Mooresville has struck out.
The area’s final and long-time lingering turn at-bat in regards to maintaining a close-knit connection to the area’s closest professional baseball organization has finally come to a close.
The formerly-named Kannapolis Intimidators, a Class A Minor League Baseball franchise housed out of the first-name town, officially severed the last remaining tie that binds it together with Mooresville during a new-naming ceremony held earlier this month.
The team previously known as the Intimidators, often shortened to just I’s during various references as well, were so identified in recognition of then Mooresville resident Dale Earnhardt when the latter’s family purchased a partial ownership interest in the outfit. Until that time, the professional entry played under the Piedmont Boll Weevils nickname that was in place from the organization’s opening existence.
Members of the Earnhardt family were on hand at the time of the ownership announcement. It was also at that time when the team made its Intimidators nickname official. It was in tribute to the same tag the now late Earnhardt often donned when describing his style of professional race car driving. The name stuck until earlier this month.
Nowadays, and following a much-publicized renaming process that invited all followers of the organization to submit their nominations for a new team name that will also coincide with the beginning of play in a new playing facility in downtown Kannapolis, the team will be known as the “Cannon Ballers.”
It officially breaks the existing life line in place between the team and the Mooresville area.
Not all aware of the name change were in full agreement of the decision. Mooresville’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among the ones most disappointed. In a previous tweet, Earnhardt Jr. recalled fond memories of the team’s former name, detailing how proud his dad was of the nickname. “What a shame it has to come to an end,” was part of Earnhardt Jr.’s message.
Earnhardt Jr. even went so far as to offer his own new name suggestion He tossed the “Ironheads” into the hat in another one of the names used to reference the elder Earnhardt’s legacy.
The late Earnhardt was killed in a car crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500 in February 2001. Earnhardt Jr. is also now retired from professional race car driving after being selected by fans as NASCAR’s most popular driver multiple times during his career.
Kannapolis franchise officials revealed that the team did not own and therefore could not continue to market its product through the Intimidators nickname. That was one of the main reasons behind making the roster change. There remains a slight hint of a connection in place due to the fact that the team’s new Cannon Ballers hat contains a No. 3 within its logo. That’s the car number that Kannapolis native Earnhardt made famous during his racing career.
The new playing site also features somewhat of an area-based tie as well. The Dale Earnhardt Plaza, recognized on the Visit North Carolina online website, is in place in K-Town’s downtown within a home run’s distance of the organization’s new playing digs and features a 9-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of Earnhardt as the centerpiece.
In baseball-speak, however, Mooresville has made its final out.