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New for 2009: The Salem Red Sox

How imaginative. The Red Sox are dumping the distinctive Avalanche name and logo in favor of a more pedestrian look.
The Salem Avalanche, a Class-A Advanced Carolina League baseball franchise, today announced that it will bear the name of the 2004 and 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox, and will now be called the Salem Red Sox.

As part of the announcement, team officials unveiled a new logo that features the Red Sox brand and marks including the team’s iconic dangling socks against a backdrop of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountain range, a symbol that is synonymous with the Roanoke Valley. The new uniform will be officially unveiled at a Salem Red Sox fan celebration at the Tanglewood Mall on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Fenway Sports Group, the managing partner for the ownership group that acquired the team in December 2007, recently announced that the Salem baseball franchise signed a player development contract with the Boston Red Sox and now serves as the club’s top Class-A affiliate. The organization has played under the name the Salem Avalanche since 1995 and was most recently affiliated with the Houston Astros.

"We’re thrilled to bring Red Sox Nation and everything associated with it to the Roanoke Valley," said Fenway Sports Group President and Red Sox Chief Operating Officer Mike Dee. "This is not merely a cosmetic change but a change in the organization’s culture. This will be reflected in all aspects of our organization as we deliver on our commitment to field a championship-caliber baseball team, provide an unparalleled fan experience, and operate a franchise that continues to grow deep roots into the community."

This announcement marks the sixth time that the Boston Red Sox will hold an affiliation with a Carolina League team, but only the third time the franchise will bear the Red Sox name. Previous clubs include the Wilmington Blue Rocks (2005-06), the Lynchburg Red Sox (1988-94), the Winston-Salem Red Sox (1961-84), the Raleigh Capitals (1958-60) and the Greensboro Patriots (1953-57).

"The Red Sox brand is one of the strongest in the game of baseball today," said Salem Red Sox General Manager John Katz. "To link the Red Sox name to the Salem franchise further builds on the rich history of hardball in the Roanoke Valley. We look forward to ushering in the next era of Red Sox baseball."

Chad Epperson, who for the past two years managed the Lancaster Jethawks, the Red Sox top-level Single-A affiliate of the California League, will manage the 2009 Salem Red Sox. With a career record of 364-331 (.524), Epperson led his team to a 76-64 record last year and a berth in the California League Championship Series. Epperson was named California League Manager of the Year during each of his two seasons in Lancaster.

Since the current ownership group, led by John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino and Mike Dee took over the Boston Red Sox, the franchise has built a Minor League system that rivals any in Major League Baseball. According to Baseball America, the Boston Red Sox farm system was ranked second in 2008, a dramatic improvement from the system they inherited in 2002, which was ranked 28th at the time.