History of Some MLB Team Nicknames
One of the fun things about baseball history is learning that those MLB Baseball team nicknames you know and love were not necessarily the ones that the team started with. What is especially fun about the history of baseball team names is learning just how weird some of the original names were!Fun things about baseball history: MLB Team Names
San Francisco Giants
First off, the team used to be known as the New York Giants. But long before the move to San Francisco, the team was known as the New York Gothams. And then one day the manager of the Gothams referred to his powerhouse team as “my big fellows, my giants.” And like that, baseball history was changed.
One of the really fun pieces of baseball history is that the Chicago Cubs used to be known as the Chicago White Stockings. Which is the original version of the name that the Chicago White Sox were known by. The White Sox were only able to grab the name because the original Chicago White Stockings first changed their named to the Colts before making the bewildering change to the Orphans before finally becoming the Cubs.
New York Yankees
The Yankees are considered by many people to be the most successful franchise. Imagine, if you will, referring to the House that Ruth Built as Highlander Stadium or Hilltopper Stadium. Both names referred to the location of the Washington Heights ballpark at point call the Hilltop. The change to the much more resonant nickname Yankees was the result of New York Press sportswriters trying to fit New York Highlanders or New York Hilltoppers into the confined space of headlines. That and a temporary move to the bottomland location occupied by the Polo Grounds quickened the transformation of the Highlanders into the Yankees equally loved and hated today.
Some fun things about baseball history skirt on the razor thin ice of tragedy. If not for CBS New correspondent Edward R. Murrow, chief counsel for the U.S. Army Joseph Welch, radio personality John Henry Faulk and other brave Americans who stood up against Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the Cincinnati Reds might today still be known by the name it was coerced by fear into taking for a while during the 1950s: the Redlegs. The brief change in nickname from Reds to Redlegs was a direct response to the insanity of Red Scare. So inexplicably powerful was the Communist Witch Hunt for a time that it could actually force one of the oldest Major League Baseball teams in existence to change the nickname it had sported more than half a century out of fear of the negative connotation the term “reds” had suddenly taken on.
If you peer closely at any map, you will see that Pittsburgh is about as far away from any sea where pirates ruled the waves as any city with a baseball team in the 1800s could get. Not only did the Pittsburgh Pirates not start life with the nickname Pirates, they didn’t even start out in Pittsburgh! Since their home park was in the nearby city of Allegheny, PA, they were known simply as the Alleghenys. They were still called the Pittsburgh Alleghenys during the 1890 season at the end of which they signed two players from the Philadelphia Athletics. Accused of pirating the players from a rival league, the description not only stuck but became one of those fun things about baseball history nicknames such as the fact that there are no tigers in Detroit.