What’s in a name? Hagerstown is looking for branding help for its baseball team

In professional sports, team names mean everything. Just look at the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens franchises – beautifully paired ornithologically, historically and literary (the latter being a nod to Edgar Allan Poe). We’re not claiming that the teams’ successes this year were driven by their well-chosen nicknames. Or that the names were even, in retrospect, hard calls to make, given the dearth of species called “Baltimore something or other” or giant literary figures who wrote about a crow and are now buried in Baltimore. But, hey, the names obviously didn’t hurt. Just take a look 50 miles south of the Washington, D.C. area, where baseball and football fans are stuck with, respectively, “Nationals” (all too obvious) and “Commanders”, a post-Redskins, post-WFT (Washington Football Team) title so bland and borrowed that the NFL team (being sold) was recently denied a trademark for it.

This brings us to Hagerstown, which is once again at a crossroads befitting “Hub City”, but more on that in a moment. For those who haven’t necessarily paid attention to minor league sports in western Maryland, Hagerstown is trying to create a Baltimore-style downtown revival with a new multipurpose stadium built with the money of the taxpayers – a $70 million project overseen by the Maryland Stadium Authority. It will be home to a Single-A Atlantic League of Professional Baseball franchise, having lost the Hagerstown Suns, an affiliate of the Nationals, which folded after the 2020 season after 40 years.

So goodbye Suns, hello… what? That’s the question, and the effort to answer it has been joined by the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, the local newspaper, and franchise owners Downtown Baseball LLC. They are sponsoring a contest to find the new name. People have until June 5 to participate (just click on the Herald-Mail website link, Up to 15 winners can qualify for prizes ranging from season tickets and gear to two single-game tickets.

Alas, there’s no obvious feathered choice — though we’ve always loved the osprey (just take a look at University of North Florida mascot Ozzie) — we suspect Sun readers are up for the challenge. Calling people by names is kind of a Baltimore thing. So to get those creative juices going, and maybe start filling out those signup forms, we can offer these four suggestions:

Hagerstown hubs. Hagerstown earned the title of “Hub City” in the 19th century as it was an important hub for various railroads including the Baltimore & Ohio. We can imagine hubcaps in the logo and maybe a 1950s vibe. The mascot could be a drunk “husband” telling dad jokes if that’s not considered too sexist.

The Airmen. It is also related to the story. Not only is there a regional airport in Hagerstown, but Fairchild Corporation (later Fairchild Industries) once employed 10,000 people in Hagerstown to build planes – until the factory closed in 1984. Still, planes are cool . There could be a connection to “Jay Jay the Jet Plane”, the children’s show from the 1990s.

Ransomware. OK, unconventional we grant you, but Hagerstown is famous as one of three towns in Maryland held for ransom by the Confederate Army in search of cash and clothing during the Civil War. And the locals paid for it. Perhaps tackling the more contemporary problem of malware would put Hagerstown on the high-tech map.

The Hagers. Have you ever wondered where the name Hagerstown comes from? It was Jonathan Hager, the Franco-Indian war veteran of German origin who founded the place in the 18th century. Wouldn’t an actual version of the comic book character “Hägar the Horrible” look cool as a mascot? Slight differences in spelling shouldn’t matter. After all, we are talking about baseball.

The Baltimore Sun’s editorial writers offer opinion and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the press room.


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