INFOGRAPHICS > Team names


September 2009
Sources:
Baltimore Orioles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_oriole
A name used for other Baltimore baseball teams in the past; named after the official bird of Maryland.

Boston Red Sox
They have red socks.

New York Yankees
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Yankees
Synonym for "American," as in American League, used by the press.

Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_Bay_Rays
http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071107&content_id=2295403&vkey=news_tb&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20071107&content_id=2295315&vkey=pr_tb&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb
Named after the manta ray (a/k/a devil ray). The name was shortened in 2008 to Rays to reference the sun's rays in the Sunshine State.

Toronto Blue Jays
http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/tor/history/timeline1.jsp
Named after the bird, selected from a name-the-team contest.

Chicago White Sox
Because they had white stockings.

Cleveland Indians
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Indians
A play on the name Braves, apparently.

Detroit Tigers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Tigers#The_Tigers
Named after the Detroit Light Guard military unit, known as "The Tigers."

Kansas City Royals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Kansas_City_Royals
Named after the American Royal Livestock Show that occurs in Kansas City; also gotta be in the bragging section because, logically, if the livestock show was called American Beef Show or American Bacon Show, the team quite likely wouldn't be called the Kansas City Bacons... or maybe they would... we'll never know...

Minnesota Twins
Representing the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. First team to named after their state not their city.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Tautologous English translation of the word "Angeles." Indeed, translating the Spanish parts of their name turns the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim into "the The Angels Angels of Anaheim."

Oakland Athletics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakland_Athletics
From the 19th century "athletics clubs."

Seattle Mariners
Lots of fishing and marine industry in the area.

Texas Rangers
After the law enforcement agency.

Atlanta Braves
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Braves
The term for an Native American warrior. The Boston Braves' then-president, James Gaffney, was a member of Tammany Hall, which used an Indian chief as its symbol.

Florida Marlins
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Marlins
Named after a local fish.

New York Mets
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Mets
Named after New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc. the corporate name, and a 19th century American Association team, the New York Metropolitans, referencing the city.

Philadelphia Phillies
Diminutive of the city name.

Washington Nationals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Washington,_D.C._professional_baseball
Referencing the six other defunct teams called the Washington Nationals in the nation's capital.

Chicago Cubs
http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nl/chicubs/cubs.html
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_are_the_Chicago_Cubs_called_the_Cubs
The team had a lot of young players at the time. Originally nicknamed Cubs by the press.

Cincinnati Reds
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cincinnati_Reds
They had red stockings, and then shortened their name.

Houston Astros
http://houston.astros.mlb.com/hou/history/hou_history_feature.jsp?story=5
Named after their then-ballpark, the Astrodome; which in turn was named to honor the local area's signifcance to the nation's space program.

Milwaukee Brewers
They make lots of beer in Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Pirates
http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/pit/history/timeline1.jsp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsburgh_Pirates#19th_century
Signed second baseman Lou Bierbaucher away from the Philadelphia Athletics much to their annoyance. An American Association official described the action as "piratical," and, later, the Pittsburgh team adopted it as their name.

St. Louis Cardinals
Named after a pretty red bird. Not so, apparently. According to their Web site, (http://mlb.mlb.com/stl/history/timeline1.jsp), in 1899, the then St. Louis Perfectos had red striped stockings and red-trimmed uniforms, "when sportswriter Willie McHale, of the St. Louis Republic, heard a lady fan remark, "What a lovely shade of cardinal," the new nickname was used in his column, and struck a chord with St. Louis fans." The color cardinal is named after the color of the Catholic cardinals' cassock, not the bird. (Thanks to Peter Stork for pointing this out.)

Arizona Diamondbacks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_Diamondbacks#Franchise_history
They held a name-the-team contest, and the winning entry refers to a local rattlesnake.

Colorado Rockies
Named, unsurprisingly, after the mountain range.

Los Angeles Dodgers
http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/history/timeline01.jsp
The term "Trolley Dodgers" was attached to the Brooklyn ballclub due to the complex maze of trolley cars that weaved its way through the borough of Brooklyn.

San Diego Padres
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego_Padres#Franchise_history
Named after the earlier Pacific Coast League team, which in turn was named for the term for Spanish missionaries in the area. Only team with an entirely non-English name.

San Francisco Giants
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_San_Francisco_Giants
After a particularly impressive win over the Phillies, manager Jim Murtie apparently called his players as "My big fellows! My giants!" and it stuck.