Gwinnett Braves release 2016 promotional schedule

Gwinnett Braves mascot, Chopper, uses a water gun to spray down young fans during a minor league baseball game between the Norfolk Tides and the Gwinnett Braves at Coolray Field this past season. (Staff Photo: David Welker)

The highly anticipated finalists in the Gwinnett Braves’ “Name The Team” contest have been selected, with all six entries meeting the major focus of a local connection.

Gwinnett, the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A minor league baseball affiliate, plan to make the official announcement of the finalists later Thursday morning. Fans suggested names on the team’s website from May 22 to June 2 and a committee pared those names in recent weeks.

The final six options are:

• Gwinnett Buttons

The Buttons honor Gwinnett County’s namesake, Button Gwinnett, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

• Gwinnett Big Mouths

Named after the state fish of Georgia, the largemouth bass, it is a tribute to bass fishing on Lake Lanier.

• Gwinnett Gobblers

The Gobblers celebrates the outdoors, hunting and eating all the foods we love.

• Gwinnett Hush Puppies

The club’s tidbit on this name — “Our stealthy hunting dog is sneaking through the weeds, about to rustle up some ducks. But don’t think we’re all that serious. You can expect a “corny” fan experience at the “Puppies” game!”

• Gwinnett Lambchops

A chop off the old block, the Lambchops marries the region’s love of home cooking with the Tomahawk Chop of the Atlanta Braves.

• Gwinnett Sweet Teas

The Sweet Teas celebrate the laid-back lifestyle of Gwinnett County while displaying a real sweet look.

A total of 4,024 submissions were entered online with more than 900 different name ideas. A selection committee of G-Braves and Atlanta Braves staff members, as well as branding partner Brandiose, decided which names made the final cut to six.

“(The contest) definitely got a bigger response than I anticipated,” G-Braves general manager North Johnson said. “One thing I always think about is how relevant are we in the marketplace. Sometimes we take a backseat to other things in the market. The more than 4,000 submissions and 900 names gave us a lot of renewed energy. It wasn’t just Gwinnett County. Folks all over the region were submitting names and were engaged in the process.

“Ultimately, that’s what we want, for folks to be engaged and know we’re here, what we’re about. … We were able to get it down to about 20 (names) pretty easily I would say. Obviously, some of the names already were taken and there were certain things you just can’t do. … Getting down to those six was the most difficult part. There were names that sounded good and we looked into the meaning, looked at urban slang, and you find out you can’t go down that path.”

Johnson said there were a number of other suggestions that appealed to the committee. He mentioned Duelers (because Button Gwinnett was killed in a duel), Dirt Daubers, Hash Browns, Peaches, Traffic, Grits, Goobers, Commuters, Fire Ants, Corn Cobs, 85ers and Hustlers as other intriguing entries.

As of this morning, fans can vote for their favorite among the six finalists on the G-Braves' official site. The leading vote-getters will factor into the final choice, Johnson said.

Voting will continue through July 24, then the final stages begin for the franchise. Johnson estimated the name selection wouldn’t be made until late October or early November, giving the club time to show off logos, uniforms and other items at the unveiling.

“It’s been a fun journey and it’s been an interesting journey to get to this point,” Johnson said. “Now it’s a whole different journey we’re about to take with the fans voting on the names to help us decide our final name. It’s going to be fun to see how it plays out.”

Fans who suggested one of the six finalists will be invited to the name unveiling press conference later this year. The fan who submitted the winning name will receive two season tickets for 2018, while the other finalists will receive merchandise with the new name and logo.