West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx
The West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx of Jackson, Tennessee, were a team/identity that existed in the Southern League for 13 years. During this time, they served as the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and later, the Seattle Mariners. The Diamond Jaxx began after the 1997 season, when the Memphis Chicks (having been displaced by the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds) moved a bit to the northeast, where a brand new ballpark was constructed in Jackson. The new team inked a PDC with the Chicago Cubs and took to the field at Pringles Park (yes, named after the chips) in 1998.
For reasons unknown, the team called itself the Diamond Jaxx. Was it a play on the nickname of the brand new Arizona Diamondbacks–perhaps a ploy to entice affiliation? Was Diamond a reference to baseball diamond and Jaxx for Jackson? Is a diamond jack like a lumberjack for diamonds, despite there being no diamond mines in Tennessee? Is it a reference to the jack of diamonds playing card? The answer to this question may be buried forever. The inaugural uniform set featured emerald green, white, and black team colors, and the cap logo was a simplistic letter J, possibly in the shape of home plate, and with a crown atop it for some reason. For their primary logo, a black diamond formed the space between the two X’s. Nice touch.
Around 2002, their visual aesthetic was redesigned in a major, and somewhat historic way. Two graphic design students sent letters looking for work to 150 minor league teams and received only one response: the Diamond Jaxx. The designers came up with a mustachioed diamond miner with a pick axe for a bat, and this branding theme continued for the rest of the West Tennessee’s time. The emerald green was retained, and the new cap logo featured the miner cradled in a stylized letter J–presumably for Jaxx. This was the first client for those two designers who would go on to found the Brandiose company and design and update many minor league brands. Someday, we’ll look back on this current time period as the Brandiose Era, and it all started in West Tennessee.
On the baseball diamond, a few notable prospects were mined during those lucky thirteen years. Considering they were with the Cubs for only nine seasons, there’s a decent little pocket of alumni from that time, including Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Geovany Soto, and Carlos Marmol. In 2007, the Jaxx linked up with the Mariners. Things weren’t quite so notable in these years, where the biggest names are players like Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, and Doug Fister.
Following the 2010 season, the Diamond Jaxx identity wasn’t shining brightly enough, and the team rebranded to become the Jackson Generals, where they play to this day in the same ballpark once built for the Jaxx. Interestingly, the team’s new identity was identical to that of a defunct Jackson Generals, a team from Jackson, Mississippi that played in the Texas League up until 1999. That means that for two seasons, there was a team called the Jackson Generals and another (also Double-A) team that would later be called the Jackson Generals–the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx.