Serious Pensacola Blue Wahoos fans are familiar with all nine of the other teams in the Southern League, but they’ll notice something a little different next season.
Following the maritime theme established by the Wahoos and the Biloxi Shuckers, the team formerly known as the Jacksonville Suns has announced that it’s changing its name to the Jumbo Shrimp.
The Miami Marlins’ AA affiliate unveiled its new identity Wednesday at an event at Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Team officials said the new Jumbo Shrimp name celebrates Jacksonville as a “big small town,” with the tenacious-looking shrimp embodying the city’s “determination and resilience.”
“This exciting announcement turns the page on wonderful time in Jacksonville’s baseball history that will never be forgotten and reaffirms our commitment to the First Coast. We understand the rich tradition of this region and wanted to embrace it in a way only Minor League Baseball can,” said Jumbo Shrimp General Manager Harold Craw. “The Jumbo Shrimp brand is built directly from the Jacksonville’s community heritage and allows us to integrate and bring to life what we are about… affordable, family, fun.”
Wednesday’s announcement is by far the biggest change made so far by new owner Ken Babby, a former newspaper executive who purchased the Suns in 2015. In recent years, off-the-wall team nicknames have become more and more common in minor league baseball, with teams like the Montgomery Biscuits, Albuquerque Isotopes, Wichita Wingnuts. After Babby bought the Akron, Ohio Aeros in 2013, he similarly renamed that team the Akron RubberDucks.
Not everyone is embracing the new Jumbo Shrimp name, however. Jacksonville’s minor league baseball team had been known as the Suns for 48 of the past 54 years, dating back to 1962. A fan petition opposing the change had already obtained more than 5,300 supporters by Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Wahoos are scheduled to host the Jumbo Shrimp at Fetterman Field for the first time on Monday, April 17, 2017.