sportsfan7

Teams that Changed their Nickname without Relocating

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The recent discussions surrounding the possible name-changes of the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers got me thinking about teams that changed their name without relocating. You could think of this as the sequel to a thread I did on here ~6 weeks ago, for teams that kept their nickname after relocating.

https://boards.sportslogos.net/topic/121884-teams-that-relocated-but-kept-their-nickname/

 

Before I begin, I wanted to clarify some of my ground-rules:

1. If a team changed names multiple times, they were evaluated as a group.

2. On the flip side, teams were only allowed one pre-WWI name change. I don't intend to write about the 8 name changes the Dodgers went through in their first 30 years.

3. The teams have to have been in the top league (or co-top league) at the time of the name change and the franchise must still be in existence.

4. This does not include identifier/location changes without moving (think what the Angels have been doing). However, if a team changed both the location and nickname without moving they count (This only happens once).

 

I found 32 eligible changes from the 5 major-leagues + plus surviving AFL, ABA, and WHA teams. 4 of these will be unranked because they deal with Native American team names and I don't want this thread to end up locked.

 

Also, a word on how I'm "grading" the changes. In general, I'm trying to view things as when the change happened. Some brands may have gone on to become iconic, but are near the bottom (7 of the most iconic baseball nicknames occupy the bottom 9 spots. Side note, this list is very baseball heavy with 13 teams), others near the top, not so much. I usually look a the following things when evaluating the change:

1. Why did they get rid of the old name? Esp. Did the fans want a new name?

2. How much did people like the old name? Was it around for 10 years and the only name the team had known? Was it only there for a year and the latest in a long string of changes? How successful was the team with the old name?

3. How much better is the new name? Does it have historical significance? Is it unique? Does it tie into the area? Note: Of the 32 teams I ranked, I think 31 of them were an improvement. When teams rebrand, they set out to make themselves seem better, not worse. The real question is, who did it best?

 

The unranked teams will be up shortly.

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Unranked Teams

The following teams are unranked because they involve Native American nicknames.

Cleveland Naps → Cleveland Indians
Calling themselves the Naps or Napoleons after Player-Manager Nap Lajoie, Cleveland found themselves in a pickle after the 1914 season, when Lajoie was traded after a falling out with management. Owner Charles Sommers asked several local baseball writers for a new name and they suggested Indians, after Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot man who had played for the Cleveland Spiders in the 1800s. The Spiders are most famous for their 1899 season, when they went 20-134 (.130 Winning Percentage) the worst in Major League history. The Spiders folded after the season.
Boston Braves → Boston Redskins
The franchise soon-to-be formerly known as the Washington Redskins was originally named the Boston Braves because they played at Braves Field, home of the NL’s Boston Braves. The team made the switch to Redskins after one season, in 1933, when they moved cross-town to Fenway Park. Three theories exist for why the team chose the Redskins moniker. The first is that it was a combination of Braves and Red Sox. The second is that it was to honor the team’s coach Lone Star Dietz, a White man masquerading as a Sioux. The third and final theory is that it was to honor an unnamed Native American player on the team.
Boston Braves → Boston Bees → Boston Braves
The Boston Braves got their name in 1912, from Tammany Hall, the New York City Democratic Political Machine, which owner James Gaffney was a member of. The Hall’s symbol is an Indian Chief. In 1935, after many years of poor performance and attendance, owner Emil Fuchs (He bought the team in 1923 as a way to get Christy Matthewson re-involved with baseball) bought Babe Ruth from the Yankees. The gimmick failed and the Bambino retired on June 2nd, leaving the team with a 9-27 or 10-27 record (I’ve seen it both ways) and having a .181 batting average for the season. The team managed to get worse from there, finishing 38-115, a .248 winning percentage, the 2nd worst since 1900. Fuchs sold the teams at the end of the season to Bob Quinn, who decided to freshen things up and rename the team the Bees. As far as I can tell, the fans chose the name. The team improved only slightly and Quinn sold the team to Lou Perini in 1941, who changed the name back to Braves.
Chicago Black Hawks → Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks were originally named so because owner and founder Frederic McLaughlin served in the Blackhawk Division, named after Chief Black Hawk, in World War 1. In 1986, while going through official team documents, someone discovered that the official name was Blackhawks, whereas the team had been going by Black Hawks for the previous 60 years.
 

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"Black Hawks" has always looked much better to me. It looked nice with Red Wings, Maple Leafs, and North Stars. The various places and things around the Midwest that are named for the chief seem to be split between one word and two, so there's never really been a consensus on it.

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32. MetroStars → New York Red Bulls
Originally the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, the team made the switch to MetroStars after 2 seasons, in 1998. The name was inspired by Metromedia, founded by owner John Kluge. In 2006, the franchise was sold to Red Bull, who rebranded the team. At one point the team was officially named Red Bull New York, but I have been unable to find anything to confirm or deny whether this is still the case. Either way, the team has always been referred to as the New York Red Bulls. This name is a clear downgrade. Ignoring the issues with the identifier (Two place names to zero to the name of a state they don’t even play in), this team name still sucks. I mean, they’re named after an energy drink. Was MetroStars good? Eh, I like it more on its own instead of with New York/New Jersey shoehorned in front of it. Would I have preferred the return of the Cosmos? Absolutely.

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Good topic

 

There are all sorts of deadball-era MLB changes.  Some of the teams didn't really have names or had semi-official names (like the Naps you mention).  I'm sure that's why a lot of them will rank near the bottom as you allude to.  It shows the early days of "sports marketing," or maybe the "pre-marketing" sports days.  I believe the (now) Red Sox won the first World Series as the Boston Americans because they were from Boston and were in the American League (Or maybe they did not have a name)? 

 

My #1 would almost certainly be Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to Anaheim Ducks (a reflection of the name; not the logos/unis).

 

EDIT: While writing this you posted your number 32.  Totally agree. I hope it doesn't seep into the Big 4.  I don't want the Atlanta Hawks to become the Atlanta Cola.

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A close call was the Phillies, who considered changing to Blue Jays in the early 40s, and even put Blue Jay logos on their uniforms to test it out, but decided not to change (their jerseys still said Phillies for the few years they tried this.)

 

PHILS_JAYS_LOGO1.jpgscarce-1943-44-philadelphia-blue-jays_1_

 

1944_PHILLIES_PROGRAM_1280_c716iw61_u205

 

 

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1 hour ago, OnWis97 said:

Good topic

 

There are all sorts of deadball-era MLB changes.  Some of the teams didn't really have names or had semi-official names (like the Naps you mention).  I'm sure that's why a lot of them will rank near the bottom as you allude to.  It shows the early days of "sports marketing," or maybe the "pre-marketing" sports days.  I believe the (now) Red Sox won the first World Series as the Boston Americans because they were from Boston and were in the American League (Or maybe they did not have a name)? 

 

My #1 would almost certainly be Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to Anaheim Ducks (a reflection of the name; not the logos/unis).

 

EDIT: While writing this you posted your number 32.  Totally agree. I hope it doesn't seep into the Big 4.  I don't want the Atlanta Hawks to become the Atlanta Cola.

There are a ton of these changes in the early days of MLB. As far as the official nicknames go, it is hard to find a definitive source for these. Since teams changed every couple of years, writers would often use multiple nicknames in the same story. I tried to keep this official names only, but made exceptions if a team didn't have a nickname but was commonly called something. This applies to the Americans, legally just Boston, but called the Americans for the first couple years, as well as the team in my next post.

 

The Mighty Ducks are interesting, they are near the top, but get beat out by a few teams changing to names used by an old team in the area or getting rid of a problematic, but non-Native, nickname.

 

31. Brooklyn Robins → Brooklyn Dodgers
Legally known as the Brooklyn Baseball Club for most of their history, the team was given many nicknames, both official and unofficial, throughout its history. In 1914, the club hired Wilbert Robinson as manager and the team acquired the name Robins. When Robinson retired following the 1931 season, the team needed a new nickname. Dodgers was chosen, a shortening of Trolley Dodgers, one of the team's many unofficial nicknames. The nickname refers to the high-speed trolleys in Brooklyn that often had to be dodged by pedestrians. This name change comes in second-to-last because one of them had to. To be honest, outside of the Red Bulls, none of the name changes are that bad. With that said, the name Robins had been around for a while and there were no problems with it. The team had been named in honor of their manager and the team decided that once he moved on, it was time for them to as well. I like the name Robins because it is unique, there are no other sports teams using it (Although the Bucks almost did). Dodgers is a better kind of unique, named after something semi-specific to their area.
 

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5 minutes ago, sportsfan7 said:

There are a ton of these changes in the early days of MLB. As far as the official nicknames go, it is hard to find a definitive source for these. Since teams changed every couple of years, writers would often use multiple nicknames in the same story. I tried to keep this official names only, but made exceptions if a team didn't have a nickname but was commonly called something. This applies to the Americans, legally just Boston, but called the Americans for the first couple years, as well as the team in my next post.

 

The Mighty Ducks are interesting, they are near the top, but get beat out by a few teams changing to names used by an old team in the area or getting rid of a problematic, but non-Native, nickname.

 

31. Brooklyn Robins → Brooklyn Dodgers
Legally known as the Brooklyn Baseball Club for most of their history, the team was given many nicknames, both official and unofficial, throughout its history. In 1914, the club hired Wilbert Robinson as manager and the team acquired the name Robins. When Robinson retired following the 1931 season, the team needed a new nickname. Dodgers was chosen, a shortening of Trolley Dodgers, one of the team's many unofficial nicknames. The nickname refers to the high-speed trolleys in Brooklyn that often had to be dodged by pedestrians. This name change comes in second-to-last because one of them had to. To be honest, outside of the Red Bulls, none of the name changes are that bad. With that said, the name Robins had been around for a while and there were no problems with it. The team had been named in honor of their manager and the team decided that once he moved on, it was time for them to as well. I like the name Robins because it is unique, there are no other sports teams using it (Although the Bucks almost did). Dodgers is a better kind of unique, named after something semi-specific to their area.
 

I love the Dodgers name (for Brooklyn, anyway...I suppose in LA they dodge cars).

 

I grew up in Robbinsdale, MN.  My dad graduated from Robbinsdale High School, home of the Robins.  It had closed by the time I went to high school.  (I swear I won't reply every time, the mention of the uniqueness of "Robins" prompted me.

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30. St. Louis Perfectos → St. Louis Cardinals
After spending their first 16 years as the Brown Stockings or Browns (A name that would later be revived by the American League team in St Louis), the franchise changed their name to Perfectos in 1899. Owner Chris van der Ahe had fallen on hard times, part of the ballpark had burnt down and he was kidnapped after falling behind on debt payments. The German immigrant who saved the team from bankruptcy and declared himself the “Millionaire Sportsman” was forced to sell the team. Van der Ahe went bankrupt shortly after and became a bartender. The new owners of the Browns, the Robinson brothers, renamed the team the Perfectos and gave them new uniforms, in Cardinal Red. The owners changed the name to distance themselves from van der Ahe, but the reasoning behind Perfectos remains a mystery. After the 1899 season the NL contracted from 12 teams to 8, cutting the Cleveland Spiders, who were also owned by the Robinsons and had just finished the worst season in Major League history. The Perfectos also changed their name after the 1899 season to Cardinals, allegedly after a sportswriter heard a woman remark “What a lovely shade of Cardinal”. Perfectos is a pretty cool name, but didn’t have any staying power with the fans. If they needed a name change, it would’ve been nice to go back to the Browns, who had played in 4 World Series, winning 1, tying 1, and losing 2. The Cardinals is a pretty generic name, even if it does have a nice story behind it.

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29. Pittsburgh Alleghenys → Pittsburgh Pirates
First as Allegheny, and then the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, the franchise now known as the Pittsburgh Pirates was initially named after the neighboring city of Allegheny City, where they played (Allegheny City was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907 despite voting nearly 2 to 1 against it. However, the annexation was approved because over 50% of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City residents combined voted in favor. Today the Pirates play in what was formerly Allegheny City). The team changed their name to Pirates after the 1890 season. The upstart Players’ League had folded after just one year, and teams were allowed to reclaim the players who had jumped ship. In addition to claiming their own players, the Alleghanys claimed Louis Bierbauer. Bierbauer had played for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association (The Alleghanys had moved from the AA to the National League 3 years prior), but was left off of their Reserve List, effectively making him a free agent after the Players’ League folded. This was described as “piratical”, leading fans to call the team the Pirates. Alleghany was definitely a unique name and a way to acknowledge the city they played in. At first glance, Pirates doesn’t seem to fit in Pittsburgh, but it has a great backstory.

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On 7/7/2020 at 12:05 AM, sportsfan7 said:

The recent discussions surrounding the possible name-changes of the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers got me thinking about teams that changed their name without relocating. You could think of this as the sequel to a thread I did on here ~6 weeks ago, for teams that kept their nickname after relocating.

https://boards.sportslogos.net/topic/121884-teams-that-relocated-but-kept-their-nickname/

 

Before I begin, I wanted to clarify some of my ground-rules:

1. If a team changed names multiple times, they were evaluated as a group.

2. On the flip side, teams were only allowed one pre-WWI name change. I don't intend to write about the 8 name changes the Dodgers went through in their first 30 years.

3. The teams have to have been in the top league (or co-top league) at the time of the name change and the franchise must still be in existence.

4. This does not include identifier/location changes without moving (think what the Angels have been doing). However, if a team changed both the location and nickname without moving they count (This only happens once).

 

I found 32 eligible changes from the 5 major-leagues + plus surviving AFL, ABA, and WHA teams. 4 of these will be unranked because they deal with Native American team names and I don't want this thread to end up locked.

 

Also, a word on how I'm "grading" the changes. In general, I'm trying to view things as when the change happened. Some brands may have gone on to become iconic, but are near the bottom (7 of the most iconic baseball nicknames occupy the bottom 9 spots. Side note, this list is very baseball heavy with 13 teams), others near the top, not so much. I usually look a the following things when evaluating the change:

1. Why did they get rid of the old name? Esp. Did the fans want a new name?

2. How much did people like the old name? Was it around for 10 years and the only name the team had known? Was it only there for a year and the latest in a long string of changes? How successful was the team with the old name?

3. How much better is the new name? Does it have historical significance? Is it unique? Does it tie into the area? Note: Of the 32 teams I ranked, I think 31 of them were an improvement. When teams rebrand, they set out to make themselves seem better, not worse. The real question is, who did it best?

 

The unranked teams will be up shortly.

 

On 7/7/2020 at 12:05 AM, sportsfan7 said:

The recent discussions surrounding the possible name-changes of the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers got me thinking about teams that changed their name without relocating. You could think of this as the sequel to a thread I did on here ~6 weeks ago, for teams that kept their nickname after relocating.

https://boards.sportslogos.net/topic/121884-teams-that-relocated-but-kept-their-nickname/

 

Before I begin, I wanted to clarify some of my ground-rules:

1. If a team changed names multiple times, they were evaluated as a group.

2. On the flip side, teams were only allowed one pre-WWI name change. I don't intend to write about the 8 name changes the Dodgers went through in their first 30 years.

3. The teams have to have been in the top league (or co-top league) at the time of the name change and the franchise must still be in existence.

4. This does not include identifier/location changes without moving (think what the Angels have been doing). However, if a team changed both the location and nickname without moving they count (This only happens once).

 

I found 32 eligible changes from the 5 major-leagues + plus surviving AFL, ABA, and WHA teams. 4 of these will be unranked because they deal with Native American team names and I don't want this thread to end up locked.

 

Also, a word on how I'm "grading" the changes. In general, I'm trying to view things as when the change happened. Some brands may have gone on to become iconic, but are near the bottom (7 of the most iconic baseball nicknames occupy the bottom 9 spots. Side note, this list is very baseball heavy with 13 teams), others near the top, not so much. I usually look a the following things when evaluating the change:

1. Why did they get rid of the old name? Esp. Did the fans want a new name?

2. How much did people like the old name? Was it around for 10 years and the only name the team had known? Was it only there for a year and the latest in a long string of changes? How successful was the team with the old name?

3. How much better is the new name? Does it have historical significance? Is it unique? Does it tie into the area? Note: Of the 32 teams I ranked, I think 31 of them were an improvement. When teams rebrand, they set out to make themselves seem better, not worse. The real question is, who did it best?

 

The unranked teams will be up shortly.

Who Said the Rangers were changing their name? Where did you get that from

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38 minutes ago, Bruhammydude said:

 

Who Said the Rangers were changing their name? Where did you get that from

I said there was discussion of it. They have since stated that they will keep that name, but there was a push a few weeks ago to review and change it, spurned by this article;

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/steve-chapman/ct-column-texas-rangers-brutality-statue-chapman-20200617-bani5arbkfh67onjd6a6mdl36m-story.html?int=lat_digitaladshouse_bx-modal_acquisition-subscriber_ngux_display-ad-interstitial_bx-bonus-story_______

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28. New York Gothams → New York Giants
The New York Gothams were founded in 1883 and were named after Batman’s Hometown the nickname for NYC. During the 1884 season, after a victory over the Phillies, Manager Jim Mutrie allegedly exclaimed “My big fellows! My giants!” This supposedly led to the team being known as the Giants, beginning with the 1885 season, although there is evidence that the name had been used by sportswriters before Mutrie’s remark. Gothams would be a pretty sweet nickname nowadays, but didn’t carry the same meaning back then, and the name had only been in use for 2 seasons. With that being said, Giants is about as generic of a nickname you can get.
 

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27. New York Highlanders → New York Yankees
The franchise was named the Highlanders after relocating from Baltimore in 1903, either because they played at Hilltop Park, or because Team President Joseph Gordon wanted to honor his Scottish heritage and the Gordon Highlanders. Either way, the team had a multitude of unofficial nicknames, including the Americans (After the league they played in), the Invaders (Because they “invaded” the already established Giants territory), and the Yanks (Easier to fight into headlines than Americans). After their lease ended in 1913, the team moved a few blocks away to the Polo Grounds, one of the lowest points in Manhattan. This led to the team dropping the Highlanders name and adopting Yankees. Even if they didn’t stay at Hilltop Park, I still like the name Highlanders because it's unique and could’ve been an earlier version of Celtics. Yankee, on the other hand, could be applied to any team in the Northeast.

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26. Boston Americans → Boston Red Sox
Originally having no official nickname, but being widely considered as the Boston Americans, the team was renamed the Red Sox after the Boston Red Stockings, who had since rebranded as the Boston Doves. In 1907, the team was called both the Americans and the Pilgrims. Also in 1907, the Boston Doves (Eventually the Braves), who were still called the Red Stockings or Red Caps unofficially, removed red from their uniforms. Jumping at the chance to give themselves an official nickname with some history, the Americans/Pilgrims rebranded as the Red Sox. There is nothing inherently wrong with Americans and I am usually in favor of a team using an out-of-use name with historical value or significance. However, unlike almost every other case, the Red Stockings were still in Boston, just under a different name. The team was also still called the Red Stockings by fans. There were better options than Americans, although none of the other unofficial nicknames are inspiring, including Plymouth Rocks, Somersets, and Collinsites. I think it would’ve been ok if they remained the Americans, the name with which they won the first World Series.

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I think I asked this in your last thread, will the Tennessee Oilers be on this list?

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47 minutes ago, Ark said:

I think I asked this in your last thread, will the Tennessee Oilers be on this list?

Yes

 

25. Chicago Orphans → Chicago Cubs
After the 1897 season, Cap Anson retired from playing professional baseball after 28 seasons. He had played for the Chicago National League franchise for its entire history, beginning in 1876, and had managed them for the last 18 years. Anson was known for many things, some good, starting Spring Training, some bad, betting on his own games, and some ugly, constructing the color barrier. His retirement affected the Colts, who adopted the name Orphans, as they were without their “Pop”. After 4 seasons, the team started to be referred to as the Cubs because they had a large number of young players on the team. The team officially became the Cubs at the start of the 1907 season. Orphans was definitely a quirky nickname, but it may have been time for it to go. The team waited a year too long to reclaim its original moniker, White Stockings, but it would have made sense to revert back to Colts.

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14 hours ago, sportsfan7 said:

Yes

 

25. Chicago Orphans → Chicago Cubs
His retirement affected the Colts, who adopted the name Orphans, as they were without their “Pop”. After 4 seasons, the team started to be referred to as the Cubs because they had a large number of young players on the team. The team officially became the Cubs at the start of the 1907 season.

 

I thought it was because they lost a turf war with a gang of the same name or am I am thinking of something else?

orphan+3.jpg

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@BringBackTheVet They may not have become the Blue Jays, but the Phillies still make an appearance on this list.

 

Also, this is the 8th straight baseball one and the last one for awhile.

 

24. Philadelphia Quakers → Philadelphia Phillies
Founded in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers, presumably due to the city's historical ties to the religion, the team quickly put up the worst season in the history of the losingest franchise in professional sports (Although they obviously didn’t know it at the time). The team spent the next few years being called the Quakers, Philadelphians, and Phillies. In 1890, the team officially became the Philadelphia Phillies, a shortening of Philadelphians used to save space in newspapers. Quakers is a nice name and ties in nicely to the city. On the other hand, Phillies is pleasing to the ear, but doesn’t really represent anything. Their logo is a wordmark over the Liberty Bell and their legendary mascot is a green bird (The Phillies have been trending upwards with mascots. They started with the Hot Pants Patrol and then Phil and Phyllis, a pair of colonial-era people, before adopting the Phillie Phanatic).

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1 hour ago, sportsfan7 said:

@BringBackTheVet They may not have become the Blue Jays, but the Phillies still make an appearance on this list.

 

Also, this is the 8th straight baseball one and the last one for awhile.

 

24. Philadelphia Quakers → Philadelphia Phillies
Founded in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers, presumably due to the city's historical ties to the religion, the team quickly put up the worst season in the history of the losingest franchise in professional sports (Although they obviously didn’t know it at the time). The team spent the next few years being called the Quakers, Philadelphians, and Phillies. In 1890, the team officially became the Philadelphia Phillies, a shortening of Philadelphians used to save space in newspapers. Quakers is a nice name and ties in nicely to the city. On the other hand, Phillies is pleasing to the ear, but doesn’t really represent anything. Their logo is a wordmark over the Liberty Bell and their legendary mascot is a green bird (The Phillies have been trending upwards with mascots. They started with the Hot Pants Patrol and then Phil and Phyllis, a pair of colonial-era people, before adopting the Phillie Phanatic).

It's a bird?

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