The Sports Daily > Cards Diaspora
MLB Nickname History

Loyal reader of the CD Bo S. from Colorado sent along this information on how MLB teams got their nicknames yesterday. Since the Cardinals actually beat (the expansion Nationals) another team last night, let’s snark at history and forget the re-cap…

If you really need to watch the highlights, do so. LINK HERE

I picked a selected few teams that I really had no idea about, sans the Cardinals, and posted them from his e-mail below. Enjoy…

KC ROYALS: When Kansas City was awarded an expansion franchise in 1969, club officials chose Royals from more than 17,000 entries in a name-the-team contest. Sanford Porte, one of 547 fans who submitted Royals, was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to the All-Star Game. Porte submitted the name because of “Kansas City’s position as the nation’s leading stocker and feeder market and the nationally known American Royal Livestock and Horse Show.”

Comment: I’m embarrassed this city is in my state. Cow Town.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES: After the Players’ League collapsed in 1890, the National League’s Pittsburgh club signed two players, including Lou Bierbauer, whom the Philadelphia Athletics had forgotten to place on their reserve list. A Philadelphia sportswriter claimed that Pittsburgh “pirated away Bierbauer” and the Pirates nickname was born.

Comment: Some would say that the Pirates fan base’s collective rear ends have been pirated over the past decade.

STL CARDINALS: In 1899, the St. Louis Browns became the St. Louis Perfectos. That season, Willie McHale, a columnist for the St. Louis Republic reportedly heard a woman refer to the team’s red stockings as a “lovely shade of Cardinal.” McHale included the nickname in his column and it was an instant hit among fans. The team officially changed its nickname in 1900.

Comment: Imagine this happening in 2010. Pro sports teams just going with whatever fans are talking about in the stands and the press picks up on as their nickname. We’d probably have many teams named ‘lazy motherfuckers’.

NY YANKEES: In 1903, the original Baltimore Orioles moved to New York, where they became the Highlanders. As was common at the time, the team, which played in the American League, was also known as the New York Americans. New York Press editor Jim Price coined the nickname Yanks, or Yankees, in 1904 because it was easier to fit in headlines.

Comment: Papers were important! Those old people weren’t lying.

HOUSTON ASTROS: Houston’s baseball team was originally known as the Colt .45’s, but team president Judge Roy Hofheinz made a change “in keeping with the times” in 1965. Citing Houston’s status as “the space age capital of the world,” Hofheinz settled on Astros. “With our new domed stadium, we think it will also make Houston the sports capital of the world,” Hofheinz said. The change was likely also motivated by pressure from the Colt Firearms Company, which objected to the use of the Colt .45 nickname.

Comment: Guns and space. Only in Texas. Let me be clear about this… if this team was still the Colt .45’s, it would triple the total jersey sales in the hood. If not quadruple. In fact, I’m a skinny white nerd and want a Colt .45’s hat.

CHICAGO CUBS: Chicago’s first professional baseball team was known as the Chicago White Stockings. When the team began to sell off its experienced players in the late 1880s, local newspapers began to refer to the club as Anson’s Colts, a reference to player-manager Cap Anson’s roster of youngsters. By 1890, Colts had caught on and Chicago’s team had a new nickname. When Anson left the team in 1897, the Colts became known as the Orphans, a depressing nickname if there ever was one. When Frank Selee took over managerial duties of Chicago’s youthful roster in 1902, a local newspaper dubbed the team the Cubs and the name stuck.

Comment: A lame story for a lame franchise. Wouldn’t expect any less.