Fans will get a glimpse of an alternate reality at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Thursday, when the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League) take the field as the Praying Mantis.
The one-game name change is part of What If Night. What-If Nights have become a promotional staple around Minor League Baseball, providing teams with a chance to play under a different moniker for the evening. Typically, What-If Nights are inspired by an unsuccessful choice from a previous name-the-team contest.
That is the case in Hartford, where one of the candidates in a 2015 name-the-team contest was the Praying Mantis, a recognition of the praying mantis’ status as the state insect of Connecticut. Of course, Yard Goats became the team’s name, but for Thursday night the club will embrace the Praying Mantis moniker.
As part of the promotion, the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a Praying Mantis cap. Praying Mantis merchandise will also be for sale, while the team will take the field in a specialty Praying Mantis uniform.
The name-the-team contest in 2015 featured three other choices, including Hedgehogs, River Hogs, and Whirlybirds. Those names give the Yard Goats some options for future What-If Nights, but in the meantime, the club is prepared for a full-blown look at what could have been had it been named Praying Mantis.
Thursday’s game begins at 7:05, with the Praying Mantis taking on the Reading Fightin Phils.
RELATED STORIES: Promotions Watch: What-If Nights