Iconic American traditions: Pie, Cars, and Baseball! Northwest Ohio boasts to have one of the most famous Minor League Baseball team: the Toledo Mud Hens. The popularity took a while to grow and it came with a little help from a well-known TV show.
How did you get that unique name?
Mud Hens was not the first name, nor the only name, Toledo went by.
In 1883, Toledo's team was originally called Toledo Swamp Angels until purchased by Charles Strobel. The team adopted the Mud hen as their mascot because Bay View Park, where they played, neighbored a swamp where large amounts of Mud hens resided. Toledo Mudhen's name was then established in 1896. By 1902 the Mud Hens joined the American Association where they stayed up until 1955. In this time, the Toledo Mud Hens would have troubles in ranking that resulted in issues of people attending games. With very few fans, the team was bought by Milwaukee Braves, changed their name to Toledo Sox, then moved out of Toledo.
It wasn't until 1965 that Toledo attained a new team and kept the former Mud Hens name. At this time, Toledo Mud Hens joined the minor league International League that became the Triple-A ball club affiliated to the Detroit Tigers. Like the former team, the new Mud Hens were challenged with creating a crowd in the stadium.
From one fanatic to another, popularity boomed
Though the team may not have had many fans, they had 1 huge fan that would help change their popularity. Jamie Farr was a Toledo native who had a favorite past-time of watching the Toledo Mud Hens play through holes in fences. When Mr. Farr went into Hollywood and was cast for a minor role in a huge show, Farr was encouraged to make his character as real as possible, bringing his love of minor league baseball on set. What was the name of this TV show? M*A*S*H, of course! A show set during the Korean War and a soldier, Max Klinger, who wanted to go home. Gene Cook, '79-'98 General Manager of Toledo Mud Hens, was watching M*A*S*H and saw a golden opportunity for free publicity. Mr. Cook started sending Farr Korean War-era uniforms to wear on the show. From that point on, the Toledo Mud Hens had the attention of America and the team's fan base grew quickly.
Today, the Mud Hens have kept the recognition alive, maintained a fan base, and sells out seats in their Fifth Third Field. In the 2021 season, as of date, The Toledo Mud Hens are 2nd in Triple-A East - Midwest Division. Not too shabby from struggling to be in the bottom to make great strides for the Triple-A National Championship on October 3rd.