Today, for reasons that were at first very hard to parse, the Grand Junction Rockies, a minor-league team affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, sent out the following aggressive, since-deleted tweets:
As satisfying as it is to read these tweets—in which a minor league baseball team forcefully states for the record that they will not be changing their name to the Chubs—without any context, that is exactly what I am here to provide.
The truth is that these tweets weren’t sent for no reason at all, but in response to the efforts of a local fan named Ian Lummis. For some time now, Ian has been campaigning to get the Grand Junction Rockies to become the Grand Junction Humpback Chubs, in honor of a formerly endangered species of fish native to the Colorado River. Ian’s efforts unfolded quietly at first, but recently gained some steam thanks to an online petition he created, which now has over 250 signatures (and counting) in support of the name change. This seems to have drawn the ire of the Grand Junction Rockies, which made them not only send today’s tweets, but block anyone on Twitter, including Ian, who has raised the idea of changing the team’s name to the Humpback Chubs.
I reached out to Ian this afternoon to ask him some questions about how and why he started this campaign, what fascinates him about the Humpback Chub, and how he’s dealing with the blowback from the team. Ian was both thoughtful and gracious in his answers, and left me firmly believing that the Grand Junction Rockies should become the Grand Junction Humpback Chubs as soon as possible. The following Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity.
Deadspin: What first motivated you to begin your campaign to convince the Grand Junction Rockies to change their name to the Grand Junction Humpback Chubs?
Lummis: Last August, I came across a list of crazy MiLB team names. I immediately thought of how my hometown’s rookie league team, the Grand Junction Rockies, were missing out on this great tradition. Before relocating to Grand Junction, they had been known as the Casper Ghosts, so clearly there was some level of creativity in the team. What, I wondered, was the cause of this blandness upon relocation. Did the purple mountains really posses that much majesty? Was Grand Junction, a town generally looked down upon by Front Rangers, just too boring for a unique name? Did we really lack anything worthy of naming a team?
Colorado sports teams are often named for the state’s natural features, so I considered these first. Grand Junction lies more in the desert, so Rockies never really represented them well. I discussed names with some friends, with whom I was working security at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, including Monuments, Mesas, Garfields, as well as the Colorado Rivers and Colorado Plateaus. Realizing that none of these could really compete with other Rockies affiliate names, including the Hartford Yard Goats and Albuquerque Isotopes, I turned to the local fauna. Really the only unique creatures in the Grand Valley are the native Colorado River fish. Species of these include the Colorado Pikeminnow, Razorback Sucker, and the Bonytail and Humpback Chubs. I knew that Humpback Chubs would be a perfect name for a baseball team as well as a great logo.
I mentioned this idea to several of my friends and family, all of whom thought it would be great for our local team, but didn’t take much action otherwise until February.
Deadspin: How did you first go about presenting your idea to the team, and what was their initial response?
Lummis: The first time I reached out to the team was on Valentine’s Day, when people on Twitter once again noticed that the team has a logo that is identical to Pizza Hut’s logo. I tweeted that they should become the GJ Humpback Chubs instead. Their first and only response to me was along the lines of, “No thanks we like twinning with dad.” I left them alone again until April.
Deadspin: I see that you and others have been blocked by the GJ Rockies Twitter account for participating in this campaign. How did that make you feel?
Lummis: In May, the Colorado Rockies did a Twitter contest that was a giveaway of Hartford Yard Goats hats. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity, I again tweeted that it would be cool if the GJ Rockies were the Humpback Chubs and had hats to give away. This is when they blocked me. I honestly was pretty excited about being blocked. I tweeted a screenshot of it and that was when my friends started to tweet at the team and also get blocked. I was a bit annoyed that the team resorted to blocking people instead of interacting with us about the name but I did enjoy the fact that the fact they blocked people seemed to increase the amount people mentioned it to them.
Deadspin: In one of their tweets, the GJ Rockies claimed that the word “chub” is a slang term for an erection. Do you think this demonstrates their total lack or respect for wildlife, and the Humpback Chub in particular?
Lummis: Not only does the Grand Junction Rockies conflating a fish name for an erection demonstrate a total lack of respect for our native, formerly endangered fish, but also just a lack of understanding of the history of our region. I think people in the town are generally aware of our historical fish and the effort spent by the Department of Wildlife to reintroduce the species. The fact that the GJ Rockies seem to think that a fish that has fought back from the brink of extinction is simply there to troll them with penis jokes shows that they are both humorless and ambition-less. They should see the resilience of the Humpback Chub as an inspiration both on the field and in the merchandise shop, as I think I am correct in saying that people would purchase Chubs gear at a much higher rate than the current purple Pizza Hut logo.
Deadspin: What is your favorite thing about the Humpback Chub?
Lummis: My favorite thing about the Humpback Chub is of course its immense hump. I am not sure about the function of this hump, but seeing as the fish resides in the desert southwest I assume it serves a similar purpose to the camel’s hump. Also I like that the chub appears to always be either slightly grumpy or confused, which I think gives it the ideal demeanor to manage a baseball team.
Deadspin: Will the GJ Rockies’ tweets from today deter your campaign in any way?
Lummis: I think the GJ Rockies tweets today were the best thing that could’ve happened with our campaign. A minor league baseball team getting national attention for tweeting, “PLEASE DON’T TWEET ANY MORE FISH OR DICK PICS AT US” is exactly what I love seeing on Twitter. I am also super excited about the attention we are getting. I hope the team eventually realizes that they could either fight it or embrace it and quite possibly become America’s Rookie League team.
Deadspin: Do you consider yourself a fan of the GJ Rockies, or the Colorado Rockies organization as a whole? If so, how has this ordeal affected your fandom?
Lummis: I am a lifelong Colorado Rockies fan. I was excited when Grand Junction received a minor league team, but I have always been a little bit disappointed that they didn’t try anything unique. I love going to the games and think they a great addition to Grand Junction. However, I believe that by only embracing our native son, the Humpback Chub, can I or anyone else, truly love the team.
Deadspin: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Lummis: I guess the only other thing I would like to do is plug our petition. I hope baseball fans and fish fans alike can unite around the Humpback Chubs!