GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Let’s get this out of the way: the Humpback Chub is an actual federally-protected endangered fish native to the Colorado River that is apparently very special to some members of the Western Slope community.
So special, in fact, that one guy named Ian Lummis started a Change.org petition aimed at getting the minor league Grand Junction Rockies to rename themselves after this fish, which he said was recently reestablished in the Grand Valley by the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.
“Minor League Baseball is beloved for its unique team names and mascots that reflect their local communities,” the petition reads. “The Colorado Rockies have affiliates that include names such as the Albuquerque Isotopes, Lancaster JetHawks and Hartford Yard Goats. Unfortunately our local team has the same name as the parent organization, even though it represents a community featuring a unique setting and history.”
However, it appears the Grand Junction Rockies disagreed and saw something … a little bit different than a scaleless endangered fish with a hump...when it heard the proposed new name.
One thing is clear: At least one person in the minor league baseball organization did not, immediately, think of the plight of a rare member of the minnow family when it heard the words “Humpback Chub.”
They responded to Lummis’ cause in two now-deleted tweets that have since gotten the internet's attention. Those were posted on Thursday morning—and have since propelled the Rocky Mountain Chubs into trending status.
“The GJ Rockies are not considering changing their name and never have. We are owned by a group led by the Colorado Rockies and having a team on the west slope helps build their brand. Suggesting we would be called the GJ “Chubs” is offensive and a slang sexual term for erection,” the first tweet reads.
“The GJ Rockies pride ourselves on providing fun family entertainment and suggesting inappropriate name changes will not be tolerated. Anyone continues to suggest the GJ “Chubs” in any way will be blocked from our account.”
The petition had fewer than 200 signatures before the Grand Junction Rockies mentioned it. It now has more than 2,300.
Lummis, in a phone interview with 9NEWS, said he was optimistic about the name change despite the response.
"Because before the Grand Junction Rockies were in Grand Junction, they were in Casper and called the Casper, and they were the Casper Rockies, and they changed their name to the Casper Ghosts," he said.
It’s worth mentioning that Lummis, who has 121 followers, said he was blocked by the Grand Junction Rockies back in May.
He had been tweeting at the team for a while – including in February when he was responding to a tweet that rightfully mentioned the current Grand Junction Rockies logo kind of looks like a stand-alone Pizza Hut that had been turned into something else.
"I barely use [Twitter] unless I'm tweeting at the Rockies," Lummis said. "Unless you're one of my friends, you probably saw [the Grand Junction Rockies] tweet and thought it was out of the blue and insane."
A new GJ Humpback Chubs Twitter account has some sample new logos, in the very, very unlikely event the name change actually happens.
Lummis said he and his friends plan on making t-shirts and hopefully using some of the proceeds for Humpback Chubs conservation.
"It's such a funny name," he said. "It's perfect for a minor league team. It's a funny looking fish."
As of this writing, someone had edited the Grand Junction Rockies’ Wikipedia page to mention the Chubs. Here’s what it looks like on Google:
The Grand Junction Rockies haven’t mentioned the Chubs movement since the deleted tweets.
They are, however, having a wine glass giveaway on Saturday, which sounds utterly delightful.
Lummis said he hopes the Grand Junction Rockies have least benefited from the notoriety the Humpback Chubs movement has gained.
"Even if they did a one-night Humpback Chub night I'd be super cool about it," he said.
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