BELOIT — The Beloit Supper Clubbers?
That was the fifth finalist announced Friday by the Beloit Snappers in their quest to find a new nickname for the franchise’s 2021 Midwest League season.
Supper Clubbers follows the previously announced names last week — Cheese Balls, Moo, Polka Pike and Sky Carp — and will no doubt spark another volley of social media protests over the upcoming name change.
Ben Witkins amounts to an unofficial spokesman for fans who hope owner-to-be Quint Studer changes his mind and keeps the Snappers name. Witkins has gone so far as to start an online petition this week to do exactly that and it has over 2,000 signatures.
“I’m just trying to get the word out and see what sort of community support there is to preserve the Snappers name,” Witkins said in a telephone interview.
A Minneapolis resident who grew up in Beloit, Witkins is a web designer for US Bank. He admits he has a longtime affinity for the Snappers.
“Working for the Snappers was my high school job just as it had been my brother’s job,” Witkins said. “I worked the Dip and Dots stand and all sorts of other jobs, including being Snappy.”
Witkins said his family resides in Beloit and he attends some games when he visits. Whether the names changes or not, he plans on continuing to do that. But he won’t let the Snappers name disappear without a fight.
“I’m trying to encourage the powers that be to examine whether there is another alternative they can pursue to boost merchandise sales rather than what I consider the nuclear option,” Witkins said. “Snappers is a great name and so fitting for the community and that’s why I’d like to preserve it if possible. Names like the Moo and Polka Pike are just lazy Wisconsin cliches. The team is an important part of the community and I don’t want it to just have a gimmicky name.”
Witkins said he is among the fans who say disagreeing with the Snappers name change has nothing to do with how grateful they are to Studor and Diane Hendricks for keeping the team in Beloit. Witkins said he also understands when Studer explains the new name will help drive merchandise sales much as it did when the Beloit Brewers became the Snappers in 1995.
“I’m sympathetic to that,” Witkins said. “I think they are doing such a good thing with the team and new stadium and I want to support that, but I am a little taken aback by the quality of the names they are proposing and the abandonment of the old name.”
The team says it considered 1,000 potential names offered up by fans before arriving at last week’s finalists. On Friday, fans were able to start to vote from the final five to help pick the new name.
Snappers won’t go away altogether. The franchise has announced the team will offer special “Snapper Sundays” in which it will break out the old name and mascot Snappy will be on hand.
“Well, it’s better than nothing for sure,” Witkins said. “I won’t be rushing out to buy a Beloit Cheeseballs hat, but I would try to be more cognizant of buying more Snappers merchandise when I’m at a game. I admit I wasn’t aware how important merchandise sales were to the success of a team.”