If you’ve made it through the first four volumes of this series, then kudos to you and welcome to Volume 5. I’ve finished up the original charter franchises of the American League and got into expansion as well! I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am! This is another volume that includes some really cool and odd name origins and changes as well. You’ll be surprised!
Again if you’ve missed anything, here are links to the previous articles:
On with the show!
The Detroit Tigers– The Tigers entered the American League in 1901 as the Detroit Tigers. They were originally in the Western League, also known there as the Tigers. The Tigers have been to the World Series ten times and won four in the following years: 1935, 1945, 1968, and 1984.
Little known fact- The Tigers are the only team from the Western League to play in their original location as well as under the same name.
Baltimore Orioles– The Orioles started out in 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers! Why didn’t the Yankees just start here, or stay in Baltimore for that matter?! Anyways, after one year in Milwaukee, the Brewers moved to St. Louis where they became the Browns. The Browns stayed in St. Louis for 52 years until they moved to Baltimore in 1954. They took the name Orioles after the state bird of Maryland. The Orioles franchise has played in seven World Series’ (One while in St. Louis, 1944), walking away as winners three times. They won in 1966, 1970 and 1983.
Little known fact- There was a Baltimore Orioles team that played in Baltimore and called themselves the Orioles, actually there were two! One in each league! The NL team was contracted out of the league in 1899 and the AL team of course, moved to New York where they ended up being the Yankees.
Oakland Athletics– Better known as the A’s, the Athletics franchise started out in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They moved to Kansas City in 1955 where they spent thirteen futile seasons before moving to Oakland as the Athletics in 1968. In 1973 the Athletics were officially renamed the A’s before shifting back to the Athletics for the 1981 season. The A’s have played in the World Series fifteen different times in franchise history. They won the series in 1910-11, 1913, 1929-30, 1972-74 and 1989.
Little known fact- The A’s use an elephant as part of their logo, seems odd for Athletics right? John McGraw had told reporters that a new owner had a “white elephant on his hands”, when he did the team ended up running with it and within a few years the A’s were wearing an elephant logo on their sweaters!
Minnesota Twins– The Twins franchise is one of the original eight charter American League franchises, they entered the league as the Washington Senators or Nationals. They went by the Senators and used the Nationals as a nickname but in 1905-06 they actually went to just being called the Nationals. The media continued to call them the Senators for the most part and the name eventually faded. The Senators stayed in Washington until 1960 when Minnesota was given an expansion team, when this happened the owner of the Senators/Nationals asked to move his team to Minnesota and give Washington the expansion franchise. In 1961 the Minnesota Twins debuted in the American League. To this day the Twins franchise has played in six World Series and walked away with three World Series championships. They won the Series once in Washington in 1924 and twice in Minnesota during the 1987 and 1991 seasons.
Little known fact- The Senators franchise didn’t use the name Senators on their jerseys until 1959!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim– In 1961, Major League baseball gave Los Angeles an expansion franchise and although the major league team started in 1961, the Angels name goes back to the end of the 19th century! The Angels name has been passed down through baseball history to be honest with you. When L.A. got the franchise they took the name Angels from the minor league team that had existed there since 1903 and they even had some players from that Pacific Coast League team join the MLB team in its inaugural season! The way the Angels got the name goes back into MLB history, Gene Autry purchased the rights to the name Angels from former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley who had acquired the Angels from Phil Wrigley, the owner of the Cubs at the time! The name ultimately began in 1892 which gives them the distinction of being the longest running Los Angeles sports team in history! Also added to this is the fact that the name was ultimately passed down from Wrigley, O’Malley and on to Autry. Either way, the Angels started in 1961 in the major leagues as the Los Angeles Angels playing in Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The following year they moved into Chavez Ravine where they shared the stadium with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During the 1965 season the Angels changed their name from the Los Angeles Angels to the California Angels. In 1966 they moved to Anaheim and remained the California Angels until they again changed the name to the Anaheim Angels. In 2005 the Angels began to go by the name the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to acknowledge their history.
Little known fact- The St. Louis Browns were granted permission from the American League to move to Los Angeles for the 1942 season, a schedule was prepared as well but when Pearl Harbor was bombed the opportunity faded away.
Okay, so maybe I spent a little bit of extra space on the Angels, so sue me! They are my favorite team!
I’ve just got to say that this topic is really fascinating to me, when I first read what the New York Yankees were called it blew my mind! That’s coming soon enough though…
First off, if you missed the first two parts of this, go here…
All of the teams that we’ve went over so far were the only National League teams out there 1900 through 1952… In 1962 for the first time ever Major League Baseball added expansion teams. The two National league teams were the Houston Colt 45’s and the New York Mets. So obviously we will start with them!
Houston Astros– The Houston Colt 45’s were the first major league team to show up in the Lone Star state of Texas. They were called the Colt 45’s for their first three years and then they changed to the Astros when they moved into the Astrodome. They have been in the World Series once, in 2005. They have been in the National League for all of these years but beginning in the 2013 season they will be moving to the A.L. West division.
Little known fact about the Astros… The people who were trying to get a pro team in Houston, when turned down for a pro franchise, decided to start up a league to compete with the American and National league. They were going to call it the Continental League! MLB, wanting to protect other potential new markets for the future decided to expand each league from 8 teams to 10.
New York Mets– The Mets have always been called the Mets. New York was awarded the franchise to make up for the loss of the Giants and Dodgers a few years earlier. They have won the World Series twice, in 1969 and 1986.
Little known fact… The Mets played their first two years in the Polo Grounds, the home of New York Yankees from 1912-22 as well as the New York Giants from 1883-1957.
In 1969 the National League expanded again with the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres.
Washington Nationals– In 1969, for the first time , major league baseball had a team outside of the United States… I know what you’re thinking, the Washington Nationals aren’t outside of the United States! But the Montreal Expos are. Just in case you forgot, the Nationals started out their journey in Montreal as the Expos. They were there from 1969 until they were moved to Washington to continue as the Nationals for the 2005 season. The Nationals have never made the World Series as either the Expos or Nationals.
Little known fact- In 1982, the MLB all-star game was played outside of the United States for the first time in Montreal.
San Diego Padres– In 1969, the Padres were the first National League team to originate in California. They’ve been called the Padres from their onset and have been to the World Series twice, in 1984 and in 1998.
Little known fact- Before the 1974 season the Padres were almost sold to an owner who was going to move the team to Washington D.C.
In 1993 MLB expanded for the first time since 1969 by adding two new teams to states that had no major league teams in their history, Colorado and Florida.
Colorado Rockies– In 1993 Colorado was given a major league franchise, they reside in Denver, the Colorado Rockies. They’ve been called the Rockies from their outset and have been to one World Series, in 2007.
Little known fact- Because of a lack of investors after the team was given to Denver the Rockies were almost moved to Tampa Bay before they ever played a game in Colorado!
Miami Marlins– The Marlins originated in 1993 as the Florida Marlins and have changed their name to the Miami Marlins effective for the 2012 season. They went to the World Series and won in 1997 as well as in 2003.
Not a little known fact- The Marlins currently have the ugliest uniforms in baseball.
Arizona Diamondbacks– In 1998 the Diamondbacks, or D-Backs as they are also know came into the National League. They’ve had the same name ever since their inception. They have been to and won one World Series, in 2001.
Little known fact- The Diamondbacks won a World Series faster than any other expansion team, doing it in only their 4th year of existence.
Milwaukee Brewers– The Brewers have one of the most unique histories in recent history. They started out in the American League in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots. They played in Seattle for that one lone year and after ending up in bankruptcy court and being acquired by now commissioner Bud Selig were moved to Milwaukee. The Brewers stayed in the American League until 1997 when they were moved to the National League due to the fact that there would have been an odd number of teams in each league which would mean one team had to be off at all times. The Brewers have been to one World Series, in 1982.
Little known fact- The Brewers were the second team offered to move to the National League.
Okay, so now that we’ve gotten all of the National League teams out of the way I can now start on the American League teams! So far this has been a really neat learning experience on the history of the names in baseball. There are lots of cool stories involved and I look forward to sharing more of them in the next segment!
Here is the link to part four, MLB team name origins Vol 4.