Misplaced Minor League Nomenclature
Many fans may not realize that the Frederick Keys, the Baltimore Orioles’ affiliate in the Carolina League who happen to be celebrating their 25th anniversary this season, are named for Francis Scott Key who is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery across the road from the ballpark. This is because nothing that the Keys do promotionally during the game would give any fan the idea that the team is in fact named after the author of the Star Spangled Banner.
Actually, a giant-headed quasi-likeness of Francis Scott Key occasionally parades around the stands in a swallow-tailed coat. This Francis Scott Key, however, seems to think that he’s Ricky Ricardo as he is constantly beating on a tom-tom. Between his frozen expression that is half-smile and half-oh-say-I just-saw-a-horrible-accident and the incessant drumming, it is hard to remember that this monster-headed cartoon character is supposed to represent one of the nation’s heroes.
Frederick’s official mascot is named Keyote, a clever play on words, but which has nothing to do with Francis Scott Key or the Star Spangled Banner. Possibly, it commemorates the most recent coyote sighting in Frederick which was probably about 1746. Coyotes are generally scary, but since Keyote looks a lot like Bullwinkle—and doesn’t play the tom-tom—he’s a rather pleasant, if misplaced mascot.
Another element that might lead to moniker misunderstanding by fans is that they are exhorted to wave their car keys during the 7th inning stretch. It’s an established fact that Francis Scott Key did not drive to Fort McHenry, so this exercise seems a bit silly. In fact, 25 years ago when the franchise was holding a contest to name the team, I suggested that they be named after a huge stone jug that stood at one end of the bridge that took the Old National Pike (Rt. 40) across the Monocacy River. The bridge became known as the “jug bridge” and even now businesses in the area are named after it. I have no doubt that if, during the 7th inning stretch, fans were exhorted to “jiggle their jugs” instead of to “shake their keys” Frederick would lead all of the minors in attendance.
In any case, when you attend a game at Harry Grove Stadium, and it is a great place to watch a game, don’t be confused about whom you are rooting for. The home team name has nothing to do with coyotes or car keys, but indeed was named for that well-known percussionist and part-time songwriter, Francis Scott Key.