The Burlington Sock Puppets is not the only baseball team operating with an unusual identity

By Eric Todisco
February 02, 2021 01:56 PM
Burlington Sock Puppets
Credit: Burlington Sock Puppets

A baseball team based in Burlington, North Carolina, has rebranded with a unique new name.

On Monday, Burlington's baseball club — formerly known as the Burlington Royals as part of Minor League Baseball — announced in a YouTube video that team will now be called the Burlington Sock Puppets as part of the revamped Appalachian League. The Appalachian League is a collegiate summer baseball league.

The organization's new identity, created by Dan Simon of Studio Simon, pays homage to the rich textile tradition of the local area, according to a press release from the MLB.

"As we explored all possible identities for the team and engaged locally with so many different people, the stories and responses revolved around the uniqueness of what makes Burlington so special — and ultimately it's the people," said Ryan Keur, owner and president of the club. "The people here in Burlington, both those new to the area and those that have been here for so long have this desire to be great. It is a community that works well together and has transitioned from industry to industry over the past one hundred years."

The new team colors will be red, white and blue, with logos featuring throwback athletic socks.

The team's rebranding began back in September, when the MLB and USA Baseball announced that the rookie-level Appalachian League would become reorganized for rising college freshmen and sophomores, thus ending the team's affiliation with the Kansas City Royals, according to the Times-News.

For the next five months, the team received over 1,200 name suggestions from the local community, club general manager Anderson Rathbun told the outlet.

"We couldn't believe the community support," Rathbun said. "From the uncertainty of 2019 to entering the new league and to saying that we're rebranding, the community support we've been shown has absolutely been tremendous."

Burlington Sock Puppets
Burlington Sock Puppets
| Credit: Burlington Sock Puppets

Burlington is not the first baseball team to have an unusual identity. The Rocket City Trash Pandas are part of the MiLB's Southern League; the Savannah Bananas are in the Coastal Plain League; and the Richmond Flying Squirrels are part of the MiLB's Eastern League — all head-scratching names.

Regardless of what people make of Burlington's new identity, Rathbun told the Times-News he wants the team and their fans to embrace their uniqueness.

"So I think that's one of our biggest goals is to show people that yeah, this is unique and this is a different brand," Rathbun said, "but it's going to be a different and unique atmosphere when you walk through those gates here come June 5."

The Sock Puppets will play the first game of their season on June 5, at Burlington Athletics Stadium.