Until now, it has been nameless. Greater Bangor Baseball was the best they could do.
But now Bangor Baseball is big, bad, and blue. As of Tuesday morning, Bangor’s new professional sports franchise will be known as the Bangor Blue Ox.
Before his English teachers get too upset, team president and general manager Dean Gyorgy wants them to know he decided not to use Blue Oxen, the grammatically correct name, for two reasons.
“We didn’t think it had quite the same ring. We thought it was kind of cumbersome. Blue Ox kind of tied in or had the same plural ring to it as the Boston Red Sox name,” said Gyorgy, a Maine native who graduated from Maranacook High School in Readfield in 1985.
After a weeklong team name contest in January, six weeks of sifting through more than 1,200 submissions, and narrowing more than 500 team name suggestions down to a final three, Gyorgy had his name.
“The Blue Ox was one that we had in mind fairly early. I mean with Paul Bunyan it’s sort of a natural tie-in to the area,” said Gyorgy. “But we weren’t sold on it. We were pleased to see that we got 16 people through the contest to submit that. That kind of cemented it in our minds.”
The winning name was suggested by 16 Mainers ranging in age from 8 to 61. One of them will have their name drawn live on Bangor radio station WZON (620 AM) Thursday morning. The winner will receive two season tickets and a $50 team gift certificate.
“My wife and I sat down one day and came up with eight or nine names,” said Keith Stover of Orrington, a finalist and the author of the “Rocket Roger” song played on radio during 1986. “I was kind of hoping for the Bangor Burn, and I liked the name Blues second.”
Robin Stover preferred Blue Ox.
The two other name entry finalists were River Drivers and Black Caps, referring to chickadees. Gyorgy said some more creative names they rejected because they would have been hard to illustrate were Lumber Barons, Penobsox, Wool Sox, and River Kings.
“The natural mascot name would have been a human-type character, but we really wanted a creature,” Gyorgy said.
“We thought about chickadees, bobcats, and beavers – traditional Maine animals, but the Blue Ox really jumped out at us as something that reflected the flavor of the area and sort of hits you in the back of your mind since everybody knows the story of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the blue ox.”
The logo was designed by the team’s ad agency: Marketing, Media, & Wellman. The New Era baseball cap company and Baseball America cartoonist Paul Trapp also drew up some designs.
Look for Babe, the team mascot, to be making the rounds in the local community as soon as April.
“We’ve already ordered a costume. He’s going to wear No. 3 – it’s Babe Ruth’s number,” said Gyorgy.
Now that the team name has been settled, Gyorgy can turn his attention to other pressing matters such as hiring the team’s manager and selling season tickets.
“We’re finalizing managerial candidates. We’re down to a handful of finalists and expect to make an announcement in two weeks.”
Gyorgy said the team has sold some season tickets and received a lot of inquiries about them already.
“We’ll form a priority list where people can call and get on it with a small deposit,” he said. “We hope to sell 500 to 700 season tickets.”
Gyorgy is also turning his attention toward reaching agreements with local radio and television stations to broadcast games.
“We’ve talked to some TV stations about that and I think there’s interest there. And it’s still our aim to have all 80 games on radio.”
George Hale, program director for WABI in Bangor (910 AM), said WABI would like to do the games.
“Yes, we’re definitely interested. We’re having extensive talks right now,” said Hale.
Bangor is the newest member of the 2-year-old Northeast Baseball League. The Blue Ox will play their home games at Mahaney Diamond in Orono and begin regular season play Saturday, June 1. They won’t play their first home game until Monday, June 10.