By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Bienvenue, Chatham-Kent Blackbirds.
The official name of the new Intercounty Baseball League team was unveiled Friday, amid a smiling crowd at the Red Barn Brewing Company.
The winning name was chosen following from some 600 entries in a municipal-wide Name That Team contest.
Caress-Lee Carpenter, Brandon Leonard, Brett Mill, L. Brown and a mystery man named “Uncle Jarod”all submitted the same name for the winner.
The four runner-up monikers submittted included the Chatham-Kent North Stars, Legends, Wheat Kings and Field Kings. All will receive tickets to the inaugural 2024 home opener at Fergie Jenkins Field. “Uncle Jarrod,” one of the five, snagged a family season ticket pass in a draw by Red Barn’s Denny Vervaet.
Team owner Dom Dinelle is happy with the name, saying it relates to the “whole community,” both urban and rural.
“You’ve got those birds all over the place,” Dinelle said. “The whole community is relating to it. It’s cool, it’s a bird like the Jays, so we can have a great mascot. The kids will love it, the family will love it, we will love it.
“I think the bird will be really fun.”
Management said the Blackbirds concept was adopted due to the bird’s prominence in Chatham-Kent and crow-related names were a popular theme in the online contest. With a nod to C-K’s feathered friends, the executive believes the name will foster a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
“We want this to be a team for the whole community of C-K,” Dinelle added. “We now have an identity. And now the real work begins.”
Friday marked another big announcement for the team, with Harry Muir being named as the Blackbirds’ general manager. The London resident spent four years with the Toronto Blue Jays in their minor league system in the 1990s. He also etched his name in the record books by becoming the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in international play.
Muir won a gold medal representing Team Ontario at the Canadian Nationals in 1990 and was invited to join Team Canada for the World Junior Championships, where in Cuba he pitched the historic no-hitter.
Dinelle, who hails from Trois Rivieres Que., made the connection with Muir when they were both part of the London Majors coaching staff in 2006.
The team’s first fundraiser was also announced Friday. In conjunction with Red Barn Brewing, a special stand-up comedy night will be held at the venue April 6, featuring comic Scott Falconbridge.
The Blackbirds corporate sales team was also announced. Led by Mark Jackson, sales manager and executive assistant to the president; it includes Allan Cameron of Dresden, Anthony Clark of Sarnia, Laura Kalika of Merlin, Gregg Ross of Ridgetown and Matthew Speed of West Lorne.
Victory Ford and Victory Lincoln in Chatham were named as the team’s first corporate sponsor, and well-known radio host Jay Smith was named as the club’s vice-president, executive of media relations and marketing director.
An official mascot and logo are expected to be unveiled in the spring.
For more information or to inquire about becoming a sponsor, follow the Chatham-Kent Blackbirds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @iblchatham.