The Evolution of Dinosaurs in Utah: The Story Behind the Ogden Raptors

Written By:  •  Saturday, March 19, 2016

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The Ogden Raptors, advanced rookie level affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, were never meant to be. In 1993, Dave Baggott, who describes himself as the founder, president, owner, and janitor of the team, went to the mayor of Ogden, Utah, with the idea of bringing a minor league team to town, and the mayor was quick to respond.

“He said, ‘That’s great, but it has to be called the Trappers,'” Baggott said.

bmThe Trappers were a popular team, owned in part by noted baseball executive Bill Murray, that played about 40 miles to the south in Salt Lake City in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The idea was that adopting that nickname would give the new Ogden team a head start in the marketing department.

“We had every intention of calling it the Ogden Trappers, until we did a name-the-team contest with the local newspaper,” Baggott said. “We had no intention of changing the name, but it’s a good way of getting some free publicity and get off the snide in getting some marketing done.”

If they had gone with the popular vote, the team in Ogden would definitely have been called the Trappers, but something funny happened along the way. A 10-year-old girl named Tracy submitted the name Raptors to the contest.

“We did a little research and obviously the popularity of the Jurassic Park movies had just hit the country,” Baggott said. “We have a dinosaur park right here in Ogden, and Utah is world-renowned for its archaeological finds of dinosaur fossils, and I thought, this would be a great way to give ourselves our own identity instead of playing off of somebody else’s.”

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The rest, as it were, is prehistoric history. Tracy is 34 years old now, and has taken full advantage of her prize of lifetime season tickets. According to Baggott, she’s never missed a game.

“Now she’s got a husband and two kids that come to the game, too,” Baggott said. “She gets hers for free and she pays for the others, and it works out.”

The team’s original logo, which was created in house in 1993, is modeled after a utahraptor found at the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden. The utahraptor, Baggott is quick to point out, is quite a bit larger than the fearsome velociraptors found in the Jurassic Park movies.

The team’s colors, which were determined through informal market research, are shared with a Major League club that the team has never had a relationship with.

“Our original concept colors from day one were basically the same as the Seattle Mariners,” Baggott said. “The surveys we did before we chose our team colors—we did surveys of men and women—and the majority of the folks voted for the color scheme that was basically the Seattle Mariners at the time.”

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On the last day of the 2015 season, the Raptors unveiled a new look for the first time since their founding. The updated identity features a leaner, sleaker Oggie the raptor.

“We wanted to change the look of the logo, but we didn’t want to change the identity of the logo,” Baggott said. “After 22 years, we just gave him a makeover. So now, instead of posing upright, he’s on the move and he’s heading somewhere. The kids like to think he’s on the hunt.”

thumbThe new logo set, designed by Jeremy Maxwell of New Era, includes a primary mark featuring an updated rendering of the raptor itself, as well as cap logos that feature the letter O encircling Oggie and Oggie’s claw.

With more than two decades of hindsight in his back pocket, Baggott sees that the decision to forego the name Trappers in favor of Raptors was a good one.

“It turned out to be the best thing we ever did,” he said. “So far, of the 160 minor league baseball teams nationwide, other than ours, there is no other dinosaur-themed team, so hopefully we have a little bit of a niche with the kids’ market in regards to wanting to wear something dinosaur related.”

Of course, as with all successful minor league baseball logos, the team’s brand has appeal beyond the sport. The Jurassic Park movies are back in favor, and dinosaurs are on the forefront of the popular imagination again. (To wit: You know those wacky inflatable T-Rex costumes you see everywhere these days? The Raptors will have four people wearing those to drag the infield after the sixth inning next season.)

Most importantly, if it’s an attractive logo featuring popular subject matter, it’s going to be well received.

As Baggott explains, “You don’t have to be a baseball fan to have a dinosaur on your hat.”

 



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Paul Caputo

Paul Caputo is a grown man who collects plastic ice cream helmet sundaes from minor league baseball stadiums because he likes logos that much. He is the author of the first book published by SportsLogos.net, The Story Behind the Nickname: The Origins of 100 Classic, Contemporary, and Wacky Minor League Baseball Team Names. He can be found on Twitter at @Count2Baseball and he maintains the Countdown to Spring Training on Facebook. Paul is a Philadelphia sports fan, but he's not so bad.