Railgate? Team name trademarked before voting ended
Nov 16, 2012 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The RailRiders left the station before all the fans were on board.
Eight days before fan voting ended on a new team nickname, the company that owns the local Triple-A minor league baseball team applied for a trademark on the RailRiders nickname that team officials said won the voting contest.
Fan voting ended Aug. 24, but on Aug. 16, SWB Yankees LLC sought a trademark for the winning name, RailRiders, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the office's searchable online database. SWB Yankees owns the Moosic-based Triple-A New York Yankees affiliate. The same day, the company also sought to trademark the name Porcupines, according to the database. A porcupine ended up as part of the team logo.
SWB Yankees did not apply for a trademark for four other nicknames that officials said were finalists in the final phase of fan voting.
SWB Yankees president and general manager Rob Crain said the team did not ignore fan voting and pick the nickname itself. RailRiders and Porcupines were well ahead in fan voting and the team simply decided to get a head start on trademarking them, he said.
"Porcupines and RailRiders were ahead in the proverbial exit polling," Crain said. "The trademark stuff when we pulled it (applied for the trademark), that was just a placeholder because those two names were trending well --So we were like, 'You know what Why don't we pull these two and it'll be good and if someone makes a big comeback we can pull another one or ask for another one' --There's a cost associated with pulling all of them so we didn't pull all of them."
Looking back, he said, he could have waited until fan voting was complete.
"In hindsight, I could have done one of two things -- not pulled any of them or I could have pulled all of them before the team name voting ended. I guess you could say not pulling them (all) was a mistake, but I can guarantee and swear on high heaven that what we did is accurate," he said. "I'm not here to dupe anybody. We're just an honest baseball team and really here for the good of the community."
SWB Yankees officials announced the new name to great fanfare and a ballroom full of fans Wednesday at Genetti Manor in Dickson City.
Crain said Wednesday the new name honored the area's rich baseball history, recalling the Laurel Line trolley that ran between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and Scranton's status as having the first commercially successful electric streetcar line.
"My dad always told me that you can't go forward unless you know the past," Crain said. "To rekindle the past in a new, modern way was very important to us. When we were rebranding the club, we wanted to make sure that we touched our roots."
Crain said the name RailRiders won easily after first-place votes were tallied, although Porcupines appeared on the most number of ballots.
"I think we picked the best name out of the whole group," New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Team officials announced in June they would take suggestions on a new nickname. On Aug. 10, they announced they narrowed a list of 2,700 entries to six -- Black Diamond Bears, Blast, Fireflies, Porcupines, RailRiders and Trolley Frogs.
They let fans vote online or by paper ballot.
"We had some very creative ones," Crain said when the finalists were announced. "We think these six names tie into the community the best, and they also have great extension. What I mean by that is, are the names good with kids clubs, are they good for mascots, are they good for merchandise. We're anxious to hear what the community has to say."
Lackawanna County Commissioners Corey O'Brien and Jim Wansacz said they had nothing to do with the name selection, but do not believe the fans were duped.
"I'm happy with the name selection, and the public had an opportunity to participate in that," O'Brien said.
"They gave the fans a say," Wansacz said.
Michael R. Sisak, staff writer, contributed to this story.
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