Morehead City Marlins and Bismarck Larks launched the same alternative team name and now seek to use the shared attention for good
(Bismarck, ND – July 17, 2023) – In an unprecedented situation, the Morehead City Marlins of the Coastal Plain League and the Bismarck Larks of the Northwoods League both changed their team names for promotional nights to the Morehead City Motorboaters and Missouri River Motorboaters, respectively, in the same week. Initially caught off guard by the coincidence, the team owners decided to see if they could work things out amicably, rather than engage in a dispute. The exciting new partnership aims to create something unique, not only to summer collegiate baseball, but perhaps a lesson in how businesses can collaborate rather than litigate.
The idea of each team adopting an alter ego came in the off season as each team sought ways to sell more merchandise and generate buzz around their franchises. Inspired by the success of other Minor League baseball teams with alter egos, each team embarked on a temporary rebrand that would energize the community and rally fans.
For the Marlins, The Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament, a prominent event in Carteret County, drew attention as it brought boaters from around the world to Morehead City in pursuit of the largest marlin and its grand cash prize. “It was in discussions about this event with my baseball operations team that the idea of the “Morehead City Motorboaters” came to life,” said Buddy Bengel, Owner of the Morehead City Marlins.
Meanwhile, 1,793 miles away in Bismarck, Larks’ owner John Boillinger was having similar thoughts. How to get his community, team and fans excited about summertime, the vast lake and river boating community in the region, and of course, baseball. “We have a similar, but different summertime atmosphere here in Bismarck,” added Bollinger. “Our version of motorboating is a laid-back afternoon pontooning down the Missouri River or local lake. Families, friends, and neighbors gather on the water, creating a sense of community not just here but across the entire country.”
As each team went through their branding exercises, each developed captivating graphics, compelling story lines, and carefully planned launch strategies.
However, a few days into their respective launches, without knowing the other even existed, each owner received distressing news about the “other Motorboaters.” Initial concerns and thoughts of legal action arose. Amidst uncertainty, the two owners trepidatiously got on a video call, which revealed a surprising and inspiring connection.
During their conversation, it became clear that both owners shared a passion for motorboating and creating fun for their communities that sparked an immediate connection. Realizing the potential for something greater, they mutually decided to set aside any disputes and explore the possibility of collaboration. Their vision aligned: two different summer leagues, two different cities, one unified mission of celebrating motorboating.
“We just think this will be so much fun for our respective fans. What motorboating means to Morehead City is fast, loud, big, and charismatic. We motorboat on the ocean and can’t wait to show those river / lake motorboaters who’s boss,” said Bengel.
Firing back with a smile, Bollinger quipped, “I think those ocean dwellers will be surprised by the love for motorboating on lakes and rivers across North Dakota and the country. Being on the pontoon in the summertime can’t be beat! The competition is on!”
Their vision aligned: two different summer leagues, two different cities, one unified mission of celebrating motorboating. Both teams have decided to create a friendly competition and a new merchandise item.
Starting Monday, July 17 through each team’s respective Motorboaters games on July 27 in Bismarck and July 28 in Morehead City, each team will donate 10% of the proceeds for their “Built for Speed” and “Built for Comfort” t-shirts to the North Carolina Coastal Federation (Morehead City) which focuses on coastal management and thriving shorelines; and the North Dakota Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers who partner with North Dakota Game and Fish on projects for Missouri River conservation and recreation projects (Bismarck). Whichever team sells the most t-shirts in that timeframe will win the 1st annual Battle of the Motorboaters bragging rights. Fans can check out all the gear at motorboatersbaseball.com for Morehead City and at mrmotorboaters.com for Bismarck.
The two owners now envision a powerful alliance that transcends boundaries, promoting the love of motorboating to a wider audience. They believe that, just as different boats are built for various purposes, the summer season is synonymous with joy in all its forms.
For Morehead City:
ABOUT THE MARLINS The Morehead City Marlins is the local favorite team making waves in a big way along the Crystal Coast. With an expansive and accommodating stadium, a talented group of players who are making their way to the big time, and plenty of home games to enjoy a local show of athletics, the Morehead City Marlins are clearly a home run for this small Inner Banks community. A full schedule of the Marlin’s games can be found online at http://www.mhcmarlins.com/, and tickets can be reserved on the Marlin’s website as well. The team also features a number of promotions throughout the year to attract new attendees, including Teacher Appreciation Nights, Thirsty Thursdays, and Police-Fire-EMT Nights to ensure all of the Morehead City community and its visitors can enjoy a day or night at the ballpark without breaking the bank.
ABOUT THE LARKS The Bismarck Larks are celebrating their seventh season in the Northwoods League, the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The Larks’ mission is to use FUN to make a difference in the lives of our families, businesses, players, and communities they serve. This is accomplished with a commitment to putting fans first and providing high-quality family entertainment. In 2022, the team sold out 97% of 1,900 available tickets at their 36 home games in Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust Field. The Larks were named Northwoods Organization of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and one of the top 30 employers in sports by Front Office Sports in 2021, along with the Denver Broncos and Savannah Bananas.
ABOUT THE NORTHWOODS LEAGUE The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Now in its’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff, over 325 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website at watchnwl.com and on ESPN+. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
ABOUT THE COASTAL PLAIN LEAGUE The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. The CPL is currently comprised of 14 franchises playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. To date, the CPL has had nearly 1,750 alumni drafted and 177 alums make their Major League debut. Most notable alumni include Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis, Chris Taylor, Alec Bohm, Jake Cave, Chas McCormick and NFL Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok @CPLBaseball.
ABOUT THE NORTH CAROLINA COASTAL FEDERATION The North Carolina Coastal Federation is a nonprofit membership organization that has worked since 1982 to keep the coast of North Carolina a great place to live, work and play. Through a variety of programs and partnerships, the Federation works with people from all walks of life for clean coastal waters, living shorelines, thriving oysters, effective coastal management, and a coast that is free of marine debris. To learn more visit nccoast.org.