New Jersey's Lakewood Township Minor League Baseball team isn't going anywhere. In 2021, as in every season since their inaugural 2001 campaign, the Phillies' Class A affiliate will still be named the BlueClaws and operate out of FirstEnergy Park. Nonetheless, next year marks the official start of a new era
New Jersey's Lakewood Township Minor League Baseball team isn't going anywhere. In 2021, as in every season since their inaugural 2001 campaign, the Phillies' Class A affiliate will still be named the BlueClaws and operate out of FirstEnergy Park. Nonetheless, next year marks the official start of a new era for the franchise.
On Wednesday evening at Asbury Park's historic beachside Convention Hall, the BlueClaws announced that they are changing their geographical signifier from Lakewood to Jersey Shore. A new slate of logos also was unveiled, emphasizing the BlueClaws' connection to the boardwalk and beach-centric atmosphere for which the New Jersey Shore is renowned.
BlueClaws president Joe Ricciutti said the switch from Lakewood to Jersey Shore was part of a "logical progression" that has taken place over the last three years. The team was acquired by a new ownership group, Shore Town Baseball, in late 2017. This group, led by former Mandalay Baseball Properties CEO Art Matin, immediately began adding iconic Jersey Shore elements to the ballpark experience. Concession stands serve up boardwalk staples such as pizza, fries and ice cream, while carnival-style games can be found along center field's Home Run Pavilion. A nine-hole miniature golf course is located on the right field side of the facility, with each hole named after a BlueClaws alumnus who enjoyed success with the parent Phillies.
"Mini golf, soft-serve ice cream, boardwalk games. If you've been to the Jersey Shore, it's what you do. We're adopting the look and feel of the best parts of the Jersey Shore," Ricciutti said. "It's about families, making memories and people being together. The similarities with that and Minor League Baseball are right there, just a natural progression to what we do as an industry. [Modifying the team name] was part of the natural evolution of this process. The more we talked about it, it just became that much more obvious."
The BlueClaws partnered with Brandiose to develop their new look. The San Diego-based design firm, headed by co-founders Casey White and Jason Klein, has worked with dozens of Minor League teams over the past 15 years.
"We had our entire staff together in a big conference room," Ricciutti said. "[Brandiose] led the conversation, 'What does the Jersey Shore mean to you?' It was a smart, well-structured process and a lot of ideas came out of that. Then we took a tour the next day, visiting iconic spots all over the Jersey Shore. We hit Asbury Park, seeing [music venue] The Stone Pony, Wonder Bar and the beach. We went up to Point Pleasant, Belmar, all these spots reflective of different elements of the shore. Walking up and down the boardwalks. Nostalgic resort towns with big Victorian houses from a different era to places with a cool and more contemporary look and feel. It was about getting a good perspective on what the Jersey Shore is and making sense of all of that."
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"Something we talked about a lot was, 'Who comes to visit the Jersey Shore and who lives there?'" Klein added. "We needed to focus on who lives there as the primary lifestyle to celebrate. It was all about broadening the reach to a greater part of New Jersey."
The BlueClaws' new color scheme features red, yellow and blue. The team describes the hues involved as "Phillies Red, Dark Atlantic Blue, Crab Blue and Golden Yellow."
"We worked hard to get it to where it was vibrant bright and cool," Ricciutti said. "It's a two-part process, getting the visuals right and then the color scheme and the wordmarks. What should they convey?"
As the team is still named the BlueClaws, it's no surprise that a blue crab factors heavily in the new look. The primary logo features a "surfin' crab" in a red hat and yellow board trunks. An alternate logo, used on batting practice caps, shows the crab toting a boogie board and, presumably, running toward the ocean. A navy blue “faux-back style" crab logo, featuring baseball seams, will be displayed on road caps. A fourth logo depicts a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster reflected in a pair of sunglasses. "JS" can be seen in the clouds above the Ferris Wheel, with "BC" visible in the sky beyond the roller coaster.
"The primary logo is on the home cap, but we realize that not every fan is going to love every logo," Klein said. "So we create something for all types of fans. A whole family of logos, something for kids, adults and everyone in between."
Uncertainties remain regarding the 2021 season, specifically surrounding ongoing COVID-19 concerns and the general reorganization of the Minor League Baseball landscape. But when the time comes, the BlueClaws are ready to hit the beach running.
"We're the hometown baseball team of the Jersey Shore, and that spans the whole state," Ricciutti said. "It's an inclusive idea, embracing all of these shore town communities up and down the coast and all the beautiful things that they offer."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.