As the Newark Bears prepare to begin their inaugural season in the Can-Am League, they’ve got a snazzy new redesigned website (it’s quite sharp) and an interesting new set of game times. But that’s not what first struck me when I went to the site from Paul’s and Phil Hoops’ sites.
It’s the year in the masthead:
Look, I give the current Bears all kinds of credit for embracing Newark’s baseball history — both that of the legendary Bears and of the Eagles of the Negro Leagues. But, as with the Nationals, I can’t get on board with “Since 1917.” I’m not even sure “stretching the truth” is going far enough in this instance.
First, it’s obviously not the same Bears franchise. The Bears teams of yore were affiliated clubs — often with the Yankees — and saw the likes of Yogi Berra and Jerry Coleman call Ruppert Stadium home. The current club’s name is certainly an homage, but it’s not as if this club is a direct descendant.
Second, Newark hasn’t had a team continuously since 1917. There is a pretty significant 49-year gap between the 1949 Bears leaving town and the current version being born. In fact, if you want to get technical about it, baseball was absent from the city for an even 50 years, because Riverfront Stadium didn’t open until 1999.
Third — and this is more tongue-in-cheek and related to how the words in the masthead are read — there was no internet in 1917. That’s taking the words “Official home of the Newark Bears since 1917” quite literally.
And that’s where I think some tweaking would help. Maybe “since” isn’t the right word there. While “Est. 1917” still might not be completely accurate, because this isn’t the same franchise, the first iteration of “Newark Bears baseball” was established in 1917, so there is some truth to that. Or maybe they should go even further back — add a tagline to the effect of “Carrying on Newark’s baseball tradition, established 1877.” Since it’s not the same Bears franchise, why start with 1917? Why not acknowledge all of Newark’s past teams?