Kinston’s new minor league baseball team puts nickname up to fan vote

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – After receiving more than 1,300 name submissions, the new Kinston minor league baseball team’s nickname has been narrowed down to five finalists.

The Texas Rangers announced the final nicknames of the new Carolina League team, as well as the official name of the franchise, Down East.

“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.

Fans can vote on the new name on the team’s website.

“We received a number of unique nicknames that embody the energetic spirit of eastern North Carolina,” Howell said. “Now, we are asking our fans to help us select our nickname which we will wear proudly beginning in April.”

The five finalists for the Down East club’s nickname 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 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 fabric of eastern North Carolina, and this name reflects the region’s passion for pork.

Down East Shaggers – The Carolina Shag is a partner dance, and the name suggests members of the team will shag balls on the field.

Down East Wood Ducks – Also known as “woodies”, these colorful local waterfowl are 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. The name implies an equally plucky team.

While the team will hold a vote, they will also consider regional relevance, marketability, the ability to trademark the name, and family fun as part of the final selection process.

Fan voting will continue through Thursday, September 29 at 5:00 p.m. The team hopes to announce its new nickname by early October.

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