When the Single-A Yakima Bears moved in to fill the void in Portland, OR for professional baseball, the owners knew that with the larger market, rebranding would be a part of the equation. A new ballpark, a larger metro area, all offered opportunity for a new look. The idea of “tapping” into something of a trademark for Portland seemed a logical choice.
So when Short Season LLC, the owners of the club, came up with the name the Hillsboro Hops, they had to know they were hitting on something very “Portland” in the craft beer craze (CNN ranked Portland as the #1 beer city in the US). The question was always, how could their merchandise tie into it?
Starting with their mascot, Barley, who was recently voted the Northwest League’s Best Mascot, it all made sense… Balls “hop”, hops are used to make beer, as is barley.
It would be one thing if the marketing was a local or regional sensation. But according to sources, the Hillsboro Hops have the best online merchandise sales—not in just the Northwest League—but all of Minor League Baseball. While numbers weren’t provided, to achieve that mark is a sign that the logo resonates with fans, as does the idea of craft beer. After all, baseball, hot dogs, and yes, beer, are a timeless tradition. The Hops just seem to be happy to run the keg dry at this point.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter