By Ryan Hoover
Jackson baseball fans will not be chanting “Jaxx! Jaxx! Jaxx!” next season, but instead will have to become familiar with the organization’s latest modifications, including the new team name, the Jackson Generals. After the 2010 season and a first-round elimination from the Southern League playoffs, the Generals renewed their player developmental contract with the Seattle Mariners and revealed their new logo, which features a Bulldog chomping on a bat.
Although the Jackson Generals may be new to most, it is not new to the Jackson area. From 1938–1952, the Jackson Generals were a D-level minor league team that fielded future baseball superstars Yogi Berra, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Casey Stengel, Edd Roush and Tony Kubek, among others. Tom Hanson, general manager for the organization, said he is excited about the new brand and the spark it could provide to the Jackson community.
“Most people aren’t aware of the rich history of baseball in Jackson and western Tennessee,” Hanson said. “We’ve set some attendance records for the season just since the announcement and we haven’t even revealed the new brand yet.”
During the 2010 season, Pringles Park barely averaged 1,800 fans per game, as Jackson is home to the second smallest market in all of the minors. With ticket sales down, Chris Harris, manager of media relations and broadcasting, is always looking for ways to inspire more fans to attend games.
Throughout the year, the Jackson Generals will offer several promotion events focused toward Union students, including “Union Night” at Pringles Park. Students may purchase tickets at a discounted price and enjoy activities on the field before the game and in the concourse during the game.
Another cheap event option is “Dollar Night,” in which tickets and select concession items are all $1. During the off-season, the Jackson Generals are having a naming contest in the Jackson Sun newspaper to name the Bulldog mascot featured on the new logo. While Union fans are familiar with “Buster,” the Generals will be looking for originality and creativity for the name of their hard-nosed pup.
Before the Diamond Jaxx era was complete, the team had success in its last season. The Jaxx were one of Seattle’s six minor-league teams to make the playoffs, despite consistently losing players to other teams in the organization. Harris noted the team faced what he called the “minor-league plague.”
“We had a great hitting season with the league leaders in both home runs and RBIs,” Harris said. “We just ran out of pitching in the playoffs because many of our pitchers were called up to AAA-Tacoma (Wash.) or to Seattle.”
Another notable achievement was accomplished in one of the final games of the season. Super-utility man Leury Bonilla played all nine positions in one game, ending on the mound to close out an 8–0 victory against the Chattanooga Lookouts.
In a sentimental and symbolic ceremony, Jane Des Ormeaux, a 93-year-old season ticket holder and creator of the Diamond Jaxx nickname, threw out the last pitch of the Diamond Jaxx era. To inaugurate the Generals’ future, Walt Mestan, a local businessman and former pitcher of the original Jackson Generals, threw out the first pitch.