Rochester Red Wings throw back to 1879 as Hop Bitters

Written By:  •  Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Another minor league team unveiled a temporary, alcohol-based identity this week, but this one has quite a bit of history behind it. The Rochester Red Wings, Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will play a game as the Rochester Hop Bitters May 26.

The nickname is the throw-backiest of throw-backs, recalling the 1879-1880 Rochester Hop Bitters of the National Association. The team was called the Hop Bitters as an homage to a 19th-century elixir created by John D. Doyle. The medical beverage was purchased by Asa T. Soule in 1872, who increased the alcohol content, named it hop bitters, and went on to become wildly rich with the product. He used some of his income to purchase an Albany-based team and move it Rochester.

The game will commemorate aspects of the early days of “base ball,” including batter introductions being made from atop a dugout instead of over a PA, demonstrations of the 19th-century version of the game by historical reenactors, and spelling base ball with two words. There will also be a specialty beer brewed by Genesee, a Rochester-area company celebrating its 140th anniversary this year.

Game-worn, autographed jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the Red Wings Community Foundation.

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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, 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.