Creative Names – The Vancouver/West Michigan Whitecaps

Greetings readers,

Today’s Creative Names will deal with two teams that share a nickname. Enter the Whitecaps.

One team is part of the Detroit Tigers’ farm system (and has been since 1997.) The other plays in the MLS. One has been around since 1994, while the other is just starting up. One is known for having a gigantic burger worth 4,800 calories on their menu and shares a corporation name in their ballpark name with the Toledo Mud Hens and fellow Midwest League foe Dayton.

The West Michigan Whitecaps started playing in 1994, after the Madison Muskies moved in 1993. The team has been in the same ballpark since the team’s birth. Once called the Old Kent Park, the stadium name was changed in 2002 to Fifth Third Ballpark when the company bought the Old Kent Bank. Fifth Third also owns two other baseball parks in Toledo and Dayton, as well as a college basketball arena in Cincinnati. There is also the Fifth Third Burger, which weighs in at four pounds and 4,800 calories. It was featured on an episode of “Man vs. Food.”

The actual name comes from two sources: one from the history of baseball within the Grand Rapids area and the other from the proximity of the Grand River and Lake Michigan. The actual history of baseball for the area actually started in 1980 when a columnist questioned why can’t baseball work there where it does in Evansville, Indiana (Detroit’s Triple-A franchise was there at the time.) The history is very interesting, so give it a look-through here.

Over the northern border lies the Vancouver Whitecaps. Looking at their logo, you can see the top part being the mountains and the bottom part (which kind of looks like a W) being the blue waves of the Pacific Ocean. With this logo, it’s easy to identify the tops of the mountains as being white caps. The history with this team begins in 1974, as the Whitecaps played their first game. They won the championship in 1979, defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Skipping all the way to 2008, the Whitecaps were announced to be the 17th team in the MLS. They will soon play in the newly-renovated BC Place. Give the history a look-through here.

I remember watching the Columbus Crew game in Vancouver on ONN, and I just remember the mountains hanging over the stadium. It was a beautiful site to see. Columbus won that game 1-0 over Vancouver.

So there you have it, two professional teams with the same nickname but different history. One deals with the actual baseball hats whereas the other deals with the mountains.

Also, the logo posted of West Michigan is the old one. The new one can be found on WM’s history site, with a wave inhaling a baseball. The old logo kind of reminds me of Miamisburg’s old city logo. I’m not sure when they switched logos, but it might be around 2003 from a picture I seen with the current uniform setup, which dates from 2003-present. You can see the old logo on some old programs, which are hanging up in the hallway of Fifth Third Field in Dayton. It’s pretty neat to see.

Source of information from West Michigan’s website, Vancouver’s website, and (for the old logo comparison.)

Until next time,



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