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Book Review: Root for the Home Team, Tim Hagerty

Ever wonder where some of those minor league team names came from? Wonder no more.

Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball's Most Off-the-Wall Team Names and the Stories Behind Them is a great overview of some of the more unusual and quirky minor league team names throughout history. It covers both affiliated and independent teams, with a good mix of the current and the classics of the past. Author Tim Hagerty was, as of 2012, a radio broadcaster for the AAA Tucson Padres (yes, one of the few teams remaining with the decidedly non-quirky name of the parent club) and is a long-time minor league broadcaster--he's seen a lot of these teams come through.

The book is organized by state and then alphabetically by city. A lot of the names, especially the older ones, are about local history and industry. A few of these names survive in major league sports, like the Packers and the Brewers, but there were a lot more back in the early 20th century. One of the few teams from Wisconsin mentioned in the book is the defunct Wisconsin-Illinois League Appleton Papermakers. The newer names of the Appleton-area teams, not mentioned in the books, also describe things found in the area (the Fox Valley; snakes) but aren't quite as colorful as Papermakers.

Getting into the late 20th and 21st century, we see the hand of Marketing on these names. A notable example was the Mudville Nine, formerly and currently known as the Stockton Ports. Supposedly "Casey at the Bat" was inspired by a team in Stockton. You'll find lots of other examples of the new naming and design in here, including the Montgomery Biscuits and their (in my opinion, creepy) anthropomorphic food logo.

The only Brewers affiliate covered in the book is the Nashville Sounds, another obvious industry-related name dating from the ancient days of...1978. There's quite a bit of history on the Midwest league, however, like the current TinCaps, Silver Hawks, LumberKings, Hot Rods, Lugnuts and Snappers, and the defunct Michigan Battle Cats--surprisingly, not directly an 1980s toy/cartoon reference!

If you're like me and wonder where on earth some of these team names come from when you're following whoever the Brewers affiliates are playing, you'll love this book.

(A review copy was provided by the publisher.)