Baseball fans in Connecticut have helped the Hartford Yard Goats become one of the most popular brands in minor league baseball. Over the last six years, "Yard Goats" has become a household name, but it wasn't that long ago that the club needed a name when moving from New Britain to Hartford.
"We did a name the team contest and let fans submit what they thought the team should be for about two weeks," said Yard Goats President Tim Restall. "We got about 6,000 submissions."
"I've always had an interest in sports logos, uniforms and nicknames," said Anthony Castora, a teacher from New Jersey and UConn graduate who decided to enter the contest. "My father-in-law is a big train buff. He gave me a glossary of terms on a website. For whatever reason I started at the end of the alphabet and Yard Goats came up. You've got to have your own identity, so I said let's go with Yard Goats. It sounds catchy and the kids will like it. I had no expectations of winning, none whatsoever."
"Who doesn't love goats?" said Restall. "Come to find out it's a small train that works in a train yard getting all of the cars in line and with Hartford's rich history on trains, it made sense."
Castora's entry came in with just a couple of days remaining in the contest and it made the club change its course.
"We were already in logo design with the Whirlybirds," said Restall. "Whirlybirds was going to be the name and what we did is we ended up putting that on hold, started working on the goat and what you see is what we ended up with."
Seeing what the popularity of the Yard Goats brand six years later is unlike anything Castora envisioned.
"I never would have believed it would blow up this much," said Castora.
As the winner of the contest, Castora has season tickets for life. If it wasn't generous enough to give the team its name, Anthony continues to give back to the Hartford community through those tickets.
"I've worked it out with the team where if they can use them for local charities, whether it be student of the month, things like that and just for the team to use them how they see fit," said Castora.
Whether it's your first time at Dunkin Donuts Park or you've been coming since the beginning, the club is proud of the gameday experience and everything the Yard Goats brand has come to represent.
"At the end of it, we're just here to put a smile on people's face so with the merchandise and the logos, it really works out well," said Restall.
"It fits them perfectly," added Chelsea Ofsuryk from East Granby. "I can't imagine them being called some of those other things."