I’m embarrassed to say I’ve lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast all my life, fished the waters out front and back, shrimped with my uncle over three summers while in college, and have never heard of the Black Jack fish -- that is, until I saw the short list of names in the contest to name the soon-to-arrive Biloxi minor league baseball team.
On the short list of names, listed at the Biloxi Baseball website are: Beacon, Mullets, Shrimpers, Shuckers, and Schooners. Then there’s “Black Jack” with the explanation that the name “combines the fun of Minor League Baseball with casino & seafood industries, the “Biloxi Black Jacks” pays homage to the “rare” black-colored gulf coast Jack fish.” I’ve talked to people about the name and none are familiar with this particular fish. I‘ve never seen it mentioned on social media, and to my knowledge no one has even offered or spoke of it as a possible name for the team. Yes, I realize this is a very trite blog. But I wonder though just who came up with this interesting name? And why?
What the heck does it matter to you? Sorry, can’t help it, I’m a baseball fan.
At any rate, curious to know about this soon to be infamous fish, we looked it up. Turns out it is found and lives in the Caribbean Sea (1500 miles from here) and Atlantic Coast around underwater cliffs and deep water reefs (kinda like them great big reefs we got in the Mississippi Sound and beyond and also in them mammoth underwater cliffs around the Islands). Also, unlike the common mullet and shrimp, while alive in its natural habitat this interesting but rare fish can carry in its body a parasite that if you happen to catch one and eat it then you will soon be in for an over-the-toilet adventure.
We suppose their (ill)logic of course is that because it is in fact so rare around here that it would be a grand idea to name our city-proud baseball team after something so rare – or could it be to associate the name of the team with the casino industry, especially since there is one across the street from the ball park.
But we have to wonder about what the reason would be to re-direct the meaning of the name Black Jack to that of a fish, and not that of a casino game, as explained at the website? It’s well known that Major League Baseball historically considers as anathema anything that mixes together baseball and gambling. Remember Pete Rose’s ordeal and his admission of betting on games as a coach. And the 1919 World Series Black Sox Scandal where eight players intentionally lost games for money from gamblers. If we can get MLB to understand we’s talkin’ about a fish and really not the game of chance then by gosh we got us a right smart deal.
I mean let’s be honest. If you’re Big Money wouldn’t you want to favor a name that reminds people of your business? I think anyone would. I would. There’s no doubt the casino industry has been super corporate citizens and integral to the tax base, infrastructure improvements, and job markets on the Coast. But the heart of what is at issue runs a little bit deeper, even deeper than the Black Jack fish’s residential reefs, deeper than the meaning it holds.
You’re beginning to sound philosophical about a team name. Perhaps, but maybe that’s a good thing.
But long before the casinos arrived in 1992 and even longer before a particular casino arrived, there existed a rich and deep heritage on the Coast historically characterized by almost an exclusive hard-working middle class, a tenacious people, who in time also embraced, unlike much of the state, a more cosmopolitan atmosphere or environment, conducive to the health and welfare of all. Who with its ups and downs mutually embraced efforts to move forward and was responsible, with adroit leadership, for birthing the presence of the casino industry here. It was people from long ancestral immigrant lines who were here long before the casino industry or whatever number of Black Fish was or is out there, if they’re really out there. (Bring me one when you catch one so I can see what it looks like)
By the way, we don’t want to step on Big Money’s toes because Big Money makes a lot of big things go. We need Big Money. But then again there’s a crocodile crust that comes with being Big Money.
So, it’s my humble opinion, for what it’s worth in this very corny and trivial blog, that I think the name should reflect something about the 300 year history and heritage of our fine community, instead of corporate interests. As for me, any of the other listed names would do, including Bacon, as in mullet.
Ahh, it’s only a team name for crying out loud. What the hell does it matter? Yea, well that’s the deal. It might not matter to a whole lot of people, but it apparently does to some, especially baseball fans.
Besides, the name Black Jack doesn’t reflect pride, heritage, or character. If you walk up to people on the Coast and say, “Tell me the first thing comes to mind when I say the words, ‘black jack’” -- would they think more of a fish, or a casino game? The name Black Jack equals a card game equals gambling equals casino equals corporate. For one to think that people will think the name Black Jack brings to mind a fish before it does an across-the-street black jack casino game, or a particular casino’s business team, is either living in a phantasm or engaging in intellectual dishonesty.
Well, that’s too damn bad because it wasn’t your money that brought the team to town! Hey, I beg your pardon. Fifty thousand or so of us Biloxi taxpayers are on the hook for this project and I think there should be some consideration by Big Money in tipping it’s appreciative hat towards the city, it’s leaders, and the heritage-rich other Coast cities, for its existential presence as well as maintaining a conducive business environment for its success. Yes, admittedly, it is a two way street. But let us have this little cultural crumb.
But let’s get serious. Dispense with the charade on this name. If Big Money wants a really serious business-oriented name to reflect its corporate interests (20 years), instead of the Biloxi/Coast heritage (300 years), there are many other, and more to the point, names we can give the team. Like, for example, Dice Men, Crapshooters, Rouletteers, Casino Royales, and Biloxi Beaus. I especially like Buffet Kings and Slot Masters. Besides, with the name Black Jack, having them capital letters on the players’ caps for some reason just doesn’t seem a good fit.
If you’re a betting person, and Big Money has its way, don’t even roll the dice on this one. Put your money on “Black Jack” as the team name. Because money, especially big money, talks…and you know the rest.
By the way, if you have a hankering for delicious Alaskan crab legs, there’s only a few places in town you can get them -- you know where they are.
I can’t believe I’ve spent this much time writing about a fish -- a rare one at that.
I love Biloxi! I love the Coast!