Gastonia Honey Hunters.jpg

GASTONIA — Gastonia’s professional baseball team will be called the Honey Hunters, the team announced Wednesday.

The team, which is slated to begin play this summer season, will be the nearest team in the Atlantic League to the High Point Rockers, who will be entering their second season of play after not playing in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The name and logo — which is of a honey badger — were the result of extensive research, the team said in a release, that included in-market focus groups, interviews, discussions with the city and league, and input from fans.

The name was chosen from a list of finalists that also included: Fire Ants, Hogzillas, Hotshots and Uppercuts.

“Honey Hunters was chosen to reflect the shared traits between the city of Gastonia and those of the most fearless animal in the world: fearless, determined, and resilient,” owner Brandon Bellamy said in the release.

The Honey Hunters, who will call the new FUSE District Stadium near downtown Gastonia home, join the league following a reshuffling within professional baseball.

The Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots both left the league to become minor league affiliates — Sugar Land a Triple-A affiliate for the Houston Astros and Somerset a Double-A affiliate for the New York Yankees. The New Britain Bees also left to become a summer collegiate team.

So, the Atlantic League — which hasn’t announced its schedule yet but began play in 2019 on April 25 — will feature High Point, Gastonia, the Lancaster Barnstormers, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, York Revolution and Long Island Ducks.