The High-A Tri-City Dust Devils just moments ago unveiled an alternate identity that pays tribute to specific boat races that have taken place on the Columbia River for more than half a century. The team will play as the Columbia River Rooster Tails, a reference to plumes of water created by hydroplane boats during the Columbia Cup, an event that has occurred annually in the Tri-Cities area since 1966.
“It is a direct homage to two of the most important things in the Tri-Cities,” said Erik “the Peanut Guy” Mertens, longtime on-field emcee and unofficial spokesperson for the Dust Devils. “The first is the Columbia River, which is the largest and most historic and most unifying geographic feature in the region…. And second, there’s a huge event that happens every July on the Columbia River smack dab in the middle of the Tri-Cities, and it is an H1 Unlimited hydroplane race called the Columbia Cup.”
The reason for the rooster in the logo is apparent to people familiar with hydroplane racing.
“As boats are flying across the Columbia River, their big trail of water is referred to as a rooster tail,” said the team’s general manager Derrel Ebert. “If you see this event in person, it is nonstop rooster tails visually, you’re constantly seeing rooster tails as they’re hauling in the straightaways and heading into those big curves. It’s rooster tails, rooster tails, rooster tails.”
The enormity of the plumes of water created by the racing hydroplanes is so impressive, it could not be contained by a single side of the jersey.
“Watch what a rooster tail from a hydroplane is. It’s a big wall of water,” Ebert said. “So when we were creating the jersey, that was a big thing that we wanted to get across, so the water goes on the front of the jersey and then wraps around on the back, because it’s such a massive body of water.”
While the nickname might take a bit of explaining to those not familiar with the phenomenon of hydroplane races, the team hopes that the logo will have both hyper-local and national appeal. Even if you’ve never heard the term rooster tail as it pertains to boat racing, the logo represents minor league fun.
“I remember the front office was going back and forth, like, is the logo just the hydroplane?” Mertens said. “We want to go with the Rooster Tails because that’s more of a fun name. If we just called them the Columbia River Hydroplanes, okay that works, but it’s not Minor League Baseball enough.”
The team will wear the Rooster Tails identity for a series in June as well as during Columbia Cup weekend, which is always the last weekend in July.