Route 66 News

Joplin’s new baseball team is called the Blasters

The name for the new American Association professional baseball team in Joplin, Mo., will be the Blasters, with a logo that includes a reference to Route 66.

The club announced the nickname and logo Monday afternoon in Joplin. The logo contains a nod to the region’s lead-mining history and the town’s old Joplin Miners ballclub, with the mascot wearing a mining helmet. The Blasters name also refers to dynamite blasting as part of ore extraction.

A Route 66 shield is in the background, and the ownership group acknowledged before the announcement a reference to Route 66 was being considered.

Thw owners chose the name from residents’ suggestions. The Blasters name came from Joplin resident Cliff Mansley, reported the Joplin Globe. He received season tickets and a suite box.

Shawn Suarez, co-owner and general manager, said Blasters is a way to honor the area’s mining heritage in a fresh and new way. […]

“I know there’s a huge group of traditionalists,” Suarez said. “When we came in, there were two camps of people we would talk to. There was one who wanted the traditionalist way, and there was one who wanted a more modern approach. The thing we’re happy with the Blasters is we think this will satisfy with both camps. If we picked Miners, there’s one section. This way, both groups of people can be represented.”

Black and gold will be the team colors.

Locals greeted the Blasters name mostly with derision on Facebook. Many hoped to resurrect the Miners name, when Joplin hosted a Yankees affiliate during the 1940s and ’50s — and two future Hall-of-Famers in Mickey Mantle and Whitey Herzog. But it’s understandable the new ownership wanted to start with a clean slate.

However, in addition to its historical ties, the Blasters name carries excellent marketing possibilities (blasting home runs, having a blast at Joe Becker Stadium … you get the idea). It brings to mind six years ago a minor-league club in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania with a seemingly clumsy name of IronPigs (a reference to the region’s pig iron and steel production days). The team’s marketing department used the name in all sorts of clever ways, fans quickly embraced it, and Lehigh Valley went on to set minor-league attendance records.

The ownership group recently began multimillion-dollar renovations of historic Joe Becker Stadium, and the first pitch will be in May 2015.

Mansley made this observation:

“It’s time to have some fun in Joplin. … We’ve had enough of the heartache of the tornado. It’s time to move on and move up and trust that the good Lord has some new things for us. This is one of those new things that will be a lot of fun. We want to bring families together. We want to bring the community together, and this is a great way to do it.”


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