PORT ANGELES — The newest baseball team in the West Coast League will take the field next summer as the Port Angeles Lefties.
The mascot? An Olympic marmot.
Team officials unveiled the nickname at a Thursday event hosted by the Clallam County Economic Development Corp. and the Port Angeles Downtown Association.
“As a left-hander, I think that’s an inspired choice,” Mayor Patrick Downie said.
Lefties co-owner Matt Acker said the name and mascot will tell a story about the game.
“It is hard to name a baseball team and not have Major League Baseball step on you,” Acker added.
Team officials wanted to name the squad after the Olympic marmot, but the licensing fees to the Marmot outdoor clothing company were too costly.
“We just will not print the word marmot on our uniform,” Acker told a crowd of about 80 at the Vern Burton Community Center.
“It will be great for kids to see out there.”
An official logo is still in development, team co-owner Dean Reynolds said. The Lefties’ colors are surf blue, sunset orange and metallic silver.
The West Coast League is a wooden bat league where college athletes from major conferences hone their skills over the summer.
The league has helped produce more than 200 major leaguers and had 85 prospects in this year’s draft.
“I hope that you will cheer for and support the young men who themselves hope that one day they will put on a major league uniform,” said Downie, a longtime baseball fan.
“I hope we can get ready to come together at Civic Field next year to spend some time together at the ballpark with our friends and families, to eat a hot dog or hamburger, to cheer for the home team and to build a very special place and build special memories in this community thanks to the Port Angeles Lefties.”
Representatives of the Victoria HarbourCats and Cowlitz Black Bears were on hand to welcome the Port Angeles franchise to the West Coast League, which has 11 teams from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.
“We’re going to develop a rivalry,” HarbourCats co-owner Jim Swanson said.
“We’re going to develop a rivalry because of our communities, because of our proximity, because we share this beautiful sound of a horn whenever the Coho ferry is moving somewhere.”
The sound of the Coho ferry horn is played when the home team scores at Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park, which leads the West Coast League in attendance. The average attendance for the league is 1,132.
“There are nights when you watch our games and you might as well put our guys into Mariners and Oakland A’s uniforms and put them in Safeco Field and you might not know the difference,” Swanson said.
A Bellingham pitcher’s fastball was clocked at 98 mph at a Victoria game this summer, and it wasn’t an aberration, Swanson said.
“It’s not like we had one guy throwing 90-plus miles an hour,” Swanson said.
“It happened every night at our ballpark this year.”
The Lefties will be coached by Zach Miller, who played collegiate baseball at Green River Community College, Washington State University and Western Oregon University. He spent his summers with the Kitsap Bluejackets and Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League.
“Zach played for me a number of years ago,” Acker said.
“He could launch a baseball.”
Miller has been the head coach at Independence, Ore.’s Central High School for the past five years. He has a cousin working in law enforcement in Sequim.
“I know that he will do a phenomenal job,” Acker said.
Acker teamed with Reynolds to form MACK Athletics and brought Next Door Gastropub owner Jake Oppelt into the Lefties ownership group.
He said the league owners, particularly in Victoria, had been “great for us to work with.”
“Yes, we’re competing on the field,” Acker said.
”Yes, we want to beat each other very bad. But when it comes to the business side and the community side, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the folks in the West Coast League.”
Acker said the Lefties will be committed to the youths of Clallam County by hosting camps and making players available to kids.
“We will never turn away any kid from any camp that we do for lack of money,” Acker said, drawing applause.
“We will find sponsors. We’ll find whatever we need to do. And if we can’t, the kid still goes.”
Single-game tickets for the Lefties will start at $5 for general admission.
Civic Field will have a beer deck for Lefties games off left field.
A complete list of ticket prices and sponsorship options — and information for potential host families — is available on the Lefties’ website, www.leftiesbaseball.com.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at email@example.com.