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R.I.P., River Pigs

But we look forward to the new name of Tupper’s baseball team

We were ready to root for the River Pigs. Granted, we will root for Tupper Lake’s upcoming Empire Professional Baseball League team no matter what it is named, but upon hearing the proposed name announced, we were intrigued.

The team will play on the shore of Raquette Pond, where the river pigs of logging days did their dirty work, guiding millions of logs to the mills on the bank.

These new River Pigs would have wielded bats instead of the hooked poles loggers used to break up log jams, but they could have represented the same strong, fearless spirit that built Tupper Lake. Without the river pigs of old, the logs wouldn’t have made it downstream. If the logs hadn’t made it to the mills, the mills would have shut down. Without the mills, there would have been no Tupper Lake.

But some folks didn’t like that name. Some complained publicly, and an Enterprise web poll resulted in almost two-thirds of respondents saying they did not like the name. Keep in mind: This is not a scientific poll, and there is no way to tell how many of the voters live in Tupper Lake.

The local committee organizers working to bring the team here defended the name for a few weeks, but now they’re starting to back away from it. The committee hasn’t made a formal decision yet, but a couple of organizers posted on Facebook that the team name would not be the River Pigs.

Many of the people who opposed the name were concerned that it would paint the town in a “dirty” light. Tourism would stall, they suggested, because who wants to stay in a pig pen? And worst of all, the community’s hard work rebranding Tupper Lake with the Wild Center, Adirondack Sky Center and other camping, shopping and tourism opportunities would be covered by the mud of a pig.

Yes, some people use the word “pig” as an insult. But pigs are also very intelligent animals.

“I am fond of pigs,” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said. “Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

Pigs are also brawny and intimidating, which is good for a sports team. The image of a hog wielding a bat might make opponents quiver.

Sure, pigs are messy. So is baseball. And Tupper Lake doesn’t need to distance itself from a good mess.

Woodsmen’s Days, which will be moved farther down the Municipal Park as the softball field is converted for baseball, is a big part part of Tupper Lake’s identity, and it is possibly the messiest event in the Adirondacks. There you’ll see people slathered in mud, Crisco, sawdust and whipped cream with giant smiles on their faces.

Minor league baseball names are often bold and unusual, sometimes goofy, such as the Montgomery (Alabama) Biscuits, Jacksonville (Florida) Jumbo Shrimp, Richmond (Virginia) Flying Squirrels, El Paso (Texas) Chihuahuas and even the Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) IronPigs.

But we get that a lot of people in Tupper Lake were not ready to root for the River Pigs. The committee and league have learned from this, and we expect the new name will be even better.

No matter what name they settle on, we’ll be ready to root from them, too.

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