The Aberdeen IronBirds, short-season Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, will play every Sunday home game in 2018 as the Star-Spangled Banners. The name change is a way “to honor the military and Maryland as the birthplace of the national anthem,” the team said.
The IronBirds’ permanent nickname is a reference to both team owner Cal Ripken and the nearby Aberdeen Proving Grounds military base, so the military homage in the new temporary nickname is not a substantial departure in that regard. The Star-Spangled Banners nickname is the second Maryland-based Orioles affiliate to recognize the US National Anthem, with the High-A Frederick Keys being named for Francis Scott Key, who wrote the poem that would later be set to the tune that became the song.
The new identity, which in addition to Sunday home games will be worn on Military Appreciation Night August 9, debuts today in a game against the Hudson Valley Renegades. At the end of the season, the uniforms will be auctioned off to benefit TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
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.