Kilgore, TX (April 2, 2008) – The picture said it all. Beneath the “Driller Park” lettering that welcomed fans to the venerable facility hung a brand new sign: “Welcome to… Pump Jacks Nation!”
And with that, fans and media were introduced to the East Texas Pump Jacks, giving a name and a face to the new Texas Collegiate League franchise that was introduced in January. East Texas Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Pump Jacks, unveiled the team name, primary logos, and color scheme at an afternoon press conference today in the courtyard of the 61-year-old ballpark.
The announcement ended two months of speculation and anticipation that began with the team’s introduction and the ensuing “Name Your Team” contest. Management solicited local fans to name the ball club, and even though suggestions poured in, one theme was very clear.
“So much of this area’s identity is born from the East Texas oil field, and it was clear fans wanted that heritage reflected in the team,” said general manager Mike Lieberman. “Fans also wanted a strong, workmanlike name befitting their baseball team, and we believe that we have it all with Pump Jacks.”
Although the organization wanted a name that fans could relate to, officials explained that it was also important for the team to have its own identity. That is why the team steered fans away from Drillers, the name of the last professional team to call Driller Park home, from 1947 to 1950. The Drillers nickname has been used since 1977 by a Double-A team in Tulsa, Okla., affiliated with the Colorado Rockies. For the same reason, the organization sidestepped suggestions like Roughnecks and Wildcatters, names of recent minor league teams in Tyler.
Alan Poff, one of the team’s co-owners, feels the moniker fulfills the organization’s quest for a distinctive nickname. “We were seeking something unique but not off-the-wall crazy, and Pump Jacks strikes that perfect balance,” commented Poff. “There isn’t another summer collegiate or professional team in the nation called the Pump Jacks.”
What may be even more notable than the Pump Jacks name is the logo – or logos, as it turns out. The traditional formula of developing a primary insignia and supplementing it with secondary marks was cast aside in favor of dual primary logos. Each of the Pump Jacks logos unveiled Wednesday can be used interchangeably as primary identifiers for the team on items like business cards, letterhead, and the web site. Officials are confident that this approach will provide the organization unprecedented flexibility in marketing and merchandising, while also giving a broader identity for fans to connect with the team.
“We knew from the beginning that we wanted two characters in the logos, and it evolved into two distinct primary marks,” noted co-owner Brett Cox. “It opens up so many creative doors for the team, but it also gives people a unique way to show that they’re Pump Jacks fans. Some fans will prefer one of the characters and can express themselves with that logo, and other fans will identify with the other character – but they’re all part of Pump Jacks Nation.”
The characters represented in the two Pump Jacks logos are a dinosaur and a donkey. Team officials explained that the inspiration for the dinosaur character came from the oil field, oil’s classification as a fossil fuel, and the popular theory that fossil fuels developed from the remains of now-extinct dinosaurs. The donkey character, on the other hand, has a more modern derivation. Pump jacks, seen all over the East Texas landscape bobbing up and down in place, are also affectionately known as nodding donkeys.
The two characters also have distinct facial expressions, giving the logos very different emotional impressions. The dinosaur, which resembles a brontosaurus, is smiling and happy, like a welcoming friend despite his imposing size. The menacing look on the donkey demonstrates that he’s ready to battle an opponent until the final out, no matter how big the challenger might be. Even the donkey’s backwards cap implies that he’s a scrapper.
Both logos feature a character placed above the distinctive “Pump Jacks” text, with an arching background shape. Set against the background next to the donkey is the silhouette of a pump jack, while the dinosaur mark features a pair of East Texas derricks. A blanket on the donkey’s back bears a star, reminding fans that the Pump Jacks home is Kilgore, the “City of Stars”.
The team colors also bear local significance. Dark green represents the Piney Woods region that encompasses East Texas, and the black symbolizes the oil that fuels the area’s economic engine. These colors are complimented by cardinal and tan.
The Pump Jacks logos were developed by acclaimed sports logo designer Studio Simon. The Louisville, Ky.-based outfit has created identity packages for a number of baseball and sports properties, including the Super Bowl and the Baseball Winter Meetings.
In the near future, the Pump Jacks will finish designing team caps and uniforms, which will then be released to the public. The names of the two characters will also be announced at that time. Beginning next week, the team expects to start announcing players that will make up the inaugural season roster.
The team immediately placed logo T-shirts on sale at the press conference. Fans can choose their favorite character and purchase the logo on a white, ash, or black T-shirt. Shirts cost $15 each and they can be purchased at the organization’s office at 1100 Stone Road, Suite 120 in Kilgore.
Now that the Pump Jacks have a name, even the team’s web site has a new address. Fans that want to learn more about the Pump Jacks can now visit them on the web at www.pumpjacksbaseball.com. Visitors to the team’s first domain, www.newbaseballteam.com, will be directed to the new address. The Pump Jacks are also working hard to develop the team’s complete, comprehensive web site, featuring news, player bios, stats, history, and a host of other interactive features.
The Pump Jacks moniker was not created by the team’s management, but instead it was a product of the “Name Your Team” contest conducted after the franchise’s introduction in January. Six different people suggested the name Pump Jacks, and as a result one winner was randomly chosen from the six submissions. Tami Bolding of Kilgore was selected as the contest winner, which means that she will take home an official Pump Jacks jersey and cap. She’ll also get to enjoy the inaugural season with a pair of season tickets, and she’ll be invited to throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to a Pump Jacks home game this summer.
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