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Voters overwhelmingly choose River Pigs as baseball team name in Tupper Lake

From left, Christina Russell and Mike Russell watch on as Tupper Lake village board Trustee David "Haji" Maroun fills out one of the last ballots of the day during Saturday's election for a name of the incoming baseball team. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

TUPPER LAKE — A decision that has taken this village through the ringer is closed. After a vote by the public on Saturday, Empire League President Eddie Gonzalez confirmed what almost 73% of the voters wanted — for River Pigs to be the new name of the Tupper Lake baseball team. 

One hundred and seventy-one people, or almost 28%, voted for anything other than the River Pigs. River Drivers came closest with 124 votes, which was 20% of the total.

The makeshift voting booth in the Tupper Lake Municipal Park was open from noon to 6 p.m., when it closed and locals started to count the votes. Village board Trustee David “Haji” Maroun, a leading organizer of the incoming baseball team, said he was impressed by the turnout and that it was “amazing for the community.” He said he saw children and adults excited for the new team. 

The turnout surpassed Tupper Lake’s school board elections in May. Three-hundred-and-eighty showed up then, which is almost 85% of the number of people who voted for the River Pigs and a little more than 61% of the total number of votes cast Saturday.

To vote, people would show up, sign their name in a book and then fill out a blank ballot by selecting only one of the seven name options for the new team. 

Tupper Lake village board Trustee Ron LaScala livestreams the counting of the votes on his Facebook page so all can see Saturday during an election for the name of the community's incoming baseball team. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

After the votes were counted, there was a discrepancy between the number of people who signed up at the moment to vote. A total of 646 had signed up, and 639 ballots had actually been cast. Mike Russell, who had worked at the booth throughout the afternoon, said someone had signed up and voted who had not actually been there, a violation of the rules that had been set up. It was unclear if a proxy had been sent in the person’s stead. Russell said he had ripped up the ballot, as the person must vote in person. 

Throughout the counting of the votes there were several watchers and even a livestream on Facebook of the counting by Ron LaScala, a village trustee. His phone died at one point during the recording, but Fire Chief Royce Cole, who is also on the River Pigs Baseball Committee, quickly whipped out his phone and started counting. 

LaScala said after the ballots had been counted that the important thing was for the village to move on and rejoice in their new team. Some pointed out that the difference between the votes cast for the River Pigs and every other option was so great that no change would be made to the vote if missing votes went to some name other than the River Pigs. 

After Maroun announced the tallies, he called Gonzalez, who is in Florida, about the result. Gonzalez has been a proponent for the name, proposing it after a friend of his researched Tupper Lake’s history and found out it was a name for people who dealt with floating logs on the river. Gonzalez then said he would officially name the new baseball team the River Pigs; the result had to be approved by Gonzalez for it to become official. He could have chosen another name if he had wished, according to Maroun. 

The event also drew in a little over $1,000 in donations from the public. The money will go to repairing and rebuilding the ball field in the Municipal Park, next to the voting stand.

Through a donation of food from Rick Reandeau of New York Life Insurance, hot dogs and hamburgers were sold to the public.

VOTE BREAKDOWN (official count):

Blank ballots – 1

write-ins – 2

Spoiled ballots (had more than one name selected) – 2

Mighty Hemlocks – 2

Rowdy Bucks – 3

Tupper Timbers – 15

River Otters – 16

The Axemen – 26

River Drivers – 124

River Pigs – 448

——–

Total – 639

(Correction: The total number of votes has been updated, as per election organizers, and the spelling of Rick Reandeau’s name has been corrected.)