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Promotions Watch: Spikes to play “what-if” game this season

The State College Spikes will bring back some of the proposed team nicknames — like the Coalys and the Haymakers — and ask fans to choose a team name other than Spikes, culminating in an August game where the team will take the field with the alternative moniker. Can you imagine marketing a name like the State College Coalys? No, we can't either, which is why we hope it wins.Ever wish you could go back in time five years? The State College Spikes (short season; NY-Penn League) are inviting fans to do just that by turning back the clock to the franchise’s 2005 “Name the Team Contest” — the one that ultimately led to “Spikes” being picked as team nickname — and selecting one of the runner-up choices to have its moment of glory as part of a fun ballpark promotion titled “What If Night” on Friday, August 27.

“What If Night” will explore what a game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park would be like if “Spikes” wasn’t the nickname of State College and Centre County’s first professional sports franchise. To play up the theme of the day, the team will take the field for that night’s game against the Batavia Muckdogs as either the Anglers, Coalys, Furnace or Haymakers, and Spikes fans will again have the power to decide. Between now and Tuesday, June 8, Spikes fans can log on to to vote for which nickname they’d like to see honored on “What If Night” at the ballpark. The winner will be announced during the Spikes’ home game on Friday, June 25.

The winning nickname will be honored with a logo and specially-designed jerseys, which will be worn by the players during the August 27 game and then auctioned off to fans in attendance that night. The Jersey-Off-The-Back auction is presented by Ameriserv Bank and all proceeds from the auction will benefit the Centre County United Way.

The four runner-up choices each honor a different aspect of Central Pennsylvania’s rich history and heritage:

Representing the fishing category, an angler is another name for a fisherman who uses a hook and line. Centre County is dotted with 37 different trout streams, meaning many residents can already call themselves “anglers.”

The name Coalys represents a tale from the early days of Penn State University. Coaly was the name of a legendary mule that helped haul materials in the construction of Old Main and other campus buildings in the mid- and late-1800s. “Old Coaly” became such a favorite of students that he served as the informal university mascot before the adoption of the Nittany Lion in 1904. So great was the University's affection for Old Coaly that after his death in 1893, his skeleton was preserved and is currently on display inside the HUB-Robeson Center on the Penn State campus.

From the rich history of iron production in Centre County comes the name Furnace. The borough of State College is located on land originally part of the land holdings of a community named Centre Furnace, which was established in 1791 by Revolutionary War veterans John Patton and Samuel Miles in an area rich with iron ore.

As a nod to the rich agricultural history of Centre County — and Penn State University itself — comes the name Haymakers, referring to farmers who make hay for the purpose of feeding their livestock. Interestingly enough, Penn State University was established in 1855 by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society as a school for farmers to learn improved crop-growing methods.

During “What If Night,” the Spikes will also give fans a look at how history would have changed had they not been the Spikes for the past five years. Major events of the last half-decade will be recreated and altered throughout the night.

“It’s not too often that we get the chance to roll back our lives five years and get a second chance at choosing something,” said Spikes General Manager Jason Dambach. “While we can’t go back and un-see ‘Snakes on a Plane’ or make Pluto a planet again, this is a fun opportunity for fans to see how things might have been different if the Spikes weren’t the Spikes all this time.”

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