I recently urged Wichita residents to find a weird and wonderful name for our Triple-A baseball team, which will take the field at a new downtown stadium next spring, and Jim Brewer e-mailed what I believe is a winner:
“Flying Monkeys,” he wrote.
Brewer, a Wichita Heights High School graduate who works as an attorney in Corvallis, Oregon, says he was thinking about ways Wichita might capitalize on its nationwide image. One of the most prevalent, as we all know, is our connection to Kansas farm girl Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz.”
“The jokes about Kansas are always from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and I know a lot of people push back against that,” Brewer said. “But why not use it? Embrace it.
“Because think about it: There’s not a person in the country who wouldn’t want a Wichita Flying Monkeys shirt or ball cap.”
Everyone remembers the winged creatures who swarmed out of the Wicked Witch’s castle to fetch Dorothy and her ruby slippers. They attacked the Tin Man and grabbed Toto and stomped the stuffing out of the Scarecrow.
Nightmarish? Sure. But that could intimidate our Pacific Coast League opponents — innocent, mellow-sounding teams such as the Reno Aces, the Memphis Redbirds, the Iowa Cubs and the El Paso Chihuahuas. (OK, I guess chihuahuas can be vicious.)
The Wichita Flying Monkeys — Air Capital Flying Monkeys? Emerald City Flying Monkeys? — could go creepy or cute with a logo and mascot. The airborne character would be a subtle nod to the city’s aviation history as well as a reference to the “Wizard of Oz.”
Brewer, 60, noted that Flying Monkeys isn’t an original idea. A quick search turns up a Facebook page for the Wichita Fire Flying Monkeys hockey team, an amateur club made up of firefighters from the Wichita, Derby and Sedgwick County fire departments and paramedics from Sedgwick County EMS.
Not sure what that means for naming rights or trademarking, but “this is the right name at the right time,” Brewer said.
After the Rocket City Trash Pandas of Madison, Alabama, announced their original and adorable raccoon logo last fall, the club began smashing merchandise sales records. Last month the team expanded its storefront, citing global interest.
Flying Monkeys could have similar appeal. Imagine a player hitting a pitch over the outfield fence, and the loudspeakers blasting screaming monkeys — or Dorothy repeating “There’s no place like home” — as he rounds the bases.
The trick would be persuading folks here to embrace rather than renounce the “Wizard of Oz” connection. Or to think about it, at least.
“Now fly! Fly!”