MLB team name origins Vol 1.
You ever think much about the history of baseball? How it’s been around for so long and who actually came up with the game, the rules and other things that go with all that? What about the history of the team names?
Great! I am going to tackle the history of the team names, where each team started out namewise and how they progressed to where they are now. This isn’t super extensive… I mean, I do have a job, a family, obligations and stuff but I am going to at least touch on things that are interesting to me!
So when did baseball teams first exist? Well, the first team that was totally professional started 143 years ago! The Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869… That wasn’t under the organized league’s of today (National and American League). The senior circuit, or the National League, started in 1876 with eight clubs, two of which are still in existence! Neither of which has the same name, also, one team was expelled and then another with the same name came back in existence although not related to the other! Interesting stuff for sure!
So in 1876 there were eight charter members of the National League:
- Chicago White Stockings
- Philadelphia Athletics
- Boston Red Stockings (or Red Caps)
- Hartford Dark Blues
- Mutual of New York
- St. Louis Brown Stockings
- Cincinnati Red Stockings
- Louisville Grays
After the 1876 season the Athletics and Mutual teams were both kicked out of the league because they refused to travel west and tried to make up their poor records against local non-league teams. They were shocked, but the League wanted to show that the rules were in place and weren’t going to be ignored…
By 1880, only the Boston and Chicago teams were still up and running. Over the years many teams entered the league and folded for various reasons…In 1882 the American Association (A.A.) began play as a rival league to the National League (N.L.). At times teams were “stolen” from the A.A. to play in the N.L. After the 1891 season the A.A. disbanded and merged with the N.L.
In 1883, The New York Gothams and Philadelphia Phillies entered the league. Both of these teams are still in existence today as well as the Boston and Chicago teams.
Other teams were added as follows:
- Pittsburgh Alleghenys (joined in 1887 from A.A.)
- Cincinnati Reds (joined in 1890 from A.A.)
- Brooklyn Grays (joined in 1890 from A.A.)
- St. Louis Brown Stockings (joined in 1892 from A.A.)
So as of 1900 the National League had a roster of eight teams that were in place without any changes until the 1952 season. Those eight teams were:
- Boston Beaneaters
- Brooklyn Superbas
- Chicago White Stockings
- Cincinnati Reds
- New York Giants
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- St. Louis Perfectos
So where does your teams name come into play here? What were they originally called?
First, because it is the senior circuit, I will go through the National League teams… As best as I can I’ll go in order of existence so I’m gonna start out with the two teams that are still in existence from the original eight charter league members…
Atlanta Braves– The Braves are one of the two oldest franchises in baseball history, albeit they don’t have the same name and aren’t in the same city! Either way, the franchise started in 1876 in Boston where they were known as the Boston Red Stockings or Red Caps, they changed to the Beaneaters in 1883. In 1912 because of another team in town going by the Red Sox they changed their name to the Boston Braves and as the Braves they won the World Series in their miracle 1914 season.
In 1935 the name was changed to the Boston Bees by new management in hopes of a reversal of fortune. After five years as the Bees more new owners changed the name back to the Braves. In 1953 the Braves moved to Milwaukee where they won a World Series in 1957. Lastly, the team relocated to Atlanta in 1966 where they won the World Series in 1995.
A little known fact about this franchise, one player played for them in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta! Eddie Mathews did it! He played the last season of the Boston years, all of the Milwaukee years and the first season of the Atlanta years!
Chicago Cubs– The Cubs are the other of the oldest franchises in baseball history. They are the longest tenured in one city as well. The Cubs started out in 1876 as the Chicago White Stockings! Interesting, always thought that would’ve been the White Sox! Well, we both learned something already! They went by the White Stockings but by 1890 they were going by the name the Chicago Colts. They were a top notch winning machine with star Cap Anson, when he left the team they lacked leadership and then became known as the Chicago Orphans… In 1902 the club was purchased and the name was changed to the Chicago Cubs. They were the first team to ever win back to back World Series titles when they won in back to back years in 1907 and 1908…
A little known fact about the Cubs, the Cubs played the Red Sox in the 1918 World Series, the last that the Red Sox won for 86 years as they sold off their star pitcher Babe Ruth after the season!
Volume 2 to follow very shortly, didn’t want this to be to terribly long!
Here’s the link for Volume 2. MLB team name origins Vol. 2