Nuts on the Flying Squirrels


I love Richmond, Va. Really I do. Last weekend’s Richmond Folk Festival just reinforced my love for the city that much more.

But sometimes this city’s hang-ups just drive me nuts.

I use the word nuts on purpose. You see, a Class AA minor league baseball team recently moved to Richmond (don’t get me started on how the city lost the AAA Richmond Braves to Gwinnett, Ga.) and the new team’s name is the Flying Squirrels.

Yes, the Flying Squirrels. That was the winner among the other finalists: Rhinos, Flatheads, Hambones, Rock Hoppers and Hush Puppies. That was the best the new ownership team could do after having a contest in which fans could submit names. Oh, and CNBC submitted the name Hush Puppies. I guess they felt that would be an improvement on the others.

Flying Squirrels is a stupid enough name, but here’s what really fluffs my tail. Team owners withdrew Hambones (a reference to Virginia hams) after complaints that the name is offensive to African-Americans. As the local newspaper described it, Hambones is a “foot-stomping, thigh-slapping dance brought here by enslaved West Africans and later performed at minstrel shows.” I’m sure that’s the first thing that pops into the average white person’s mind when Hambones is mentioned. Just another way to keep black folks down.

And as if that was not enough, a few days later came complaints that Flatheads is offensive to Native Americans. The intent was to honor a type of fish found in Richmond’s James River, but it seems there is a Native American reservation in Montana called Flat Head. Some Richmond area Native Americans could foresee a mascot dressed in ceremonial regalia rather than a mascot dressed as a fish.

This is one of Richmond’s worst traits. It can’t get past the ultra-sensitive feelings worn on too many sleeves. Everything has racial undertones. Everything is suspected to be a slap against the heritage of one group or another. Distrust reigns. And we get a baseball team named the Flying Squirrels.

Well, I’m thinking of protesting the selection of Flying Squirrels as the team’s name. It’s offensive to me because I hate squirrels. Squirrels are simply rats with good PR. Besides, I believe my ancestors hunted squirrels. To desecrate the name of game hunted by my ancestors is to disgrace my heritage.

Yeah. Come to think of it, maybe this city deserves a minor league team named the Flying Squirrels.

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6 Responses

  1. Until this City proves otherwise, your last sentence hits the nail on the head.

  2. Wow, you sound pretty bent out of shape. Is it just me, or aren’t minor league teams supposed to have goofy/crazy names? I can think of dozens that are starnger than the Flying Squirrels. What happened to good natured fun? Maybe Richmond is just too stodgy. I guess Richmonders just don’t “get” minor league baseball.

    Just for arguments sake, let’s address the other possibile names:

    (1) Hambones – Richmond isn’t known for ham, Smithfield is

    (2) Hush Puppies – What does that have to do with Richmond?

    (3) Rhinos – Richmond has zero, count ’em, zero, rhinos.

    (4) Rock Hoppers – That’s supposed to be exciting?

    (5) Flat Heads – Why not the Yellow Cats or Shovel Heads?

    (6) Flying Squirrels – They’re native to Richmond. Maymont has plenty. They’re nocturnal and most of the games will be played at night. Not to mention think of the merchandising! I can see a Rocky and Bullwinkle tie-in already.

    Yeah, I’d say they made a good choice. The last thing you want in a minor league baseball team is a “traditional” and “classy” name. Just do some research and you’ll discover that minor league teams are typically given goofy/crazy names.

    • I’m for off-the-wall names. I’m just for good off-the-wall names. But my main point is that Richmond needs to get over our hypersensitivity. Everything is not always about race, as some would have us believe. Sometimes a Hambone is just a Hambone.

  3. The Richmond Ambivalents would have been far more appropriate. We want to have a hockey/baseball/basketball/indoor football team, yet we don’t bother to show up for the games until the opportunity is taken from us.

  4. I dont care for any of the names, but at least hush puppies is Southern. I think Richmond Rebels sounds like a good name. Too bad it wouldn’t go over today. People are just too fussy about things. Everything is offensive.

  5. “Squirrels are simply rats with good PR.” That’s my favorite thing I’ve read all day.

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