Over the last several months, the Cleveland Indians’ High-A Lynchburg affiliate has been in the process of determining a new nickname to use for the coming years to replace the existing name, “Hillcats”. After taking fans’ suggestions and weeding the results down to six finalists, the franchise has its moniker.
More than 3,000 votes were cast over the course of the voting period and Hillcats came out on top of the online poll. The Hillcats name dominated the numbers of its five competing candidates, as its vote total exceeded that of all others combined.
Lynchburg began its “Name the Team Contest” in June, allowing fan submissions to be provided over the span of two weeks. During the second week of July, fans were able to vote on the six finalists, selected by a committee, to determine the team’s name moving forward.
The other five finalists included the Derechos, the Doves, the Lamb Chops, the Love Apples, and the River Runners.
“As I said before, we are not surprised in the least by the passion and loyalty of our Lynchburg baseball fans,” said Team President Chris Jones through a press release announcing the winning name. “This was an opportunity to see if the name Hillcats resonated with the fans, look at other options, and leave it up to our dedicated supporters to decide the identity of the team in 2017. We are pleased that Hillcats is a name that Lynchburg fans support so strongly, and we are looking forward to remaining the Lynchburg Hillcats.”
The nickname Hillcats was attached to the club in 1995, when the team transferred from an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox to the Pittsburgh Pirates. From 1966 to 1994, the Lynchburg franchise took its name from its parent club, which included the White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Mets, and Red Sox in that span.
The coming year will be the Hillcats’ 23rd season with the name and will be its 52nd season of Carolina League play.
“Lynchburg has a rich baseball history, going all the way back to 1886 when the city fielded its first professional team,” said Jones in the press release. “After 21 seasons, the Hillcats name has become a big part of that history and tradition. Now that the fans have spoken, we are going to examine how we can show people beyond Lynchburg what this franchise is all about. There may be some opportunities to freshen up the logo and some branding after 21 years, but no matter what, Hillcats will be at the core of everything we do moving forward.”