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New era begins in Hyannis

Initially motivated by trademark issues with Major League Baseball that surfaced two years ago ---- which fueled a desire to create an identity more suitable to their surroundings ---- Hyannis became the third Cape Cod Baseball League franchise to adopt a name change with the unveiling of a new logo on March 21 at its annual “spring training” reception at the Roadhouse Café.

     Gone are the Mets.

     Introducing the Hyannis Harbor Hawks.

     Approximately 80 interested observers were in attendance to get the first look at a logo featuring a determined-looking bird holding a bat and taking a mighty swing at a baseball. Let’s just say this: The bird has attitude. If the collegiate players who wear the orange-and-blue this summer display anything resembling the fierce focus of the hawk in the logo, Hyannis will undoubtedly improve on last season’s 16-26 record.

     The Harbor Hawks join the Orleans Firebirds (formerly the Cardinals) and the Chatham Anglers (formerly the Athletics) in adopting new nicknames as a result of the trademark issue that would have required the teams to purchase souvenir merchandise containing the name or logo from MLB-licensed vendors. Hyannis was ahead of the curve in facing the issue when it removed “Mets” from the front of its jerseys when purchasing new uniforms two years ago. The orange-and-blue color scheme remains, but now only the town name is printed on the front of home and road shirts.

     The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, the Bourne Braves and the Harwich Mariners continue sporting MLB-owned names. The Red Sox, happy sharing a name with the local MLB franchise, are reluctant to make a switch, while the Mariners held their name before MLB’s Seattle franchise was even born in 1977. The Braves have considered a new name, but those plans are on hold following their first-ever Cape League championship last summer.

     The Hyannis announcement was the culmination to a long and occasionally complicated process that involved two naming committees and an adopted name that needed to be abandoned at the last moment. If not for a minor league team in Missoula, Montana that is affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Harbor Hawks would now be the Osprey.

     “But we found out that the minor league team owned that name at the 11th hour, and I do mean the 11th hour,” said Tino DiGiovani, Hyannis Athletic Association president.

     So a second naming committee was formed and “Harbor Hawks,” inspired by the proximity of McKeon Field to Hyannis Harbor along with the summer presence of fish hawks flying overhead, became the choice. DiGiovani then went back to the creative people at Adlife Marketing, the Norwood-based company he owns, and asked them to work on a new logo.

     The new name ----- Hyannis Harbor Hawks ----- rates a thumbs-up on the basis of alliteration alone. More important, it provides the franchise with a distinct identity that accurately reflects its Cape Cod locale. T-shirts emblazoned with the new logo were handed out to those in attendance at the unveiling. It was covered by reporters from three local newspapers.

     Hyannis had been the Mets since joining the league in 1976, but perhaps it wasn’t the most popular affiliation since the infamous 1986 World Series when their New York namesakes beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games.

     Now they’re the Harbor Hawks. New identity. And the beginning of a new era.