Photo of the baseball diamond at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. 

As devout as Major League Baseball fans are, we would guess that 70% of fans don't know the history of their team's nickname. We knew my favorite team's history (Cincinnati Reds) but not to the extent that we had expected. From This Seat did some research as to how all 30 Major League Baseball teams arrived at their nickname. Keep in mind that many of these are legend and that there are conflicting stories but the ones listed are by wide consensus. Enjoy!

Arizona Diamondbacks - The Diamondbacks are one of the two Major League expansion teams formed in 1998. They were nicknamed the Diamondbacks due to the heavy diamondback rattlesnake population in Arizona and the southwestern United States.

Mascot: D-Backs Luchador, Baxter the Bobcat

 

 

Atlanta Braves - The Atlanta Braves originated in Boston, MA as the Boston Braves with a stop in Milwaukee as the Milwaukee Braves. The franchise became the Braves in 1912 because the franchise's owner James Gaffney was a member of Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was a political organization that used an Indian chief as their symbol.

Mascot: Homer

 

 

Baltimore Orioles - The Baltimore Oriole is Maryland's state bird. The bird's black and orange feathers are similar to the Calvert seal which is why Baltimore was included in the bird's name.

Mascot: The Oriole Bird

 

 

Boston Red Sox -"Red Sox" was adopted by the team's owner at the time; John I. Taylor. He named the team Red Sox to pay tribute to the old Boston Red Stockings which played in the American Association and the "Player's League". The Red Stockings changed their name to the Boston Beaneaters during the 1880's.

Mascot: Lefty and Righty, Wally the Green Monster

 

 

Chicago Cubs - Chicago's inaugural baseball team began as the Chicago White Stockings before becoming the Chicago Colts and eventually the Chicago Orphans when their Manager left. In 1902, the Chicago Daily News nicknamed the team "The Cubs" because it had so many young baseball players on the roster. By 1907, the team was universally known as the Chicago Cubs.

Mascot: Clark

 

 

Chicago White Sox - The Chicago Cubs were originally nicknamed the Chicago White Stockings; they dropped the nickname in 1889. A second ball club was formed in 1900 as one of the eight American League charter teams. The new franchise re-assumed the nickname 'Chicago White Stockings'. The Chicago Daily News eventually began abbreviating the team as the Chicago White Sox in their news coverage.

Mascot: Southpaw

 

 

Cincinnati Reds - The Reds were the very first professional baseball team in the United States. However, they were kicked out of the National League in 1880 for playing games on Sunday and for selling beer at games on Sunday. Both were attempts to lure Cincinnati's German population to the ballpark. The seven other charter members of the National League didn't approve and kicked them out after they refused to ban Sunday baseball and beer sales. The city formed and re-branded a new team as the Cincinnati Red-Stockings. The team eventually re-joined the National League in 1889 and once again, became the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds nickname was a play on their uniforms. Instead of trousers, the team wore red stockings with knickers.

Mascot: Mr. Redlegs, Rosie Red, Gapper

 

 

Cleveland Indians - In 1914, Cleveland was known as the Cleveland Naps in honor of their best player - Napolean Lajoie. When Lajoie left Cleveland after the 1914 season as a part of a trade, the Cleveland Plains Dealer newspaper called for a name change. Team President Charles Somers left it up to the baseball writers to choose a new name for the team. They chose the Indians as both a tribute to Louis Sockalexis, a  former Native American Cleveland player and also as a play off of the Boston Braves nickname. Sockalexis was the first Native American to play in the Major Leagues.

Mascot: Slider

 

 

Colorado Rockies - The Colorado Rockies were originally Denver's NHL team from 1976-1982. They moved to Newark, New Jersey to become the New Jersey Devils. When they were awarded a Major League Baseball expansion team in 1993, they resumed the nickname. They are called the Rockies in reference to the Rocky Mountains which surround the city of Denver.

Mascot: Dinger

 

 

Detroit Tigers - Many believed Detroit's baseball team wore stripes on their uniforms and that's why they were called the Tigers. That's one possibility. Other sources believe the team is named after the Detroit Light Guard Tigers, a former military unit that fought during the Civil War. When Detroit formed a professional football team, they were named the Lions because they shared the old Tiger Stadium with the baseball team.

Mascot: Paws

 

 

Houston Astros - Baseball in Houston began in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45s in reference to the firearms company. They changed their nickname in 1965 to the Houston Astros because Houston is where NASA trains all of their American astronauts. Astro means "star" in Greek.

Mascot: Orbit

 

 

Kansas City Royals - When the Royals began play in 1969 as an expansion team, many believed the team was honoring the old Negro league team; the Kansas City Monarchs. Actually, they were named the Royals in reference to the American Royal Livestock Show which has been held in Kansas City, MO since 1899. The Royals play in Kauffman Stadium which is named after Ewing Kauffman, the founder of the ball club.

Mascot: Sluggerrr

 

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - The Angels nickname comes from being located in Los Angeles which is also known as the "City of Angels". It also pays tribute to the old LA Angels minor league baseball team which played in the Pacific Coast League and moved to Spokane, WA in 1957.

Mascot: None. But "The Ralley Monkey" is the team's unofficial mascot.

 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers - The Dodgers originated in Brooklyn, New York before moving to Los Angeles in 1957. The team were originally nicknamed the Dodgers because Brooklyn residents were so good at dodging the trolleys when walking in the streets.

Mascot: None.

 

 

Miami Marlins - Being located on the Atlantic Ocean, Miami is a popular fishing destination. A Marlin is a popular sports fish. When the city was awarded an expansion team in 1993, they chose the Marlins as tribute to the old Miami Marlins, a Minor League team that formerly played in the Florida State League. The team changed their name from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins in 2012 when they began play in Marlins Park, their brand new and first stadium.

Mascot: Billy the Marlin

 

 

Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewers get their name from the city of Milwaukee's rich beer brewing history. Miller is the primary brewing company that made the city famous. The name also pays tribute to the old Milwaukee Brewers, a team that played in the American League many years ago before moving to St. Louis, MO.

Mascot: Bernie the Brewer, The Sausages

 

 

Minnesota Twins - Due to the close proximity of cities Minneapolis and St. Paul, this region is called the Twin Cities and is separated only by the Mississippi River. The team is thus, nicknamed the Minnesota Twins to pay tribute to both cities. Both cities had their baseball own teams in the late 1800s who were rivals of each other.

Mascot: T.C. Bear

 

 

New York Mets - During the late 1800s, there was a team called the Metropolitan Baseball Club that competed in the American Association. They weren't nearly as popular as the New York baseball Giants, who eventually moved to San Francisco to become the San Francisco Giants. The team folded in 1887. When New York was given an expansion team in 1962, they revived the old name and used the abbreviated nickname "Mets" for short.

Mascot: Mr. Met, Mrs. Met,

 

 

New York Yankees - The Yankees were originally known as the New York Highlanders (1903-1912) and the term "Yankees" was only a nickname. Yankee means "American". It has been the team's nickname since 1913 and was made popular by the news outlets. The word "Yankees" was only on the team's uniforms from 1927-1930 and has since then never been used.

Mascot: None.

 

 

Oakland Athletics - The nickname "Athletics" is the oldest nickname in Major League Baseball with origins in the 1860s. During that time period, the "Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia" was the best team in the area. They were listed as the Athletics in the standings and were called the "A's" for short. Oakland inherited the Kansas City Athletics (formerly Philadelphia Athletics) in 1968.

Mascot: Stomper

 

 

Philadelphia Phillies - Phillies is short for "Philadelphias" which is how sports writers in the old days would reference a team in the press. The word "Phillies" first appeared on the team's uniforms in 1933.

Mascot: The Phillie Phanatic

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates - When the Player's League failed in 1891 almost every player in the league returned to the National League or American Association team they originally played for. Standout Second Baseman Lou Bierbauer was expected to return to his old team, the Philadelphia Athletics. However, he never signed an official contract to come back to the team. The Pittsburgh Alleghenys manager was determined to sign Bierbauer at all costs and signed him during the winter months without the Athletics organization knowing. A league member of the American Association accused the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of being "Piratical"and unethical. The nickname caught on in Pittsburgh at the end of the 1890s.

Mascot: The Pierogis, Pirate Parrot

 

 

San Diego Padres - The word "Padre" is Spanish for father which references the Spanish missionaries that settled in the area. Like the Anaheim Angels, the San Diego Padres were a Minor League Baseball team that played in the Pacific Coast League and were formed during the 1930s. When Major League Baseball expanded to San Diego in 1969, they used the nickname of the old Minor League team. "Friars" is also a common nickname for the San Diego Padres.

Mascot: The Swinging Friar

 

 

San Francisco Giants -  San Francisco inherited the New York baseball Giants in 1957. The team was originally known as the New York Gothams. After an emotional win over the Philadelphia Athletics, long time manager Jim Mutrie told reporters that the Gothams played like "Giants" that night. The nickname stuck.

Mascot: Lou Seal

 

 

Seattle Mariners - Seattle was awarded an American League team in 1977 after old teams like the Seattle Rainiers and Seattle Pilots had left or folded. They were named Mariners in reference to the heavy fishing and other marine activities that are common in the Seattle area.

Mascot: Mariner Moose

 

 

St. Louis Cardinals - When the St. Louis Browns wanted to garner a new image, they restored their home field, signed a ton of free agents during the offseason and changed their uniform colors from brown to red. William McHale, a baseball journalist with the St. Louis Republic, referenced the team as the Cardinals in 1899 due to their red uniforms. The name stuck.

Mascot: Fredbird, Rally Squirrel

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays - Tampa's baseball team was originally known as the Devil Rays from 1998-2007. They received an expansion baseball team in 1998 along with Arizona (Diamondbacks). Manta rays are prevalent in the ocean and Tampa sits on Florida's Gulf Coast. In 2007, the organization stated that they wanted their nickname to refer to "rays of sun" and not manta rays. This was a good fit being that Florida is nicknamed "The Sunshine State". They still keep their old patch to pay homage to the days they were known as the Devil Rays. However, in center field of Tropicana Field, fans can pay a visit to a small display of Manta rays; one of the neatest features among all 30 Major League ballparks.

Mascot: DJ Kitty, Raymond

 

 

Texas Rangers - Unlike the NHL's New York Rangers, the Texas Rangers' nickname actually pays tribute to the state's history. The team was named the Rangers in 1972 in honor of Stephen F. Austin's law enforcement division and statewide paramilitary force in the 1820s. The expansion Rangers were the old Washington Senators.

Mascot: Rangers Captain

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays - The American League awarded Toronto, Ontario with a Major League expansion in 1976. The name Blue Jays was chosen by the team's front office personnel on August 12th, 1976 out of 30,000 entries and 4,000 suggested nicknames in a fan contest.

Mascot: Ace, Junior

 

 

Washington Nationals - As the Capital of this great nation, baseball teams in Washington DC have always held names attributed to the city's governing body (Olympics, Senators, Nationals). The Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas in 1972 to become the Texas Rangers. DC was without baseball until 2005 when the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, DC. The organization just revived the old "Nationals" nickname since the Texas Rangers still owned the rights to the "Senators" nickname.

Mascot: Screech, The Presidents

 

 

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