Truly Trippy: The Story Behind the Great Falls Voyagers

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In 1950, two alien space crafts gliding over western Montana were caught on film by Nicholas Mariana, the general manager of a minor league baseball team called the Great Falls Electrics. The footage is conclusive evidence of the fact that aliens have visited us, even though the government has been placating us with half-truths and platitudes for decades to try to convince us otherwise.

“If anybody watches those crazy UFO shows on HBO, you’ve probably seen footage that was taken by the general manager here in the ’50s with a handheld camera of a supposed UFO flying over centerfield,” said Scott Reasoner, general manager of Great Falls’ current minor league team. “It’s considered one of the best UFO sightings of all time.”

One of the best of all time. I mean, LOOK AT IT:

And check it out, if you use SportsLogos.net’s proprietary UFO image-enhancement technology, developed by site founder Chris Creamer on his Texas Instruments TI-99/4A in 1997, you get a clearer image of those shimmery orbs:

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The so-called Mariana UFO Incident is the most famous in Montana’s distinguished UFO-sighting history, but it’s only one of thousands of reports that the government has documented in a thing called Project Blue Book. “If you talk to residents, one out of 10 will tell you that they’ve seen a sighting or some unusual movement in the skies at night,” Reasoner said. “So it’s definitely part of the community.”

Before the 2008 season, the team that had been the Great Falls Giants, Great Falls Dodgers, and Great Falls White Sox in its almost 40 years in existence, made the long-overdue decision to adopt their own unique identity instead of that of their parent club. When it came time to choose a name, they focused on that important aspect of their local community.

“Great Falls is considered a hot spot for UFO-type sightings and activity here in the country,” Reasoner said. (And in case there are any doubters, “I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that we have a large Air Force base about 15 blocks from the ballpark.”)

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-falbrd07-22-2013tribune1a00120130721img2orbit11lc4mi7kll2602One of the most famous UFO sightings ever was filmed from a ballpark right there in their hometown by a general manager of the local team. It seems that there was hardly any choice at all that the local team would pay homage to the preponderance of extraterrestrial visits with an alien-themed identity.

The Great Falls Voyagers and their mascot Orbit—”the little alien who came to visit us and loved baseball so much he decided to stay,” according to Reasoner—debuted in 2008. The identity, designed by Studio Simon, has received a fair amount of attention in the press and from fans. “We’ve been voted a couple times one of the best hats in minor league baseball,” Reasoner said, “so you know the logos, the branding, when they put that all together, they did a really great job.”

Of course, by the time the Voyagers came along, they were not the only alien in town. There was a team in Las Vegas named for a secret government facility where alien visitors are stored and/or questioned on the physics of intergalactic travel.

“Obviously there’s been teams like the 51s that had already been there and kind of done that with the theme,” Reasoner said. So Great Falls needed another angle that made them distinct.

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It just so happens that Great Falls is home to another kind of voyager. Lewis and Clark traveled through Montana, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition included “voyageurs”—French-Canadian explorers and traders—who transported supplies for the expedition. And Great Falls is home to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, one of the biggest Lewis and Clark museums out there.

“We’re in kind of the heart of Lewis and Clark country here,” Reasoner said. “So any time we can do anything with the voyaging theme like that, it goes over well with the people in the community, because there’s a lot of history tied in with that.”

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Via the Voyagers on Facebook

For a wacky minor league logo to really work, it has to tap into something meaningful at the core of the local community—it’s not enough just to be wacky for the sake of wackiness. With a visual reference to aliens in their logo and a name that conjures the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Voyagers are accessing two disparate and important aspects of Great Falls’ heritage.

“I think minor league baseball does about as good as any industry in coming up with unique ways to use logos and branding,” Reasoner said. “I think ours is up there with the best of them.”

The Voyagers still play at Centene Stadium—the same place where Great Falls Electrics general manager Nicholas Mariana recorded that footage of those famous space aliens back in 1950. Those glowing lights may just have been reflections of planes from the nearby Air Force base, they may have been weather balloons, or maybe they really were little green guys buzzing the Earth on an interplanetary joy ride. Whatever they were, they gave rise to one of the more endearing identities in minor league baseball.