Meet the Beetles: White Sox High-A affiliate unveils alternate identity

February 27th, 2024

Tobacco Beetles, the Winston-Salem Dash’s new alternate identity, pays tribute to one of the region’s most notorious pests. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.

The Dash, the High-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, are one of Minor League Baseball’s longest continuously operating teams. The franchise was established in 1945 as the Winston-Salem Cardinals, and the Dash moniker -- a nod to the punctuation between Winston and Salem in the city’s name -- was adopted in 2009. The Tobacco Beetles identity was unveiled on Tuesday, well in advance of their Aug. 9 on-field debut (as part of a larger “Salute to North Carolina” promotion at Winston-Salem’s Truist Stadium).

The Tobacco Beetles' primary logo features the pest in question -- also known as a cigarette beetle -- nattily attired and behind the wheel of a Model T Ford. The logos were designed by Brandiose, a San Diego-based studio that has worked with dozens of Minor League teams over the past two decades.

“Winston-Salem, no surprise, has a deep history with agriculture and more specifically the tobacco industry. The peak time for that was the ‘20s,” Dash GM Brian DeAngelis said in explaining the Tobacco Beetles’ vintage aesthetic. “It’s a giant pest, not only in the fields when they’re growing tobacco leaves, but also as they’re curing and drying at the factories and warehouses. It was a really big problem the people here had to address in order to sustain their economy.

“And I think that one of the things we’re championing is the fact that [Winston-Salem] was able to handle and manage that pest and not let it impact, because it’s something that, in actuality, could have destroyed entire crops. For any agricultural town, that’s kind of the end of your economy, if that were to happen.”

Winston-Salem’s embrace of an insect nuisance has precedents in Minor League Baseball, particularly within the region where it plays. The city is just half an hour away from Greensboro, N.C., home of the Grasshoppers. Kannapolis’ Minor League team was originally known as the Piedmont Boll Weevils. Savannah, Ga., was previously home to the Sand Gnats, who relocated to Columbia, S.C., and renamed themselves the Fireflies (a less problematic bug, from a human perspective).

“To say that [Tobacco Beetles] was a completely independent, original idea probably isn’t true,” said DeAngelis. “We haven’t really had a bad guy image at all, in any of our past history. So this will be our first and we’ll see how people respond to it.”

The Tobacco Beetles moniker follows on the heels of two alternate identities the Dash unveiled in 2022. The Hyphens, a nod to grammatical correctness, humorously acknowledged the punctuation mark between Winston and Salem isn’t actually a dash. The Flights, meanwhile, simultaneously paid tribute to the region’s aviation history and craft beer scene.

“We have two more [alternate identities] that are unreleased at this point, that we’re going to be doing this season,” said DeAngelis. “And actually two more beyond that we’ve actually planned for next season. So we’re going to keep them coming. As long as people respond well to them and enjoy them, I see no reason to stop.”