The Charlotte Observer
THE NAME GAME: 20,0000 PROPOSED FOR GRID TEAM
It's a Zoomer, it's a Vampire, it's a Twin-City Bell. It's a Panda, it's a Jewel, it's a Great Dame.
It's a possibility that the Charlotte entry in the World Football League could be called by one of those names when it challenges Memphis Wednesday in its first home game of the season at Memorial Stadium.
The new team - formerly the New York Stars - needs a new name. So the team's vice president, Upton Bell, went to the fans for advice. Which he is getting, perhaps more than he dreamed of.
Notice of the contest appeared in last Sunday's Observer. By noon Wednesday more than 5,000 pieces of mail with nearly 20,000 names had been collected by The Observer.
The letters and postcards came from both Carolinas and include suggestions for team colors, emblems, mottos, nicknames and even included illustrations.
The fans, competing for free tickets to the team's four remaining home games, didn't waste postage. Most of the envelopes included more than one name, like the one from Charlotte's Steven Harris which had 27 names. Or the large manila envelope from the ninth grade physical education from the ninth grade physical education class at Quail Hollow Junior High which contained 125 suggestion on 3-by-5 cards.
In a random sampling by The Observer of 403 names, each letter of the alphabet was used as a first letter at least once - except U and X.
Animals were probably the most consistent suggestions. Badgers, beavers, centaurs, cobras, condors, dragons, devilfish, eagles, grizzles, jaguars, leopards, mustangs, owls, pandas, panthers, shrike, stallions, stingrays, squirrels, shellfish, sharks, spiders, vespers, vampires, vipers, vultures, wasps, and wolverines were nominated.
More than 90 nicknames begin with the letter "C" offering such a nice range of alliterations like Charlotte Chevrons, Champs, Chariots, Choppers and Chancellors and Cudzoo. Perhaps the writer meant kudzu, a cling vine of China and Japan which grows wild in Mecklenburg County and much of the South.
Mrs. Dick McCleney of Shelby suggested the Charlotte Clappers.
"Clapper means tongue of a bell think of Upton Bell." Mrs McCleney wrote. "Also, it means one that makes a clapping sound, a person who applauds the working of a team that will warrants applauding.
If the Clappers doesn't win, perhaps Bell, who will make the final selection Saturday, will go for Auroras, Beltons, Brown-Baggers, Clansman, Cyclone Bombers, Choo Choo Train, Hillbillies, Metrolina Stars, Pyramids, Queens, Quasars, Razers, Revolutionaries, Stingers, Streakers, Warlords, or Warlocks.
Some nicknames included the suggestions that the team not be named Charlotte, Piedmont, Metrolina, Carolina, Queen City, and Tarheel were substituted.
The most popular Charlotte name suggested was Kings, with 17. Knights and Hornets tied with 15, followed by Metros (13), Rebels ( 10), Stingers (9) and Truckers (8).
"I am sorry I do not like the name (Charlotte Stars) for the team," Charlotte's Mrs. Eugene Ware wrote. "I was lying in bed one night trying to think of a good name and this one came to my mind. Since North Carolina is called the Tarheel State, please name the team (The Tarheel Chargers)." You think about it o.k.? I think it is a very good name for out team."
Mrs. Ware, like many other writers, underlined the word "out".
Charles Robison of Rock Hill sent in two suggestions accompanied by drawings. One was a shrike, a predatory bird. The other was a warrior on horseback.
"I suggested that the new Charlotte WFL, team he called the Valkyries," Robison wrote. "Charlotte Mecklenburg are names Germanic in origin. the Valkyries were mythological amazon warrior-protectors of Teutonic warriors."
Perhaps the most grandiose suggestion came from James P. Barbour, who suggested the team be called the Knights, Barbour wrote:
"For a helmet decal there could be a Knight in armor on a mounted horse, charging with lance in hand.
"Eventually I would hope we'll build a new stadium. It could be built to resemble a castle from the outside."
Whatever his pleasure, Bell will eventually have thousands of names to choose from. Entries will be accepted through 6 p.m. Friday. Mail them to "Name the Team" Charlotte Observer, Box 208, Charlotte, N.C. 28231.
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