Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Blue Wahoos Add Color And Splash
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos, so designated after a colorfully named fish indigenous to their Florida panhandle environs, formerly played in Zebulon, N.C. as the Carolina Mudcats (the Mudcats live on in a modified form, however, as they replaced the Kinston Indians in the Carolina League). The team will be taking the field in waterfront Maritime Park, the only new facility to open in Minor League Baseball in 2012.
With all of this being the case, it's clear that Pensacola's inaugural season is the biggest story in the Southern League. While the city has hosted an independent league team in recent years, this marks the first time that an affiliated club has competed there in more than 50 years (the Blue Wahoos are the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds).
"To step forward into organized ball opens up another dynamic," Blue Wahoos president Bruce Baldwin told MiLB.com this past November. "You never know when you're going to see the next Ken Griffey Jr. or Chipper Jones or Randy Johnson, and that's the exciting part."
Not that Pensacola hasn't seen its share of big-name athletes through the years. The city boasts a remarkably strong professional sports pedigree, as the likes of Don Sutton and Travis Fryman, as well as Emmitt Smith and Roy Jones Jr., have all grown up in the area. Baldwin believes this fact is indicative of the region's strong sporting intelligence. But as the team name implies, fans will still get a strong dose of irreverent Minor League-style entertainment when they visit Maritime Park and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
"If Minor League Baseball has room for Flying Squirrels and IronPigs, then why not the Pensacola Blue Wahoos?" asked Baldwin.
"The ideal night, for us, is when fans go home and talk to their neighbors about what a good time they had," he continued. "And when the neighbor asks whether the team won or lost, the response is 'I'm not sure.'"
Not everyone will take such a laissez-faire approach to the win-loss record, and chief among them is Blue Wahoos manager Jim Riggleman. The veteran skipper is arguably the most compelling field general in the Southern League, given the circumstances that brought him to Pensacola. Riggleman began the 2011 season at the helm of the Washington Nationals, but resigned abruptly in June over uncertainty regarding his long-term future. His new position with the Blue Wahoos marks the first time since 1992 that he has managed at the Minor League level.
"I'm rejuvenated to be back in uniform. But the game is rejuvenating in itself. Wherever you're at, there's always challenges, and you're looking forward to facing those challenges and making progress with your team wherever you're at," Riggleman told the Pensacola News Journal in December.
"Rejuvenation" may as well be the buzzword for the Blue Wahoos as the team gears up for Opening Day. The team has sold more than 230,000 tickets prior to the first pitch, including 3,000 full-season plans. Such a robust response bodes well for the club, for 2012 and beyond.
"We're creating a culture and a whole format here that we're not looking at just this year. We're looking at the next 10 years," Pensacola Blue Wahoos executive vice president Jonathan Griffith told MiLB.com earlier this month.
Thanks for visiting the Blue Wahoos go visit a spell with the Southen League of baseball as you leave the Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Batter Up --- Let's Play Ball ....