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Baseball logo brings fans together

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One of the things that makes UNF unique is also what causes people to take a second look: the UNF baseball logo.

The first thing people do when they see the logo is think, “Yankees. No wait, North Florida.”

That’s what the baseball symbol was designed to be like, said head coach Dusty Rhodes. After working in the minor leagues for the Yankees in 1982, Rhodes wanted to bring some of that big league influence to North Florida baseball.

When Rhodes first came to UNF in 1986, there was no baseball team or logo.

So Rhodes teamed up with the equipment manager for the Gator’s baseball team and an art director, whose brother was a football player at the University of Florida, to come up with the logo UNF baseball has today.

“We sat down one day and finally figured out that the ‘N’ would be just like the Yankee logo, and we would put the ‘F’ in the middle instead of the ‘Y,’” Rhodes said. “We wanted to have something people would recognize and that would be different. It came out pretty good I think.”

Rhodes never did get special permission to use the Yankee logo, but the North Florida symbol has never brought about conflict between UNF and the New York Yankees.

“Both our logos are very similar, and it does seem like an infringement issue,” said Michael DeAntonios, the director of merchandising for the South Carolina Riverdogs, a minor league baseball team for the New York Yankees. “We’ve never had a situation where the symbol is replicated like this, but it hasn’t caused a problem.”

To avoid any problems, Rhodes and his team did go through several drafts because they didn’t want their logo to look exactly like the Yankees. For example, Rhodes said the Yankee logo tends to be in more of a block form, while UNF appears to be more old English.

“Sometimes ours has a little bit more of a swoop in the ‘N,’ and the ‘F’ is completely different than the ’Y,’” he said. “We just wanted to interlock it and make it look like there was something special for North Florida.”

It’s been more than 20 years since the logo was established, and it has become known across the U.S. UNF baseball has been to the national championships five times and has played exhibition games against the Jacksonville Suns and professional teams such as the Detroit Tigers and L.A. Dodgers.

Rhodes has even encountered the UNF baseball logo overseas in Europe while coaching for the USA baseball team, he said.

Walking down the street one day in Czechoslovakia, Rhodes ran into a woman wearing a UNF baseball cap. She got it at a baseball game while visiting a friend in the Navy in Jacksonville, Rhodes said.

Another person who has grown to like the UNF baseball logo throughout the years is UNF President John Delaney, Rhodes said.  However, President Delaney has the option to change the logo when Rhodes retires and come up with a logo that might be more original to UNF.

“People have gotten used to seeing our logo, but when I retire, I don’t know what will happen,” Rhodes said.

Some students might be interested in seeing a change for the UNF logo because it is so similar to the Yankees’ teams, but no decisions have been made as to whether the logo will be changed.

“So many people have looked at me and asked me if I’m a Yankees fan,” said sophomore communication major Chris Warren. “I always have to correct them and say North Florida. It would be nice to have new fan paraphernalia. I don’t want the Yankee logo on it.”

E-mail Heather Furey at [email protected]

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Baseball logo brings fans together