The Florida Fire Frogs have ambition. First, they’re one of only a handful of minor league baseball teams named for an entire state. A few others spring to mind, like the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Arkansas Travelers, and Connecticut Tigers—and hey, the Carolina Mud Cats are named for two states—but they’re the exception rather than the rule.
When the team, formerly the beloved (by me, anyway) Brevard County Manatees, relocated this past offseason from Florida’s Atlantic Coast to Kissimmee, just south of Orlando, they needed a new way to identify their location. But there were some road blocks that those of us not from there might not be familiar with.
“In Florida, they have stigmas,” said Jason Klein, a partner in the firm Brandiose, which created the new look. “People from this county don’t go to that county. People from that county don’t go to this county. We wanted to be inclusive. We didn’t want there to be any barriers for people to attend the Fire Frogs game.”
The team’s president, Joe Harrington, put it a bit differently: “This is a big area, and our name signifies that we have the expectation of being big,” Harrington said, quoted on MiLB.com. “We want to be the community’s team, to bring more people to the table.”
When it came time to choose a new name and settle on a brand, the team looked even farther afield. The frog featured in the logo is a coquí, which is the common name for a handful of species of frogs native to somewhere not Florida. For details, we turn to noted minor league baseball chronicler Ben Hill:
“That the coquí frog is of Puerto Rican origin is no coincidence,” Hill said on MiLB.com, “as the greater Kissimmee area is home to a large percentage of people who are of Puerto Rico heritage.”
“There’s a very large Puerto Rican community that they’re embracing,” Klein said. “One of the symbols of Puerto Rico is the coquí frog. Part of it was, what if we incorporate a coquí frog? That allows us to connect to a degree with the Puerto Rican community. It also allows to reach the swamp area that the region is so known for.”
The Fire Frogs name was selected in a name-the-team contest, beating out other finalists Dragonflies, Mud Kickers, Rodeo Clowns, Sorcerers, and Toucans. One of the reasons the team went the way it did was to be unique.
“If you look at minor-league baseball teams and names and things like that, it is one of those ones that you don’t really see a lot of frogs as mascots,’’ said Fire Frogs President Joe Harrington, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. “We will do well here. Since I have been living a short time in Florida, I have seen a ton of them.’’
While the primary logo is a coquí, the suite of logos features variations on the frog theme. Klein credits the idea of a family of frogs (because going to a minor league baseball game is a family outing) to team owner David Freeman.
“He said, ‘Man, here’s a great idea,'” Klein said. “‘Why don’t we have a family? We can have a kid frog, a mother frog, we can have the crazy uncle frog.’ We thought David had a great idea.”
“[Brandiose partner] Casey [White] had done this joke sketch of bull frog—a frog with bull horns, because they’re known for the Kissimmee Rodeo,” Klein said. “Somehow it stuck. They were like, we really like this idea with the bull frog. It was mythical, so we kind of had this uncle who was this bull frog character—a frog with horns.”
Some of this Fire Frogs’ identity comes from the “Form Follows Function” files. For instance, the team’s colors of fire red, navel orange, and golden sun were somewhat predetermined.
“Like everything in minor league baseball, you have to think economically. How are we going to make this fit in this ballpark?” Klein said. “A lot of the colors that we chose came from the colors that already existed in the ballpark. So the ballpark looks like it was colored to match the team identity, when the opposite is true.”
The roundel primary logo, while something of a trend anyway, also had its origins in the team’s home in Osceola County Stadium, spring training home to Houston Astros from 1984 to 2016 (not to mention the awesomely named Kissimmee Cobras from 1995 to 2000).
“There were these giant metal round Astros logos throughout the entire park,” Klein said. “We knew that it was going to be really expensive to take those logos off and put Fire Frogs logos up in their place. So one of the tricks that we did was we made sure that the primary logo was a roundel so that they could just take one circle logo and cover it up with another circular logo.”
The Florida Fire Frogs are not the wackiest or most outrageous nickname in the minors. Heck, they might not be in the top five wackiest nicknames to debut this season. But they’ve got a lot going for them. For the moment, they’re the only Braves farm team not nicknamed the Braves (though Triple-A Gwinnett is rebranding for next season). They have a brand that’s meaningful to the area and their target audience, plus it walks the line between being minor league fun and also a fierce animal. With the alliteration in the name, a good color scheme, and fun logo, this one works for me—though I still miss the Manatees.