KINSTON, NC (WITN) - Big news for pro-baseball in the east. The Texas Rangers' minor league team will hit the field this spring at Kinston's historic Grainger Stadium. Now that the team has a new name, the excitement surrounding the upcoming season has only intensified.
There have been all kinds of reaction to the name Down East Wood Ducks. On social media, in particular, people have been vocal about not liking the Down East part of the title, but overall, the people who we talked to Wednesday after the announcement were excited about the name and baseball returning to Kinston after a six year dry spell.
"'Go Ducks, Go Ducks,' you know, and there's things you can do with kids and it would make an awesome costume," says Stephen Hill, the CEO and co-founder of Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston. "I mean, they can have a pool with ducks in it and, you know, kids draw something and win something. I mean, they can do a lot."
People were asked to choose their favorite name between five finalists and Down East Wood Ducks beat the likes of the Eagles, Hamhawks, Hogzillas, and Shaggers.
"Shooting ducks, going hunting, quacking a lot," that's what baseball fan Daniel Safley says he thinks about when he hears the new name.
"I don't know that really represents Kinston, but I'm sure we'll embrace it regardless," reacts another fan, RJ Smith.
Wood Ducks president, Joe Januszewski, is banking on that, addressing why they feel Down East should be a part of the name. "We totally appreciate the fact that there are going to be folks who claim Down East as their own and nobody wants to take anything away. For us, it's not about taking a tent away from people, it's about casting a much bigger tent and asking folks to come inside. Down East, what we found, it's a spirit. It's like a feeling and it's a way of life and I don't know how you can qualify that with a particular geographic location."
He says the name will help reflect the regional market of the new team and others are hoping that will also be good for local businesses.
"It took a lot out of the city when we lost the team five years ago, so it'll bring a lot of people from around the region back into the city," Hills says. "Now what we need is hotel rooms."
"Who doesn't like drinking a nice Mother Earth beer and watching some baseball," asks Safley. "I love it."
Januszewski says there was a little delay in announcing the name because of how much the city was affected by Hurricane Matthew.
The baseball team is hoping to have an even bigger announcement within the next 30 days or so.
You can find out more about the team by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.
It's official, Kinston's new baseball team will be called the Down East Wood Ducks.
The Texas Rangers announced the new name this afternoon.
People were asked to choose between five finalists, the Down East Eagles, Down East Hamhawks, Down East Hogzillas, Down East Shaggers or the Down East Wood Ducks.
“We received a lot of great input as we considered the nickname for the new ballclub,” commented Rangers Kinston LLC President Joe Januszewski. “The response from the fans in the region was overwhelming, and we thank them for their passion and support. We look forward to working with folks throughout the region to make the Down East Wood Ducks the best franchise in the Carolina League.”
Not everyone has been pleased with the Rangers' decision to use 'Down East' as a regional reference in the name. Many people complained that 'Down East' is actually the eastern section of Carteret County.
The team will start playing at Grainger Stadium in the spring, ending a six year dry spell for Minor League Baseball in Eastern Carolina.
The Kinston Indians were sold in 2011 and the team was moved to Zebulon.