Any resemblance would be hard for all but the most die-hard Orioles fans to notice. But it's there.
The new Aberdeen IronBirds logo, unveiled Monday, was inspired by a furious, bat-wielding Orioles bird mascot introduced after the 1967 season. Billy Ripken, who turned 3 years old that year, remembered it well when he began thinking about refreshing the IronBirds logo.
"He was mean-looking," Ripken said. "He had a bat in his hand and a had a little lean forward."
That bird's menacing look combined with inspiration from the recent Iron Man movies — since Ripken and his brother Cal, baseball's ironman, run the team together — form a slick new character that the duo hopes will continue to draw young baseball fans to games.
"You do want to appeal to the younger fans," Cal Ripken said.
The new bird's piercing eyes stare ahead, while his metal wings spread wide and his talons prepare for landing. The serious look deviates from recent logos unveiled by two Pennsylvania baseball teams, the Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Reading Fightin Phils.
"There's really been a trend toward the minor league-ish, and I'm thankful that they went the opposite direction here," said Chris Creamer, who has run a website dedicated to sports logos since 1997. "The cartoons were getting old."
Eight minor league baseball teams have introduced new logos this offseason, Creamer said, which is in line with recent years. Teams are eager to create new buzz — and merchandise — by tweaking designs, he said.
"I haven't really seen any fan fatigue when it comes to the new logos and having to buy new gear," he said. "With the minor leagues, it's really about the experience and a lot goes into that."
Aberdeen's first logo, a smiling fighter jet, lasted 11 seasons. But as the Ripkens continue learning the business side of baseball, they felt a new direction was needed. Bill Ripken took the lead on the project, reviewing dozens of options before making a final selection.
Shirts and hats showing the new logo went on sale at the IronBirds website Monday.