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Sports


Akron Aeros become the Rubber Ducks
A nod to the city's history and an aquatic fit with Canal Park stadium.
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
(L to R) Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, team owner Ken Babby, team GM Jim Pfander.
Courtesy of MARK URYCKI
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In The Region:

Akron’s Minor League baseball team is changing its name – again. New owner Ken Babby took over the double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians one year ago today. The new name is tied to Akron’s history with rubber and toys.

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The Minor League franchise suffered some embarrassment when it moved from Canton to downtown Akron in 1997 and then-owner Mike Agganis announced he would call the team the Blast, with a mascot named Kaboom.

It might have flown had he not talked about opening a small museum in the stadium dedicated to Akron astronaut Judy Resnik. She died in the explosion of the space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

After reporters pointed that out, the team quickly renamed the team the Aeros.  

Canal rats, rubber ducks and cats
Now a new owner, Ken Babby, has come in, making new investments in Canal Park and he’s renaming the team the Akron Rubber Ducks. The team’s red cat mascot Orbit, will remain.

"We are not turning our backs on the Aeros brand. We love the great history of that brand over the last 17 years. You'll still see Orbit at games. That's a really important part of it. This is an evolution for our franchise.”   

The new name harkens back not only to the city’s tire industry but its toy history. The world’s first rubber ducks were made in Akron.  The name was actually suggested a few years ago by fans. 

“Some of the names we were looking at were Tire Jacks," says team General Manager Jim Pfander. "And we were looking at a rabbit mascot. Canal Rats was another name that had been thrown out there before in some previous contests.  We also looked at Vulcans.” 

The team logo includes tire treads and an angry rubber duck. The new team colors are (tire) black and yellow and blue and orange. New uniforms will be unveiled next month. 

Listener Comments:

I heard your broadcast of this story on my way to work. When I discussed it with my co-workers later, they were quite fascinated with the history of the previous names and the origin of the new one. I found it even more fascinating that when I went online to verify the report, your station was the only one that had done the research to make this story interesting. The other reports from CBS, Cleveland Online and FOX8 simply emphasized the dislike of the name by Akron residents and couldn't even verify when or how they came up with the name. Thank you NPR and WKSU for a thorough and informative report… as pleasantly expected.


Posted by: Justin Foster (Diamond) on October 30, 2013 3:10AM
the name just sucks


Posted by: Anonymous on October 29, 2013 11:10AM
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