Fun facts for every Low-A East team

Explore a sprawling league that includes Augusta, Zebulon and plenty in-between

April 26th, 2021

After undergoing a substantial reorganization, Minor League Baseball is embarking upon a new era in 2021. There are now 120 teams competing in 11 newly named leagues, comprising four levels of play (Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A). This is the ninth in a series of league-by-league articles, highlighting one unique fact about each team.

The Low-A East is an amalgam of two previously existing Minor Leagues, featuring seven teams from the Carolina League and five from the South Atlantic League. Its geographical expanse, broken up into three divisions, covers a lot of ground. The Central Division is comprised of teams from North Carolina, while the South Division is comprised entirely of South Carolina-based entities. (Fun fact: the Augusta Green Jackets don't play in Georgia. They are located in North Augusta, S.C.) The North Division, meanwhile, includes three teams from Virginia and one from Maryland. What follows is one unique, and often strange and surprising, fact about each team in the Low-A East.

Central Division

Carolina Mudcats
Milwaukee Brewers affiliate since 2017

The Mudcats are listed first in this article because of alphabetical happenstance. "Carolina," however, is an exceedingly indistinct geographical signifier. The Mudcats are located in Zebulon, N.C.. If they were known as the Zebulon Mudcats, they would appear last in this article. Not only that, they would appear last in an alphabetical listing of all 120 Minor League teams (that honor currently belongs to the Worcester Red Sox). And not only that, they'd appear last in an alphabetical listing of every locale in which Minor League Baseball has ever been played. Second to last on this list is Zanesville, Ohio, which has fielded teams named the Kickapoos, Clay Diggers, Moguls, Infants, and, perhaps most notably, Flood Sufferers.

Down East Wood Ducks
Texas Rangers affiliate since 2017

The Wood Ducks play in Kinston, N.C.'s Grainger Stadium, which opened in 1949 and now stands as the eighth-oldest ballpark in all of Minor League Baseball. Prior to the Wood Ducks, Grainger Stadium hosted Carolina League baseball in the form of the Eagles, Expos, Blue Jays and Indians. That latter entity existed from 1987 through 2011; after a five season hiatus, the Wood Ducks arrived in 2017. The first member of a Grainger Stadium-based team to make it to the Majors was catcher Moose Morton, who played for the 1950 Kinston Eagles, and four years later, struck out in his lone Major League at-bat as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

Fayetteville Woodpeckers
Houston Astros affiliate since 2019
2019 was the Woodpeckers inaugural season. The most popular player on the team's Opening Day roster was Seth Beer, a top prospect (now in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization) with an irresistible alcoholic beverage-based name. The team sold "Beer" shirseys in their team store, which were hot sellers as Beer burnished his legacy on the field. He compiled a 1.028 OPS over 35 games with the Woodpeckers, and was especially potent during the Woodpeckers' beer-centric "Thirsty Thursday" promotions. The 2018 first-round Draft pick hit a home run in each of the three Thursday evening home games he played in Fayetteville.

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Chicago White Sox affiliate since 2001
The Cannon Ballers, formerly the Intimidators, will play at brand-new Atrium Health Ballpark in 2021. The team used to play at Intimidators Stadium, where at least one person was attacked on the field by a bat. The year was 2010, and the person was second baseman Daniel Wagner. "It was clamped on my leg, so I swiped it off with my glove and it ended up on the ground opening and closing its mouth at me," said Wagner. "It was super-creepy, worse than a spider or a rat. Just nasty."

North Division

Delmarva Shorebirds
Baltimore Orioles affiliate since 1997

Cities are the most common geographical signifier employed by Minor League teams, but states and counties are prevalent as well. The Delmarva Shorebirds are unique, however, in that they are the only team to utilize a tri-state portmanteau. (Or a portmanteau of any kind, for that matter.) Delmarva -- short for Delaware, Maryland and Virginia -- represents the Eastern Shore region in which the team is located. The Shorebirds operate out of the "mar" portion of their team name, in Salisbury, MD.

Fredericksburg Nationals
Washington Nationals affiliate since 2020

The Fredericksburg Nationals, formerly the Potomac Nationals, open their home season on May 11 in a brand-new, yet-to-be-named ballpark. When they do, they will become the first professional baseball team to play in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The previous Virginia city to make its professional baseball debut? That would be Woodbridge, home of the aforementioned Potomac Nationals, which first hosted a team in the form of the 1984 Prince William Pirates. The first professional baseball team in all of Virginia? That would be the 1884 Richmond Virginians, who began that season in the Eastern League and finished it in the American Association.

Lynchburg Hillcats
Cleveland Indians affiliate since 2015
The Hillcats are the only team in Minor League Baseball -- perhaps the only team in all of professional sports -- to serve the southwest Virginia delicacy that is the Cheesy Western. Made famous by Lynchburg's Texas Inn and Roanoke's Texas Tavern, the Cheesy Western is a burger topped with onion, pickles, sweet relish, cheese and -- most importantly -- a fried egg. The Hillcats began offering them in 2019, out of a specially branded concourse kiosk featuring a Cheesy Western logo created by design firm Brandiose.

Salem Red Sox
Boston Red Sox affiliate since 2009
What ballpark has the best view in the Low-A East? That is open to debate, of course, but the Salem Red Sox could make a very strong case on account of their gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop. This backdrop is featured in the team's primary logo, as the mountains can be seen in silhouette behind the team name. The Red Sox previously had been known by an explicitly mountainous moniker, as they played as the Salem Avalanche from 1995 through 2008. Salem was a Colorado Rockies affiliate for the first eight years of its Avalanche existence.

South Division

Augusta GreenJackets
Atlanta Braves affiliate since 2021
In 1905, at age 18, Ty Cobb won his first professional batting title as a member of the South Atlantic League's Augusta Tourists. He made his Major League debut later that season, collecting the first of his 4,191 career hits. In Cobb's honor, Augusta's Minor League team was named the Tygers from 1922-29. A more recent tribute to Cobb could be found at the GreenJackets' previous home of Lake Olmstead Stadium. It was 366 feet from home plate to the power alleys, a reference to Cobb's .366 lifetime batting average.

Charleston RiverDogs
Tampa Bay affiliate since 2021
The RiverDogs were established in 1980 as a charter member of the South Atlantic League. Over the course of 40 seasons, three team names (Royals, Rainbows, RiverDogs) and five affiliations (Kansas City, San Diego, Tampa Bay and New York Yankees), the organization never won a league title. This is the third-longest active drought in Minor League Baseball, and the longest among teams that have never won a championship at any point in their existence. The RiverDogs are now entering their second stint as a Tampa Bay affiliate, and hope springs eternal.

Columbia Fireflies
Kansas City affiliate since 2021
Most teams experience a dip in attendance in their second year at a new ballpark. Not so for the Columbia Fireflies. The team drew 261,134 to Spirit Communications Park (now Segra Park) in their inaugural season of 2016. The next season, the Fireflies drew 315,034. The primary reason for this anomalous increase was the presence of Tim Tebow on the roster. The former quarterback, now retired from baseball as well, opened the 2017 season on the Fireflies and proved to be a big draw in Columbia and throughout the South Atlantic League. Tebow played 64 games for Columbia, his first as a professional baseball player, before getting promoted to the Class A Advanced St. Lucie Mets.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Chicago Cubs affiliate since 2015
The franchise that is today's Myrtle Beach Pelicans began in 1980 as one of Minor League Baseball's most iconic teams, the Durham Bulls. Following the 1997 season the Bulls, a Carolina League team, relocated to Danville, Va. and spent a season there before moving to Myrtle Beach in 1999 and becoming the Pelicans. The Durham Bulls never ceased operations, however. In tandem with the relocation of its Carolina League, the city of Durham was awarded a Triple-A team and became an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. That iteration of the Bulls, which began play in 1998, is the one that exists today.