Two Summer Collegiate Baseball Teams Forge Unique Collaboration to Embrace the Spirit of…Motorboating?

Morehead City Marlins and Bismarck Larks launched the same alternative team name and now seek to use the shared attention for good


(Morehead City, NC – July 17, 2023) – In an unprecedented situation, the Morehead City Marlins of the Coastal Plain League and the Bismarck Larks of the Northwoods League both changed their team names for promotional nights to the Morehead City Motorboaters and Missouri River Motorboaters, respectively, in the same week. Initially caught off guard by the coincidence, the team owners decided to see if they could work things out amicably, rather than engage in a dispute. The exciting new partnership aims to create something unique, not only to summer collegiate baseball, but perhaps a lesson in how businesses can collaborate rather than litigate. 


The idea of each team adopting an alter ego came in the off season as each team sought ways to sell more merchandise and generate buzz around their franchises. Inspired by the success of other Minor League baseball teams with alter egos, each team embarked on a temporary rebrand that would energize the community and rally fans. 


For the Marlins, The Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament, a prominent event in Carteret County, drew attention as it brought boaters from around the world to Morehead City in pursuit of the largest marlin and its grand cash prize. “It was in discussions about this event with my baseball operations team that the idea of the “Morehead City Motorboaters” came to life,” said Buddy Bengel, Owner of the Morehead City Marlins.


Meanwhile, 1,793 miles away in Bismarck, Larks’ owner John Boillinger was having similar thoughts. How to get his community, team and fans excited about summertime, the vast lake and river boating community in the region, and of course, baseball.  “We have a similar, but different summertime atmosphere here in Bismarck,” added Bollinger. “Our version of motorboating is a laid-back afternoon pontooning down the Missouri River or local lake. Families, friends, and neighbors gather on the water, creating a sense of community not just here but across the entire country.”


As each team went through their branding exercises, each developed captivating graphics, compelling story lines, and carefully planned launch strategies. 


However, a few days into their respective launches, without knowing the other even existed, each owner received distressing news about the “other Motorboaters.” Initial concerns and thoughts of legal action arose. Amidst uncertainty, the two owners trepidatiously got on a video call, which revealed a surprising and inspiring connection.


During their conversation, it became clear that both owners shared a passion for motorboating and creating fun for their communities that sparked an immediate connection. Realizing the potential for something greater, they mutually decided to set aside any disputes and explore the possibility of collaboration. Their vision aligned: two different summer leagues, two different cities, one unified mission of celebrating motorboating.


“We just think this will be so much fun for our respective fans. What motorboating means to Morehead City is fast, loud, big, and charismatic. We motorboat on the ocean and can’t wait to show those river / lake motorboaters who’s boss,” said Bengel.


Firing back with a smile, Bollinger quipped, “I think those ocean dwellers will be surprised by the love for motorboating on lakes and rivers across North Dakota and the country. Being on the pontoon in the summertime can’t be beat! The competition is on!”


Both teams have decided to create a friendly competition and a new merchandise item. Starting Monday, July 17 through each team’s respective Motorboaters games on July 27 in Bismarck and July 28 in Morehead City, each team will donate 10% of the proceeds for their “Built for Speed” and “Built for Comfort” t-shirts to the North Carolina Coastal Federation (Morehead City) which focuses on coastal management and thriving shorelines; and the North Dakota Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers who partner with North Dakota Game and Fish on projects for Missouri River conservation and recreation projects (Bismarck). Whichever team sells the most t-shirts in that timeframe will win the 1st annual Battle of the Motorboaters bragging rights.  Fans can check out all the gear at for Morehead City and at for Bismarck. 


The two owners now envision a powerful alliance that transcends boundaries, promoting the love of motorboating to a wider audience. They believe that, just as different boats are built for various purposes, the summer season is synonymous with joy in all its forms.





For Morehead City:         For Bismarck:

Courtney Dennis Isaac Bugarin

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