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Phillies rumors circling around shark ads

References in the newspaper and on a billboard feed speculation that the team's new name will be the Threshers.

Published December 6, 2003

CLEARWATER - For the past seven months, Clearwater Phillies officials have remained tight-lipped about the results of a contest in which fans voted on a new team name and logo.

But they might be giving some not-so-subtle hints.

Goodbye, Phillies. Hello, Threshers?

An advertisement on Page 7C in the Nov. 23 Sports section of the St. Petersburg Times gave an oblique reference to a thresher shark. "Baseball Found in Thresher's Stomach!" trumpeted the ad, which resembled a news report. The fake story said a 16-foot thresher shark caught off the coast near Clearwater burped up a baseball.

A billboard on southbound U.S. 19 near Countryside Mall has a picture and definition of a thresher shark.

Clearwater ticketing and media coordinator Jason Adams would not say whether the newspaper and billboard advertisements were purchased by the team. But the two items have created a buzz and are a pretty good indication of the new name, which will be announced at a news conference Monday.

"I can neither confirm nor deny (the name)," Adams said. "All I can say is you're on the right track."

The news conference will be held at the new stadium, 601 Old Coachman Road, at Old Coachman and Drew Street in Clearwater.

Phillies Hall of Famer and Clearwater manager Mike Schmidt will model the new uniform. Phillies president and chief executive officer David Montgomery, general manager Ed Wade and assistant general manager for scouting and player development Mike Arbuckle also will attend.

Adams said the team has kicked around the name change idea for a while but did not pursue it until Clearwater agreed to build a 7,000-seat stadium to keep the Phillies in town for 21 more years.

The team has called Clearwater home for spring training since 1947 and has operated its Class A minor-league team here since 1985.

In May, fans began voting on the name change on the team's Web site, helping whittle the list from 40 to four.

The names on the short list are Barracudas, Beach Dogs, Kingfish and Sand Sharks.

Adams said the team had copyright issues with those four names, which delayed the process.

But the Phillies wouldn't have that problem calling themselves the Threshers. Tina Gust, assistant director of licensing for Minor League Baseball, said no other team goes by that name.

[Last modified December 6, 2003, 01:33:58]

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