When the Albuquerque Dukes relocated to Portland in 2001, the city was left looking for a new baseball team and a new name. After a readers poll conducted by the Albuquerque Journal in 2002, the name Isotopes was announced as the winner with 67 percent of the vote. Before the new team threw their first pitch, more Albuquerque Isotopes merchandise was sold than the Dukes had ever sold in any given season.
The reason for such wild popularity? The Simpsons. In a 2001 episode entitled "Hungry Hungry Homer," Homer Simpson goes on a hunger strike when the Springfield baseball team -- the Isotopes -- attempts to relocate to Albuquerque. Thanks to the episode and the presence of several notable scientific facilities in New Mexico, the Isotopes seemed the perfect name for what would become one of the most valuable franchises in the minor league.
While the Albuquerque Isotopes don't have an official relationship with Fox Broadcasting Company or the television series, fans will find Simpsons tie-ins throughout Isotopes Park. The team's logo is rendered in the same cartoon-like text, and statues of Homer, Marge, Lisa and Bart can be seen sitting at various locations around the stadium.
Homer Simpson enjoys a game
Fans wanting to get a closer look at Isotopes Park can sign up for a free behind-the-scenes tour, offered every non-game weekday between 11am and 4pm that includes visits to the dugout, locker rooms, press box and VIP suites. During the tour, fans will learn more about the history of the Isotopes and what the future has in store for this fan-favorite team.
Homer and Bart take the field in Isotope Park