It’s that time of year again. The holidays are here. There’s lots of food, family, and football. For baseball writers this can only mean one thing, the off-season. During baseball season, I’m normally at a game, writing about a game, and/or watching a game which means things like catching up on TV are the furthest from my mind. The off-season for me is a big Netflix binge which is why I was interested when my friends started freaking out when Netflix announced they would put every season of Gilmore Girls online. I never watched that show growing up, a travesty according to my friends, so I decided to give it a shot.
It was while watching Gilmore Girls that I spotted something unusual. Luke Danes was wearing a minor league baseball hat with a logo I didn’t recognize. (Side note: Scott Patterson, the actor that plays Luke Danes, played minor league baseball but that’s a story for another time.)
I’m not claiming to know EVERY single team because there are so many, it would be crazily difficult to remember them all and not leave anyone out. But it sparked an interest to find out what team it was. Thanks to the hat appearing in multiple episodes in Season 7, it was easy to pick out the CD that appears on screen.
The hat belonged to the Connecticut Defenders who were the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees from 1994-2002 and the San Francisco Giants from 2003-2009. The Defenders had some pretty big names come through over the years including Ricky Ledèe, Darryl Strawberry, Alfonso Soriano, Roger Clemens, Pablo Sandoval, Travis Ishikawa, the 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, and Derek Jeter who retired after the 2014 season.
In 2002, the Yankees moved their Double-A affiliate to Trenton and the Defenders became a Giants affiliate. At the end of the 2009 season, the Giants moved to Richmond, Virginia and the team became the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The Associated Press wrote about the move which you can read on the New York Times website here: Norwich Renovates Stadium But Loses Eastern League Team.
Despite the loss of the Defenders, Dodd Stadium wouldn’t sit empty for long. The Oneonta, New York based minor league team moved to Norwich for the 2010 season and became the Connecticut Tigers. The team is the Class A Short Season affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and has remained in Norwich ever since.
Baseball keeps popping up everywhere if you know where to look. And to think I wouldn’t have learned this minor league baseball history lesson if it wasn’t for a man in a hat on a show that hasn’t been on the air since 2007…..