How Each Major League Baseball Franchise Got Their Team Name Pt. 4

In alphabetical order and as part of a six-part series (five teams per week for six weeks), we are going to list all thirty current Major League Baseball franchises and explain how they got their team name. We are now halfway through and begin part four.

Milwaukee Brewers (NL-C)

From part one of this series: “The Baltimore Orioles were once the Milwaukee Brewers (1884-1901) of the minor Western League, the St. Louis Browns (1902-1953) of the National League, then the Baltimore Orioles (1954-Present) of the American League.”

The “Brewers” name dates back to the 1870s when various professional and minor league baseball teams played in the Milwaukee area. The minor league (American Association) Brewers played from 1902 through 1952. The team is named for the city’s association with the brewing industry. Before the Brewers the “Creams” and “Cream Citys” played in the Milwaukee area. Cream is in reference to the coloring of mud for bricks from a nearby river, not “head” or foam” from beer.

However, per Wikipedia, the current “Brewers” franchise was created as follows:

“The team was founded in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots, an expansion team of the American League (AL), in Seattle, Washington. The Pilots played their home games at Sick’s Stadium. After only one season, the team relocated to Milwaukee, becoming known as the Brewers and playing their home games at Milwaukee County Stadium. In 1998, the Brewers joined the National League. They are the only franchise to play in four divisions since the advent of divisional play in Major League Baseball in 1969 [(National League (1998–present), Central Division (1998–present); American League (1969–1997), Central Division (1994–1997), East Division (1972–1993), West Division (1969–1971)].”

Amazing Facts per Wikipedia:

“The team’s only World Series appearance came in 1982. After winning the ALCS against the California Angels, the Brewers faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, losing 4–3. In 2011, the Brewers won the NLDS versus the Arizona Diamondbacks 3–2, but lost in the NLCS to the eventual World Series-champion Cardinals, 4–2 . . .

The first Brewers uniforms were “hand-me-downs” from the Seattle Pilots. Because the move to Milwaukee received final approval less than a week before the start of the season, there was no time to order new uniforms. [Former MLB Commissioner and team owner Bud] Selig had originally planned to change the Brewers’ colors to navy blue and red in honor of the minor league American Association’s Milwaukee Brewers, but was forced to simply remove the Seattle markings from the Pilots’ blue-and-gold uniforms and sew “BREWERS” on the front. However, the outline of the Pilots’ logo remained visible. The uniforms had unique striping on the sleeves left over from the Pilots days. The cap was an updated version of the Milwaukee Braves cap in blue and yellow. Ultimately, it was decided to keep blue and gold as the team colors, and they have remained so ever since.”

Minnesota Twins (AL-C)

Once the Washington Senators (1901-1960), the Minnesota Twins (1961-present), colloquially known as the “Twinkies,” were in one way a combination of the professional minor league adversaries Minnesota Millers and the St. Paul Saints and in another way the Washington Nationals/Senators (1901-1960). The Twins were also once the Kansas City, Kansas Blues, 1894-1900 (no relation to the Kansas City, Missouri Athletics or Royals). The Twins name comes from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and when the team was named the owners did not want to alienate fans from either city so they settled on the “Minnesota Twins.” Professional baseball had been played in Minnesota since the 1870s and interestingly the St. Paul Saints were a forerunner to the Chicago White Sox, but are now are independent professional baseball team.

Learn more about the “TC” and “Minnie and Paul” logos and the Washington Nationals/Senators history here and here.

Amazing facts: The franchise has won three World Series championships (1924 (Washington with Walter Johnson), 1987, and 1991 (Minnesota with Kirby Puckett)), and has fielded 18 American League batting champions (including Harmon Killebrew and his “silhouette”). The Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1965 World Series in seven games.

New York Mets (NL-E)

Per Wikipedia:

“The Metropolitan Club (the New York Metropolitans or the Mets) was a 19th-century professional baseball team that played in New York City from 1880 to 1887. The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club was the name originally chosen in 1961 for the current day New York Mets franchise . . . [they played in Brooklyn, Hoboken, and eventually at the Polo Grounds with the Giants and its name is in reference to the New York metro area with all its burrows].”

Amazing Facts: From “In a New York Minute: The Miracle Mets vs. Dem Bums from Brooklyn” by this author:

Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, which was modeled after the Dodgers former home at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York, and built on the same site where former Dodgers Owner Walter O’Malley wanted to build a new Brooklyn Dodgers Stadium. You can read about that here and here. Maybe you already knew that.  However, did you also know that according to Mets.com, the Dodgers, Mets, and Giants also have something in common . . . ‘The Mets’ colors are Dodger blue and Giant orange, symbolic of the return of National League baseball to New York after the Dodgers and Giants moved to California. Blue and Orange are also the official colors of New York State.

[According to the book “Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself” by author Michael Shapiro, former Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey had a significant influence on getting National League baseball, in the form of the Mets, back to New York City.]”

New York Yankees (AL-E)

Yankee(s) has its origins from reference to Americans by British officers during the Revolutionary War and during the Civil War for soldiers from the North side of the conflict.

Per “The Ole Ballgame:”

“One of the American League’s 8 charter franchises, the club was founded in Baltimore in 1901, as the Baltimore Orioles [no relation to current the Baltimore Orioles franchise] . . . The team’s new ballpark, Hilltop Park, was constructed in Northern Manhattan at one of the islands highest points between 165th and 168th streets, just a few blocks away from the much larger Polo Grounds . . . The team came to be known as the New York Highlanders for two reasons: 1) it was a reference to the team’s elevated location and 2) to the noted British military unit, The Gordon Highlanders, which coincided with the team’s president, Joseph Gordon.

As was common with all members of the American League, the team was called the New York Americans. New York Press Sports Editor Jim Price coined the unofficial nickname Yankees (or “Yanks”) for the club as early as 1904, because it was easier to fit in headlines . . . The Polo Grounds burned down in 1911 and the Highlanders allowed the Giants to play in Hilltopper’s Park during reconstruction. Relations between the two teams warmed, and the Highlanders would move into the newly built Polo Grounds in 1913 . . . Now playing on the Harlem River, a far cry from their high altitude home, the name “Highlanders” no longer applied, and fell into disuse among the press. The media had already widely adopted the “Yankees” nickname, coined by the New York press, and in 1913, the team became officially known as the New York Yankees.”

Amazing facts per Wikipedia:

“One of the most successful sports clubs in the world, the Yankees have won 18 division titles, 40 AL pennants, and 27 World Series championships, all of which are MLB records. The Yankees have won more titles than any other franchise in the four major North American sports leagues. [As of 2017] Forty-four Yankees players and eleven Yankees managers have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford . . . the Yankees are the second highest valued sports franchise in the United States and the fourth in the world, with an estimated value of approximately $3.4 billion . . . The team’s rivalry with the Boston Red Sox is one of the most well-known rivalries in U.S. sports.”

Oakland Athletics (AL-W)

From Philadelphia (1901-1954) to Kansas City (1955-1967) to Oakland (1968-present), and Connie Mack to Tony LaRussa to “Moneyball,” the Athletics have a storied history. The “A’s,” per Wikipedia:

“One of the American League’s eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Philadelphia, in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They won three World Series championships from 1910 to 1913 and two in a row in 1929 and 1930. The team’s owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack . . . The Athletics’ 2017 season [is] the team’s 50th season in Oakland . . . The club has won nine World Series championships, the third most of all current Major League Baseball teams . . .

The Athletics’ name originated in the term “Athletic Club” for local gentlemen’s clubs—dates to 1860 when an amateur team, the Athletic (Club) of Philadelphia, was formed . . . [despite playing in Philadelphia, a “P” or “Philadelphia” never appeared on any uniforms . . . the “City Series” was played between the Phillies and Athletics in Philadelphia from 1883 through 1954 . . . the A’s played the Giants in the “Battle of the Bay” during the 1989 World Series, also known as the Earthquake Series].”

Amazing facts per Athletics.com:

“In 1901 Connie Mack and his Philadelphia Athletics became one of the original founders of the American League. In 1902, New York Giants Manager John McGraw dismissed the A’s with contempt, by calling them “The White Elephants.” He meant to imply that Mack shouldn’t be allowed to spend money without supervision. Well, Connie Mack took up the gauntlet and defiantly adopted the White Elephant as the team insignia. That year, 1902, the A’s won the American League pennant — much to the unvoiced chagrin of John McGraw.”

We will be back next week for part five of this six-part series.

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.

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