UPDATE: Many upset over Kinston Baseball choices for team name

KINSTON, NC (WITN) - The question on many minds, "Why Down East?"

People have taken to social media to express their disdain for the five options for names for the new baseball team coming to Kinston, and people are particularly unhappy that the Rangers chose to precede each name with 'Down East.'

"We don't live down east, you know, to me down east is the area from Beaufort down to Cedar Island, that's what they call down east," explains Paul Mixner, the manager of Hawk's Nest Café in downtown Kinston.

When the top five names were announced, the general manager did acknowledge the 'Down East' part of the name and says that has been chosen to precede the team's nickname to represent all of the fans who will root for the team from all over eastern North Carolina, not just Kinston.

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy posted on Facebook Thursday asking for feedback and has been blown away by the hundreds of comments he got.

"It's fun, it's good to see the spirit of the community alive and well, and it certainly is great to see the continuous feedback," the mayor says. "My phone continues to ring with notifications 24 hours later, and so I think this community has really rallied behind wanting to see this stadium full of people and some great ball being played here."

While many people are commenting that they aren't happy with the name, some also understand that the team is aiming for a broader fan base.

"I understand why they don't want to put Kinston, because Kinston and Lenoir County will not support it by itself," says Kemp Bennett who has been a patron at Grainger Stadium since 1964.

Still, ideas of bringing back the Kinston Eagles name or Grainger Rangers seem to be very popular online.

Mayor Murphy also says it is entirely up to the Rangers what they name their team, even though the city does own the stadium.

He says owning the facility doesn't give naming rights and that's true in many different kinds of businesses, outside of sports.

Voting for the team name continues online through September 29 and you can find the link to vote along with more details on the meaning behind each top five name ideas on the upper right side of this page.

PREVIOUS STORY:

The Down East HamHawks? How about them Down East Hogzillas?

Those are just two of the finalist names for the new minor league baseball team in Kinston.

The Texas Rangers announced the five names this afternoon, and now want fans to vote for their favorite.

The Rangers announced last month that they were bringing professional baseball back to Kinston after a five year lapse. Games will begin next year at Grainger Stadium.

In addition, they announced that the official franchise name will be Down East, reflecting the regional market for the new team.

"While the new team will call the great City of Kinston home, there are so many people from neighboring areas that will be part of the new family of fans," said team General Manager Wade Howell. "To honor the geographic diversity of the fans, and to give a nod to the many vibrant areas the team will serve, we'll precede the new team nickname with the phrase "Down East."

The five finalists are:

Down East Eagles - A nod to baseball history in the Eastern part of the state, the Eagles were the first pro team to play at Historic Grainger Stadium.

Down East HamHawks - As one of the country's biggest pork producers, there's no questioning the importance of the mighty pig in North Carolina. But, hogs are just a fraction of what the state is known for - this is also the birthplace of aviation. This team name is a play on words paying homage to some of the state's most notable contributions.

Down East Hogzillas - Whole hog BBQ is part of the very fabric that makes Eastern North Carolina a colorful place. Hogzilla is a mighty and powerful team ready to bring home the bacon, and the wins, for fans.

Down East Shaggers - The Carolina Shag is a partner dance that will leave your toes tapping. Watch for members of this team to shag balls on the field and maybe even invite you to dance at the ballpark.

Down East Wood Ducks - Also known as "woodies", these colorful local waterfowl and a favorite among local hunters and boast some of the sharpest claws among all ducks. Less than 24 hours after hatching, these gutsy ducklings make a long and unassisted jump out of their nest high above the ground. Look for this team to make equally plucky plays on the field.

Voting continues through September 29 at 5:00 p.m. and the team hopes to announce its new nickname by early October.


Previous Story

Kinston Baseball has received over 1300 name submissions for the new minor league team, and they need your help in choosing the winner.

To honor the geographic diversity of the fans, and to give a nod to the many vibrant areas the team will serve, Kinston baseball says the new team nickname begins with the phrase "Down East".

The Top 5 submissions include:
Down East Eagles
Down East HamHawks
Down East Hogzillas
Down East Shaggers
Down East Wood Ducks

The contest winner will receive two 2017 season tickets, an official team jersey and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch during the season.

Voting is open through the end of September.

To vote for your favorite, please visit : www.KinstonBaseball.com under the "Name the Team" tab.



Previous Story:
The cheers went up this afternoon as one city prepares to welcome back baseball.

The Texas Rangers and the City of Kinston hosted a free public event at noon Thursday at historic Grainger Stadium, celebrating the new team.

Hundreds of people joined representatives from the Texas Rangers, city officials and Governor Pat McCrory to celebrate pro baseball's return after a five year hiatus.

The Rangers announced Monday that they've entered into a 12-year agreement for a new Class-A team.

"It was an opportunity we couldn't pass up and this community is so excited about baseball, we're very very happy to have our players and staff here in Kinston NC," said Mike Daly with the Texas Rangers.

The city lost its minor league team back in 2011 when the Kinston Indians moved to Zebulon.

This new team is one of two teams joining the Carolina League for the upcoming season.

Kinston plans to invest $1.623 million for improvements to the historic stadium.


Previous Story

Get ready to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," because professional baseball is returning to an Eastern Carolina city after a five year lapse.

The Texas Rangers announced Monday that they've entered into a 12-year agreement to put a new Class-A team at Grainger Stadium in Kinston.

"I believe you got the right team in place here in Kinston with the right organization in the Texas Rangers that can make this a successful franchise, one that will be here a lot longer than the 12 years they've committed to," Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy says.

The city lost its minor league team in 2011 when the Kinston Indians moved to Zebulon.

The new team will be one of two joining the Carolina League for the 2017 season that starts in April. It's one of the reasons Kinston City Manager Tony Sears says helped attract the team to Eastern Carolina in the first place.

"The Carolina League is the premier Single-A minor league baseball affiliate," Sears says. "Being in their footprint really helped so we were able to work out a really good deal and though it wasn't easy getting a team here, it was helped by being the Carolina League."

The agreement is subject to approval by Minor League Baseball and the review of Major League Baseball.

The Rangers are also planning a multi-year renovation project for the 4,100-seat stadium with home and visiting clubhouse, weight room, and concession stand expansion scheduled to be completed for the 2017 season.

Sears says as part of the deal with the Rangers, the City of Kinston is also investing $1.625 million in the stadium. Renovations will include updating the locker rooms and dugouts.

The franchise will formally be Rangers Kinston LLC with the Texas Rangers having a controlling interest. Cam McRae, former majority owner of the Kinston Indians, will also be a limited partner in the group.

Not only does the team have a new home, but it's also looking for a new name! Texas Rangers officials told Murphy and Sears they want the community to be involved. Submit your best ideas online at www.KinstonBaseball.com The contest winner will receive two 2017 season tickets, an official team jersey and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch during the season.

The Rangers and the City of Kinston are hosting a free public event at noon on Thursday, August 25 at historic Grainger Stadium to celebrate the new team. Officials say there will be free hot dogs and soda.


Previous Story

After a five year lapse, Kinston is getting back into the professional ballgame.

The Texas Rangers announced today that they've entered into an agreement to put a new Class-A team at Grainger Stadium.

The city lost its minor league team in 2011 when the Kinston Indians moved to Zebulon.

The new team will be one of two joining the Carolina League for the 2017 season. The agreement is subject to approval by Minor League Baseball and the review of Major League Baseball.

“Baseball has been synonymous with Kinston for many decades,” said Mayor BJ Murphy.” We are very grateful to the Texas Rangers organization for bringing professional baseball back home to Historic Grainger Stadium where folks from all over eastern NC will enjoy America's favorite pastime once again.”

The franchise will formally be Rangers Kinston LLC with the Texas Rangers having a controlling interest. Cam McRae, former majority owner of the Kinston Indians, will also be a limited partner in the group.

The Rangers are also planning a multi-year renovation project for the 4,100-seat stadium with home and visiting clubhouse, weight room, and concession stand expansion scheduled to be completed for the 2017 season.