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"PorkChop" Mascot Inflames Pa. Fans

baseball bat, glove and ball
Two days after naming its mascot "PorkChop," the Philadelphia Phillies' new Triple-A affiliate abruptly dropped the moniker after receiving complaints from Hispanics that it was offensive.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, whose mascot is a large, furry pig, had selected PorkChop from more than 7,300 fan submissions

General Manager Kurt Landes said he heard from several Hispanics who said PorkChop was derogatory.

The team, which begins play in 2008, announced Monday that the mascot will be named "Ferrous" instead.

"We were really unaware of any negative connotations with the word 'pork chop,"' Landes said. "If it offended a few, it's a few too many."

The name dredged up memories of prejudice and racism for some area residents.

"Here in the Lehigh Valley, the name for Puerto Ricans was pork chop and in particular in areas like the steel company and Mack Truck," said Guillermo Lopez, a Bethlehem Steel Corp. worker for 25 years. "I was called pork chop in the workplace," reported The Express-Times in Allentown.

"If my parents were alive, they'd be having fits," said Lopez, among those who complained to the team. "It meant much more to them than it does to Puerto Ricans now in the Lehigh Valley."

PorkChop had been submitted by 32 fans. The replacement name, Ferrous - from the Latin word "ferrum," or iron - received the most fan nominations, with 235.

"Thankfully because we have so much support in town, I think most of the e-mails were heads-up to say, 'I don't think you were aware of this,'" IronPigs spokesman Matt Provence said, according to the newspaper. "They were more instructive than they were resentful."

The team moved to Allentown from Ottawa - where it was known as the Lynx - following the 2007 season. Construction is wrapping up on a new stadium in east Allentown.