Dodgers' High-A affiliate unveils Pontooners identity

March 1st, 2024

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“It’s partying in slow motion.”

That’s how Brian Worsley, assistant general manager of the Great Lakes Loons, describes what it’s like to spend a day on a pontoon boat. These vessels, boxy and buoyant, are often classified as pleasure boats.

“You’re out there with your friends and family on the lake, enjoying the day, enjoying time with people,” he elaborated. “That’s what it is. People will go out on the lake, and they’ll have communities of pontoons that hitch out by the sandbar and hang out. So, it’s just a relaxed time on the water.”

As their “Great Lakes” geographical signifier makes clear, the Midland, Michigan-based Loons are located in close proximity to plenty of water. Saginaw Bay, part of Lake Huron, is nearby, and there are innumerable smaller lakes throughout the area.

“People here, if they can get a pontoon boat out on the water, they’ll get one on the water,” said Worsley.

From July 11-13, the Loons will bring these placid aquatic vibes to their home of Dow Diamond. The High-A Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate will play as the Pontooners as part of a themed weekend that will also include pontoon and party barge seating areas and ‘80s yacht rock dueling pianos as well as koozie and beach towel giveaways.

“It’s Michigan. We’ve got a very short window for summer and to be able to enjoy the outdoors,” said Worsley, regarding the motivation for the promotion. “It’s about squeezing every last ounce of fun out of the summer, with the inevitable Michigan winter closing in on us.”

The Pontooners logo, created by San Diego-based design studio Brandiose, features an anthropomorphic pontoon boat atop a wavy rendering of the team’s name. Worsley said that it was important that the logos and uniforms “represented two rites of passage that fans experience each summer: Loons baseball and up north at the lake.”

He continued, “We’ve got beautiful sunsets here in Michigan in the summer. At Dow Diamond you can stand out in center field on some summer nights and catch the most beautiful blue-orange-yellow sunset. So we took a color palette from that. … You’ll see someone tubing on the sleeve, and then the jersey itself is a sunset gradient.”

Given Michigan’s “short window for summer,” the Loons often find themselves competing for fans’ attention with pontoon boating and other outdoor activities. So why not combine the two?

“It’s trying to bring that essence here to the ballpark and keep people in town when I know they want to get away,” said Worsley. “We can give them a little piece of that here.”

Great Lakes Addendum: Talking to Worsley about Dow Diamond sunsets reminded me of the one time I visited the Loons in 2013. I took the above photo of the sunset, but that was one of many highlights. For instance, I took part in an awesome between-inning “Wrecking Ball” contest that involved wearing pantyhose on my head and, well, just look at the picture.

And while I have since retired from throwing out first pitches, my form was particularly impressive on this long-ago summer evening.

My archives are vast, I tell you. Vast. But let’s return from Great Lakes past and enter the Great Lakes present: The Loons’ new “Northern Lights" display, “an unforgettable symphony of lights and baseball magic,” is spectacular.

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