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The St. Paul Saints introduce this year's pig mascot, named in honor of Prince

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On the eve of the St. Paul Saints season opener a Facebook post from the team introduced their 2016 pig, who was wrapped in a purple blanket.

The Saints tried to keep his name under wraps, too, but that didn't last long. Say hello to Little Red Porkette.

The Saints, of course, have a two-legged fuzzy pink pig mascot – Mudonna – who wanders through the stands and gives hugs to children.

But there's also a real live pig who carries a fresh batch of baseballs to the home plate umpire a few times each game (usually on a leash held by Dennis Hauth, who has provided, trained, and handled the pig every year since the Saints franchise was revived in 1993).

Their names started innocently enough with The Saint in 1993 and St. Paula the following year. But when the 1997 pig was known as Hamlet ... followed a few years later by Kevin Bacon ... the name game was on.

Runner-up names

The Saints say there were 4,000 entries in this year's Name the Pig contest.

Several made reference to Prince, the team says, including: The Mascot Formerly Known as Swine, Raspiggy Beret, and Paisley Pork.

But Little Red Porkette is the winner. And the Saints are hinting that his entrances may be more elaborate than those of his predecessors. The team says he'll enter CHS Field dressed in a purple jacket and "in a sweet new ride."

The Saints say their pigs typically start the season weighing 20 pounds and by the time it ends on Labor Day they're usually around 200 pounds. Funny that none of them ever come back for a second year...

Why a pig?

The Saints say their porky tradition started when Libby Veeck, spouse of team co-owner Mike Veeck, learned that in its earliest days St. Paul had been known as Pig's Eye.

That was the nickname of Pierre Parrant (right), a retired voyageur who helped the town's first settlers get through the winter by providing shelter in the cave where he also made whiskey.

Speaking of Pig's Eye, a video posted by the Pioneer Press a couple years ago provides a pig's eye view of what the pig – Stephen Colboar, in this case – actually does at a Saints game.

The Saints are similar to minor league baseball teams although they play in an independent league, the American Association, where teams are not connected to any major league franchise.

Thursday's season opener is the start of a four game series against the Gary SouthShore RailCats. There are fireworks on Friday, Saturday is Star Wars Night, and you're encouraged to bring your dog to Sunday's game.

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