The Omaha Storm Chasers, Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, are the latest minor league baseball team to adopt a local food item as a temporary team name. For one game on June 9, the Storm Chasers will become the Omaha Runzas.
Runzas—which also go by the names bierock, kraut pirok, fleischkuche, or krautburger (which is what I know them as)—are basically pockets of dough filled with ground beef and sauerkraut. The history of the runza traces back to 19th-century Russia, but they were popularized in Germany and brought to the North American upper midwest by German immigrants.
The Storm Chasers’ temporary team colors come from the promotional night’s sponsor, a restaurant chain called Runza (whose website gives you the title “Home | Runza” in your browser window, which is likely unintentional, but feels very basebally).
Omaha is the latest to the fray in an increasingly long list of minor league teams to adopt local food items as promotional identities, a concept expertly introduced to the world by the Fresno “Tacos” Grizzlies all the way back in the olden MiLB days of 2015.
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.