Fun facts for all eight Double-A South teams

Venture to a world where Michael Jordan, space mammals and Crabzilla live in harmony

April 12th, 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 fifth in a series of league-by-league articles, highlighting one unique fact about each team.

Each of the three new Double-A leagues strongly resemble one of the three leagues that had existed previously. Eight of the 10 teams in the Double-A Central came from the Texas League; 11 of the 12 teams in the Double-A Northeast hail from the Eastern League and all eight of the teams in the Double-A South had previously operated in the Southern League.

The Double-A South's eight teams are therefore plenty familiar with one another, although there is a newcomer in the mix in the form of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. This space-themed Alabama entity, based in the Greater Huntsville area, relocated from Mobile following the 2019 season and will finally make their on-field debut when the Minor League Baseball season begins on May 4. What follows is one unique, and often strange and surprising, fact about each Double-A Central club.

North Division

Birmingham Barons
Chicago White Sox affiliate since 1986

If you want to win a bar bet on a technicality, go with this fact: Michael Jordan never played a Minor League Baseball game in Birmingham. Yes, the moonlighting NBA superstar famously spent the 1994 campaign as a member of the Birmingham Barons' outfield corps. But that season, as with every Barons' season between 1988 and 2012, the team played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. This facility, as its name makes clear, was located not in Birmingham but in the nearby suburb of Hoover. Jordan played in 127 games for the Barons in 1994, compiling an actually-impressive-under-the-circumstances average of .202.

Chattanooga Lookouts
Cincinnati Reds affiliate since 2019
Late last month, the Lookouts' home of AT&T Field was burglarized. The most distressing aspect of this unfortunate event was that Looie, the team's big red mustachioed mascot, was abducted. Fortunately, he soon found his way home. In the early morning hours of March 31, an employee of the Chattanooga Aquarium found Looie and returned him to the Lookouts. "Everyone in the state of Tennessee can now breathe a sigh of relief," said Lookouts president Rich Mozingo. Looie, none the worse for wear, will be in attendance when the Lookouts open their season against the Rocket City Trash Pandas on May 4.

Rocket City Trash Pandas
Los Angeles Angels affiliate since 2020
The Trash Pandas, based in the Huntsville suburb of Madison, are set to play their first game on May 4. It's been a long time coming. The team's lunar raccoon-themed logos were unveiled all the way back in October of 2018, when they still had one more season to play in their now-former home of Mobile (where they known as the BayBears). As to how the team's distinct aesthetic came about, Jason Klein of logo design firm Brandiose provided the following explanation: "The [Huntsville] community has got an incredible amount of engineers, and it's also a hub of rocket scientists. Literally, rocket science. So we brought it all together. A trash panda in Rocket City is going to figure out how to get a trash can launched into outer space. And when he gets there, he plants his flag on a planet. That's pretty much the narrative."

Tennessee Smokies
Chicago Cubs affiliate since 2007
Smokies Stadium is located approximately 15 miles north of Dollywood, the Pigeon Ford, Tenn., amusement park owned by country music superstar Dolly Parton. The biggest crowd in the ballpark's two-decade history was bolstered by a music legend of a different sort, however. The Smokies drew a record 8,164 fans on June 17, 2017. The occasion? Jimmy Buffett Night.

South Division

Biloxi Shuckers
Milwaukee Brewers affiliate since 2015

The Shuckers played their inaugural season in 2015 after relocating from Huntsville. Unfortunately, due to construction delays, their home of MGM Park didn't open until June 6 of that year. Thus, the team began its existence with an epic 54-game road trip. During this time, the Shuckers played 15 of their 25 home games at Huntsville's Joe Davis Stadium. They also went on the road, but played as the home team, against the Mississippi Braves and the Jacksonville Suns. The Shuckers were in first place by the time they played their first game in MGM Park, en route to the best record in the Southern League that season.

Mississippi Braves
Atlanta Braves affiliate since 2005
The Mississippi Braves, who are owned by the Atlanta Braves, are the only Double-A South team to carry the name of their parent club. There is certainly a precedent for this conservative name choice. Prior to moving to Pearl, Miss., the team spent 21 seasons as the Greenville Braves and, prior to that, 13 seasons as the Savannah Braves. The last time this franchise wasn't an Atlanta affiliate named the Braves was in 1970, their final season as the Cleveland-affiliated Savannah Indians.

Montgomery Biscuits
Tampa Bay Rays affiliate since 2004
From both an architectural and historical perspective, the Biscuits' home of Riverwalk Stadium is one of the most interesting in the Minor Leagues. A good portion of the stadium's structure, extending down the first-base line, is a refurbished train shed. Prior to being a train shed, it was a cotton depot-turned-Confederate-run military prison. A commemorative plaque located outside of the ballpark explains that the majority of the 700 Union soldiers housed there were captured at Shiloh. “They were imprisoned in a foul, vermin-abounding cotton depot…without blankets and only the hard earth of wood planks as a bed," the plaque reads in part.

Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Miami Marlins affiliate since 2021
Few, if any, Minor League Baseball concession items are as imposing as the Blue Wahoos' Crabzilla. This seafood monstrosity, which debuted in 2019, features a soft-shell crab sandwich topped (or surrounded by) crab remoulade, pork belly, Parmesan crab mac and cheese, fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, crab hushpuppies and crab fries. The team has hinted that they might suit up as the Crabzillas this season. In the meantime, they have unveiled Crabzilla hats and t-shirts. These items, unlike the sandwich itself, can be shipped to interested buyers across the country.