White socks. Trolley dodgers. Expos. Metropolitans. Frightening, right? It’s one of the many things I love about the game of baseball. Non-threatening mascots. Bears can be scary, but a cub? That’s just cute. Oh sure, you can hate a Yankee (just ask anyone down south or from New England), but they don’t really make you quake unless you’re still living in the 1860’s or the one facing Joba Chamberlain’s 98-mph fastball. Minor League does it even better, with its vast array of gentle souls. Mud hens and Zephyrs. Express trains and Isotopes. Awesome. So I welcome our feisty but not angry wood chewers from the northwest, The Portland “Lucky” Beavers, back to the club with their updated, old-school and, most importantly, friendlier identity.
Designed by the ridiculously talented folks at Sandstrom Design in Portland, Oregon (natch), the AAA Pacific Coast League team gets a complete makeover aiming for “contemporary baseball vintage”. The designers and the team reached back into the team’s own heritage to create a timeless classic. A nice round seal? Check. Baseball script on the uni? Check. Real road greys? Check. What’s not to like? I can’t even complain about their “Oregon Beach”-colored home uniforms – the latest trend in simulating that old-school flannel look (See also: SF Giants, Phillies). And as much as I hate alternate uniforms in the majors, the dark navy negro-league throwback Sunday uni feels right in the minors.
Home and Alternate Sunday Home uniforms
The coastal beach and blue color palette seems appropriately derived from the Beavers’ Major League affiliate, the San Diego Padres. In the grand scheme of things, a color named “Rose City Accent” is a bit unnecessary, but the designer in me loves it. As an identity designer, I love coming up with proprietary color names. If you haven’t attempted to name something “deep purple”, then you haven’t lived. So I completely approve the serendipitous nod to the rockin’ John Cafferty and his favorite color, Beavers Brown.
The mascot itself is based off an older version of the team’s logo. I found a version dating back to the mid 1960s, but it could just as well go back to their origins in the early 1900s. It replaces what I call “stink eye beaver”. As I said, baseball just doesn’t have threatening logos. This ain’t the NFL. Even all those indian logos are mostly big-grinned caricatures (I’m smiling at you, Chief Wahoo). So the former angry beaver just doesn’t fit. Besides, how are you supposed to hit a baseball with one eye closed?
Finally, the use of the beaver tail is just sweet typographic dessert. On the cap logo, it’s the bottom arc of the script P. On the uniform script, it’s the fat end of the B in Beaver and P in Portland.
It might be time for a road trip, because I’m definitely eager to see this identity in action.
Hat image ©milb.com
Thanks to Darrin Crescenzi for the tip.