Gastonia Honey Hunters join Atlantic League

The city of Gastonia, North Carolina, will be home to the Honey Hunters, a new baseball team in the independent Atlantic League beginning this season. Per the team, the nickname “pays homage to the original Honey Hunter, Hunter Ransom – Gaston County’s first freed slave and African American land owner. Our self-taught, self-made hometown hero turned ‘useless land’ into a place where dreams were realized.”

The team’s logo, designed by Brandiose, features a honey badger. The Mellivora capensis is not native to North Carolina, or even North America, but rather most of Africa and parts of Asia. That said, it is a household name to most Americans thanks to a viral video about honey badgers that has more than 96 million views since it was posted almost exactly a decade ago.

While it doesn’t hurt that many potential fans have that viral video as an entry point to their knowledge of the animal featured in the logo, the choice of the honey badger was not influenced by the animal’s pop culture prominence.

“You can’t build a brand off of a social media video,” said Jason Klein of Brandiose. “If we’re going to put a little dash of pop culture into the recipe, then we have to be acutely aware that people are going to disassociate from the pop culture reference at some point and it has to stand on its own.”

And the way you make it stand on its own is by making sure the nickname is appropriate to the culture of the place it represents.

“We all know the honey badger as tough-as-nails, does not care what anybody else thinks,” Klein said. “It’s a creature that goes after what it wants. It’s always looking for something sweeter in life, and that is very indicative of the people of Gastonia.”

The nickname reflects Gastonia’s reputation as a gritty, no-nonsense town with roots in the textile industry.

“The textile industry built a culture of hard work, you do it for your family, you put your head down and you grind,” Klein said. “You’re not trying to be glamorous, and you’re always looking for something better in the future.”

And that something better is, of course, sweet, sweet honey.

“Honey became a theme early on,” Klein said. “Honey stands for something sweet, something you seek after.”

The nickname Honey Hunters beat out four other finalists: Fire Ants, Hogzillas, Hotshots, and Uppercuts. The team will make its debut when the Atlantic League takes the field later this year.