FORT WAYNE – The first thing you need to know is, no, it’s not a monkey inside that spacesuit. The second thing is that it never was officially named Captain Komet – that was just the moniker given to it around town and it stuck.
The Komets’ Spaceman logo is so beloved that when the team decided to put together its 60th anniversary jersey for this season, the Spaceman seemed the natural fit.
The Komets and Fort Wayne bring tradition and the logo is simply awesome. Anybody that is a true Komets fan will recognize this logo, said 28-year-old fan Eric Zent, whose brother-in-law, Bruce Ryan, 31, donned a Spaceman costume to the Komets’ 4-3 shootout victory over Evansville on Saturday, the eve of Halloween.
Figuring out the history of the Spaceman isn’t so easy, though, especially since some people joke there’s a monkey in that spacesuit, an allusion to the U.S.’ sending monkeys to space in the era which the Komets began using the logo.
While the timing sort of fits, it was never the intention. That some think Captain Komet is a monkey has more to do with poor design than anything.
So where does Captain Komet come from?
According to Chuck Bailey, the team’s director of communications, it had everything to do with space exploration after President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 declaration that the U.S. must win the race to the moon, and after John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962.
For the Komets, this was a natural tie-in, Bailey said. The owners at the time, Ray Perry, Ken Ullyot and Colin Lister, from what I understand, all came up with the idea, or agreed to the idea, of tying the Komet logo into space when it all became popular in the early 60s.
In the 1962-63 season, the Komets’ logo was a star with a K’ inside of it. During that season, programs began featuring the Spaceman, which had been designed by Lister, who would later create the reviled logo of a fort – some also say it’s a rocket – of 1969-70.
For the regular-season opener in 1963-64, the Spaceman was unveiled as the logo on uniforms, where it remained until 1968.
Ullyot used to kid around with Colin a lot that it looked like he had just scribbled these logos out, said Bob Chase, the Komets’ broadcaster for 59 years, who created the fireball logo that became the Komets’ centerpiece in 1970.
Certainly, no one thought Captain Komet was going to become a cult classic and used in various circumstances, such as with pregame spotlights, in the 21st century.
In those days, things were so much different, Chase said. It didn’t make a difference to the players what logo was on the sweater, as long as they were here. They didn’t care what they wore; they had jobs and that was enough.
Notes: The Komets hope forward Stephon Thorne, goaltender Kevin Beech or defenseman Jamie Lovell could play Friday against Rapid City, even though their immigration work papers haven’t been approved by the U.S. government. The holdup on Thorne and Beech has been because another player who was in training camp, Frederic Korduner, who has since been released, had his visa red-flagged. Thorne and Beech were on the same petition.