JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville's 50-year-old AA baseball team will no longer be known as the Jacksonville Suns. With great fanfare Wednesday morning, the team's new owner announced they are now the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
Owner Ken Babby, general manager Harold Craw and broadcaster Roger Hoover announced the change at a gathering of city leaders and others at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.
“Fun minor league team names is something we're seeing all across minor league baseball," Hoover said.
The Suns re-signed their player development contract with the Miami Marlins during the offseason.
Craw described the team's new logos and team colors of American red and St. Johns navy, highlighting the city's river. One of the logos shows a Jumbo Shrimp pushing his way out of a pot.
“You can see the resilient shrimp, kind of like our resilient tough community that we have here, jumping out of the pot with a play on the shrimp boil that we have here,” Craw said. “Jacksonville is a true melting pot of different types of people which also makes us special and unique is the same time.”
Babby said the team has been working toward the change for some time.
“We are so proud for this moment, but we're even more proud to turn the calendar to spring when our fans will have even more to cheer about as the Jumbo Shrimp," Babby said.
Babby purchased the Suns last year as his second minor-league team. His first, in Akron, Ohio, he renamed the Rubber Ducks after he took control.
Initial fan reaction to the Jumbo Shrimp nickname was overwhelmingly negative.
"This is a mockery of a long-standing Jacksonville institution. What an embarrassment," - Stephen M. Collins
"Absolutely retarded. Thanks for making our baseball team the laughing stock of baseball." - Paul Bloom
"Looks like someone made a bad bet and now the whole city must deal with the embarrassment," - Robert Jaxon
A Change.org petition has already been posted about the name.