01/16/2009 8:49 AM
Orleans Firebirds Join Chatham Anglers as New Names
in Cape League for 2009
ORLEANS, Mass. – There’ll be no Cardinals taking flight at Eldredge Park in Orleans this summer. The town’s entry in the Cape Cod Baseball League has officially changed its nickname to … drum roll, please … the Orleans Firebirds!
The Cardinals had been a part of the summer landscape for decades, but after the Cape League and its teams reached an agreement with Major League Baseball Properties which required any CCBL teams which shared their nicknames with MLB teams to use MLBP-licensed vendors for uniforms and souvenir merchandise bearing the nickname and/or logo, the Orleans organization decided to change its team’s name.
General Manager Sue Horton said the move allows Orleans to maintain its independence and its longstanding relationships with local vendors.
Orleans joins Chatham, now known as the Anglers, as the only two Cape League teams to change their names after the agreement with MLBP. The Bourne Braves, Harwich Mariners, Hyannis Mets and Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox elected to retain their nicknames for the coming season.
Orleans’ CCBL entry was known as the Orleans Athletic Club during the town team years from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s, when the CCBL became an NCAA-sanctioned summer collegiate league. In the late 1950s, the team took the name Cardinals, which had been used by Orleans High School until the school’s athletic teams became known as the Warriors after the formation of the Nauset Regional School District.
From 1946 to 1962, the OAC won seven Cape League crowns, and from 1963 until the present, the Cardinals won their division in the regular season in 1986, 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008, and were CCBL champions in 1986, 1993, 2003 and 2005. The 2008 Cardinals led the league’s East Division for most of the season and finished with the circuit’s best attendance.
GM Horton said discussions of the new nickname began last summer and the players became involved in the process. She said “Firebirds” was the suggestion of pitcher Brad Stillings (Kent State) and it became the consensus choice from the dozens of suggestions reviewed by the organization.
Rather than break completely from the tradition of the familiar red bird, Orleans opted for a transformation to the Firebird, which, research revealed, is found mainly in folklore and is said to possess magical traits of invincibility and regeneration. Baseball is replete with allusions to other "fire" concepts, such as a team or player “catching fire” or being “fired up,” “firing the ball” and describing hard-throwing pitchers as “fireballers.” The new name is also a tip of the cap to the team’s next-door neighbors and good friends and supporters, the Orleans Fire Department.
The new logo is modeled on a raptor (many of which are also indigenous to the area) rather than a songbird, and is the result of designs from graphic artist Tony Del Negro of South Orleans and the staff at Kaleidoscope Imprints of South Yarmouth, which has supplied the team with much of its souvenir merchandise and uniform needs for more than two decades. The primary team colors will remain red and white, with background and accents of black and gold so as to incorporate Nauset Regional High School’s colors.
GM Horton said the Orleans Athletic Association recently played Santa to five local not-for-profit organizations by donating some Cardinals children’s clothing just in time for Christmas. Because the terms of the MLBP agreement prohibited the sale of any non-licensed team merchandise after the Cape League season ended on Aug. 15, 2008, the team decided to use the remaining items to benefit some worthy organizations.
Sweatshirts, T-shirts and infants’ “onesies” were distributed to the Lower Cape Outreach Council and the Homeless Prevention Council of Orleans, and A Baby Center, Children’s Cove and the Salvation Army in Hyannis, Horton said.