Emerald’s explosive new identity highlights Florence’s past

Exploding whale story continues to ‘blow up’ almost 33 years later

March 29, 2023 — On March 22 the Eugene Emeralds, a High-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, made an exciting announcement.

During the upcoming season, the Emeralds will pay homage to one of the most infamous moments in Florence history when they will become the Exploding Whales for four games.

The Emeralds have worked with the city of Florence, Mayor Rob Ward, the city council and other business leaders to carefully create this alternate identity.

The City is excited for the attention this will bring the town.

“We’re really excited that the Em’s have decided to celebrate the exploding whale and in turn Florence, as part of their season.,” said Megan Messner, Assistant City Manager. “It’s a fun honor and a fun thing we have in Florence that we’re well known for that we’re excited to see on the field.”

Messner hopes that fans that happen to be at one of those Exploding Whale games might be inspired to head to the coast after being reminded of Florence’s fun local history.

“Maybe they weren’t thinking about Florence before the game but they’ll see that whale emblem and decide to make a longer weekend of it and come out to Florence and see what we have to offer,” said Messner.

The Exploding Whale identity is a reference to an event that occurred in November of 1970 just north of the city of Florence. A 45-foot-long sperm whale washed ashore on the coast that weighed just short of eight tons. The state’s Highway division had jurisdiction over the beaches and after consulting with the United States Navy, they decided to remove the whale using dynamite. The hope was that it would result in small pieces for animals to consume. The result was an event that would be remembered in the history books.

Not all Florencians are proud of this moment in history but City Councilor Jo Beaudreaux believes the event and the Emerald’s honoring it are a net positive for the community..

“I hope people keep an open mind if they have a negative space to it,” said Beaudreaux. “I think this is a learning opportunity. I believe that having the Em’s recognize the exploding whale in Florence and also [bring attention to] the Florence Oregon coast and our ecosystem here is a way that people will recognize and honor our wildlife, not only in our oceans, but on land as well.”

The Emeralds agree with the councilor’s sentiment.

“The Emeralds are beyond ecstatic to be embodying this identity, and we hope it can bring awareness to not only climate change, but its effects on whale migration patterns as well,” said the team in a news release. “At all of our four Exploding Whale games this season, the Emeralds will be providing an educational component to the night, by using videos and other forms of media to bring attention to the challenges presented by climate change and whale migration.”

April 12, April 22, May 6 and August 19 will be the four games that the Em’s will transform into their alternate identity. The uniform change is only the beginning of what the team has planned for those four games.

“An alternate identity is more than just using a different logo for a day,” said the Emeralds. “It’s about embracing an idea and completely changing the team's identity. From jerseys to stadium decor, it’s a complete overhaul of what fans have come to expect. It helps bring awareness and draws attention to the identity, which can be used to help bring positive change.”

To purchase tickets to attend one of the Exploding Whale Nights go to www.milb.com/eugene/tickets.

To purchase Exploding Whale gear go to www.emeralds.milbstore.com/collections/exploding-whales.