Macon baseball team owner describes what fans can expect in inaugural season
I have been tempted to weigh in on the Macon Bacon for several weeks now, but I put it on the back burner.
Every time I sat down to write, it made me hungry. I wanted to head straight for the kitchen and make a BLT.
Sports teams used to be content as Tigers, Bulldogs, Cowboys and Indians. Somewhere along the way, creativity and marketing took hold. Nobody wanted to settle for being plain Trojans or ho-hum Hawks. The more unique and clever the mascot, the better.
The Macon Bacon is our new baseball team, and the city’s first edible nickname since the Macon Peaches.
The front office held a fan contest to name the team, and I’m sure most of the nearly 1,500 folks who submitted names thumbed through a dictionary of rhymes and alliteration.
The winning entry was a headline writer’s dream. (Bacon bats on a hot streak. Bacon hosts Pensacola on Fry-day.)
The team has been waging a friendly food fight on social media with the Savannah Bananas, so this could be fun rivalry in the Coastal Plain League.
The Hunger Games. Potassium vs. Sodium Nitrate. The possibilities are as endless as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The Bananas issued a statement, claiming the franchise “will not tolerate the Macon Bacon.’’ An official protest video was released, urging fans to #StopThe Sizzle. (I’ll have an order of hash browns with that hashtag.)
To add to the amusement, the fourth annual Savannah Bacon Festival – I’m not making this up – was held on River Street last month.
The Macon Bacon will find a home in a league that boasts the Fayetteville Swampdogs, Asheboro Copperheads and Holly Springs Salamanders.
They also will earn some style points in a city with a championship hockey team known as the Macon Mayhem and a defunct rugby team that called itself Macon Love.
Of course, we set the bar high with the beloved Macon Whoopees, a nickname Sports Illustrated magazine once hailed as among of the all-time classics.
I am somewhat of an authority on that short-lived hockey team, which played its inaugural game 44 years ago last week (Oct. 12, 1973). I co-wrote a book, “Once Upon a Whoopee,” with Bill Buckley 19 years ago.
The Whoopees were the brainchild of the late Gerald Pinkerton, an Atlanta stock broker working in the New York financial world.
Pinkerton asked Bob Fierro, a Madison Avenue public relations guru, to suggest a name for a hockey team in Macon.
Without hesitation, Fierro blurted out the Macon Whoopees. He had no idea Pinkerton’s favorite song was Doris Day’s 1951 recording of “Makin’ Whoopee,’’ with Danny Thomas in the movie, “I’ll See You in My Dreams.’’
Before Pinkerton went full-throttle on a name that would become part of local sports folklore, he sought the suggestions of a couple of other folks.
A man named Pete Pesce, a maitre’d of a New York bar frequented by pro athletes and sports media personalities, jokingly told him he should call the team the Macon Eggs.
Pinkerton sought the advice of Tim Ryan, a hockey play-by-play announcer who spent more than 50 years in sports broadcasting with NBC, CBS and ESPN. Ryan also suggested the Macon Eggs.
When Pinkerton responded by name-dropping the Macon Whoopees, Ryan was intrigued.
“You do that, and I’ll announce your scores on national television,’’ he said. “I’ll make you the Slippery Rock of professional hockey.’’
The rest, they say, is history. Still, the back story is fun to re-visit.
What if there really had been a Macon Eggs before the Macon Bacon?
A breakfast of champions.
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism and creative writing at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.