Huntington's Appalachian League team unveils Tri-State Coal Cats name, logos

February 15th, 2024

Can you dig it? The Tri-State Coal Cats have emerged from the mines. This new Appalachian League entity, based in Huntington, W. Va., announced their name and logos on Thursday morning.

The Coal Cats will play at Marshall University's Jack Cook Field, a brand-new facility. The 10-team Appalachian League, formerly a Rookie Advanced-level affiliated circuit, was reclassified as summer-collegiate as part of a larger reorganization of Minor League Baseball that took place prior to the 2021 campaign.

The Appalachian League's season starts in June, following the conclusion of the college season, with rosters comprised of players being developed for possible inclusion on the USA Baseball Collegiate National team and other national squads. The Coal Cats will be managed by Tommy Gregg, an outfielder and first baseman who played in the Major Leagues for parts of nine seasons. Salomón Torres, a veteran of 12 Major League seasons, will serve as pitching coach.

The Coal Cats are preparing for their inaugural season following a relocation from Princeton, W. Va., where they were most recently known as the WhistlePigs. Huntington previously hosted an Appalachian League team from 1990-95, operating as a Cubs affiliate for the first five of those seasons. Jason Camp, Coal Cats general manager, explained that the team's moniker is a tribute to the Huntington region's coal mining history.

"We went round and round with Marshall [University] and their creative team about what we were going to go with," he said. "They are going to have one of only two cyber security schools in the nation. ... So we talked about, for instance, the Cyber Ninjas and those type of things. But we really wanted to bring it back, that this is a blue collar town, a blue collar area. It's about mountains and coal and the generations that have worked hard to create this community."

Huntington, the second largest city in West Virginia, is located in the western portion of the state at the confluence of the Ohio and Guyandotte Rivers. The Coal Cats' "Tri-State" geographical moniker incorporates the larger market, also consisting of towns in southern Ohio and northeast Kentucky.

"We want to be an entire community team, not just a Huntington team or West Virginia team," said Camp. "We are really one community, what we pull from and what we do. It doesn't matter what state you're in."

The Coal Cats' logos were designed by Dylan Winters, the director of graphic design at Marshall University. The color scheme consists of what the team describes as coal black, cool gray, white and, of course, Marshall green. The Coal Cat in question has a rock-like texture, like a chunk of coal, while the interlocking TS on the primary cap features a T that resembles a pickaxe.

"My favorite little nugget is in the paw [logo]," said Sean Collins, Coal Cats vice-president of operations. "While it has the mountain range, it also has TSCC [Tri-State Coal Cats] within it. Some people notice it, some people won't. Also on the roundel logo, the little hash marks are like stitches on a baseball. These little things that I think, graphically, make this logo set really amazing."

The next several months will be a whirlwind. Jack Cook Field is being readied for its inaugural campaign, providing the Marshall University Thundering Herd baseball team with its first on-campus ballpark. The Coal Cats' 48-game season kicks off on June 4 and then runs until the end of July.

"We can double the activity that's happening in that stadium," said Camp. "The infrastructure of combining that athletic department with the Appy League and what we can do together, it's just great. Even from the level of their sports management department, and us bringing those on who are striving to work in the sports industry and have hands-on training.

"This will be a nice feather in the cap for the Appy League."