Avalanche” was a riff on the Rockies, the evidence is stacked pretty high. For one, they used the Rockies’ team colors/general look. For another, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche also debuted in 1995 and was (anecdotally) a hot brand at the time. Also, there are no avalanches to speak of in Salem, Virginia. After the 2002 season, though a historically interesting shuffle of clubs, the Avalanche landed with the Houston Astros. They kept the nickname as an Astros affiliate through 2008.
Honorable mention: teams that took their nickname from the Philadelphia Phillies’ unofficial Blue Jays nickname from the 1940’s.
Utica Blue Sox (The old DimDer was resurrected and used as an affiliate of several teams–including the Red Sox and White Sox, making for a sort of non-DimDer situation.)
Honorable mention to the honorable mention. A Non-Vestigial DimDer.
The Green Bay Bluejays were a new team in 1946 and were affiliated with the Phillies. Just like these others, right? Nope. There was a team called the Green Bay Bluejays in 1940 (called the Blue Sox in ’41) that existed before Philadelphia started dabbling with the bird nickname. This would make them the rare pre-emptive DimDer. So even though they were called the Bluejays after breaking up with Philly and affiliating with Cleveland, this would not be considered vestigial since it was a non-DimDer to begin with.