The Colorado Rockies' minor league baseball affiliate vehemently denied a request Thursday to change their nickname to a federally protected fish that originally lived in the Colorado River.
Ian Lummis and a group of his friends created the online petition after trying to come up with a nickname based on the physical features of Grand Junction, Colo., where they were working as overnight security guards for one company, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel.
Lummis’ friend, Sam Graf, once worked for the Division of Wildlife and helped reintroduce some native fish called "humpback chubs" into the Colorado River. Thus, the name Humpback Chubs was born and a social-media push began to get the Grand Junction Rockies to change their name to the Grand Junction Humpback Chubs.
“I got to thinking that we live in this really great and unique place and having the same name as your Major League counterpart isn't really great or unique,” Lummis told the Grand Junction Sentinel. “We're brainstorming about how Grand Junction has these great outdoor features and it's a little bit of a pattern with Colorado sports teams, but monuments and mesas don't really work for it.”
Lummis started his push with a tweet to the Grand Junction Rockies Twitter account and then another to the Hartford Yard Goats Twitter account – another Rockies’ minor league affiliate. Lummis said that’s when the Grand Junction Rockies blocked him on Twitter.
Lummis then started an online petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures and eventually drew the attention of the Grand Junction Rockies.
The team released a two-tweet statement on the matter but ended up deleting the tweets after a few moments.
“The GJ Rockies are not considering changing their name and never have. We are owned by a group led by the Colorado Rockies and having a team on the west slope helps build their brand. Suggesting we would be called the GJ ‘Chubs’ is offensive and a slang sexual term for erection,” the deleted statement read.
“The GJ Rockies pride ourselves on providing fun family entertainment and suggesting inappropriate name changes will not be tolerated. Anyone who continues to suggest the GJ ‘Chubs’ in any way will be blocked from our account.”
Lummis argued that the name would fit the wildlife.
“I hope the strangeness of the name is effective as a means of getting attention, to the team and city of Grand Junction, as well as the fish itself,” Lummis told the paper. “I hope the name brings some notoriety with it as minor league teams like the Jumbo Shrimp and Rumble Ponies have, but also is something people in the Grand Valley will embrace. I definitely have no intention of trolling the GJ Rockies through this. I genuinely believe it would be a great name for a local team.”
Over the last few seasons, minor league baseball teams have changed their names to represent the uniqueness of their areas. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers temporarily changed their name to the Wisconsin Udder Tuggers, the Staten Island Yankees from time-to-time call themselves the Staten Island Pizza Rats and the El Paso Chihuahuas became the El Paso Margaritas for five home games.