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September 5, 2002

Team President Throws Isotopes Name Into Play

By Dennis Latta
Journal Staff Writer
    Call it a home run for Homer Simpson. Ken Young, president of Albuquerque Baseball Inc., admits he isn't quite certain what an "isotope" is but that's the name of Albuquerque's new Triple A baseball team based on an episode of The Simpsons.
   "We wanted to be something that was fun and playful," Young said when making the announcement Wednesday.
   While the team name might have a connection within the nuclear industry, Young admits it actually comes from the Fox Network animated show "The Simpsons."
   In an episode titled "Hungry, Hungry Homer," the mayor of Albuquerque tries to steal the Springfield Isotopes away, and Homer goes on a hunger strike to save the team.
   "There are a lot of things we still need to work out with Fox," Young said. "We want to use their characters. We know their creators and writers have been receptive. We need to talk to them."
   While expressing respect for the Dukes heritage, Young said, "The stadium is new, the team is new. We felt a new name was important."
   For 29 seasons, the Albuquerque Dukes were the top Los Angeles Dodgers farm club. But two years ago, Albuquerque lost its Triple-A franchise to Portland, Ore.
   The Pacific Coast League franchise from Calgary, Alberta, is moving to Albuquerque, and the new team will be affiliated with the Florida Marlins.
   The team's first home game will be April 11.
   Of the Dukes name, Young added, "There were people in the community who wanted that. We just felt that Isotopes was the way to go."
   Young unveiled the team logo, which is an A being orbited by a revolving baseball and other atomic particles.
   "That is our primary logo, which you'll see on the front of our hats. We're still trying to determine what will be on the front of our uniforms," Young said.
   Team colors are red and yellow on a black background.
   "The red and yellow colors are reminiscent of the Dukes colors, and it is a great way to bridge the two teams," Young said.
   Young, while admitting the name originated with the Simpsons episode, reeled off a boilerplate definition of isotope at Wednesday's news conference. Webster's Dictionary says an isotope is one of two or more forms of an element with the same or similar chemical properties and the same atomic number, but different atomic weights.
   The Isotopes expect to start selling T-shirts and polo shirts with the new logos Monday through a Web site, by phone and at some stores in the area. Hats won't be available for several weeks.
   General manager Mel Kowalchuk said season ticket sales are going well but didn't know a number.
    "We've had interest on 17 (out of 30) of the suites," he said, acknowledging that deals haven't been sealed. Suites, which seat 12 on an outside porch, cost more than $20,000 a year, depending on how many years are on the contract.
   The new franchise also got its Web site up and running Wednesday at www.albuquerquebaseball.com. "I think we'll stay albuquerquebaseball," Young said. "We wanted to wait until we announced the name to decide on that."
   The names abqisotopes and albuquerqueisotopes have been registered by people wanting to sell them to the team.