Pro Baseball Nicknames

Professional Baseball Team Nicknames

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Arizona Diamondbacks
Since 1998, named from the diamondback rattlesnakes that are in the Arizona desert.  Diamondback rattlers get their name from the pattern on their backs.  And since baseball is played on a diamond, the name slithered in a reference to the game.  The team is often called the "D-Backs" for short.  Other names considered: Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Phoenix, Rattlers and Scorpions  Mascot: D.Baxter the Bobcat.

Atlanta Braves
Named for James Gaffney, a Tammany Hall "Brave", who bought the team in 1911. The Braves name was chosen while they were in Boston (they started as the Boston Red Stockings), and were one of the original teams.  The term Boston Braves doesn't refer to a Native American, but a white revolutionary activist who helped throw tea into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party.  They were also called the Sons of Liberty. Samuel Adams was their "chief." The OLDEST continuously operating professional sports franchise in America, with the team's birth in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings, and follows them to Milwaukee in 1953 and to Atlanta in 1966, playing under such a variety of names as Beaneaters and Doves through 1908, Rustlers, Braves, Bees (from 1936-1940), and back to the Braves. Mascot: Homer and Rally

Baltimore Orioles
Named for the State bird of Maryland, the Baltimore Oriole.  Orioles was the nickname of a former minor league team.  The franchise name is from Milwaukee as the Brewers in 1901 to St. Louis, in 1902-1953 as the Browns, then in 1954 to Baltimore to become the Orioles. Mascot: The Bird.
The Orioles Bird is the #7 Best Mascot per 2008 survey

Boston Red Sox
Since 1901, named for the famous Red Stockings of the 1870's. Sox, incidentally, is an acceptable plural form of sock.  One sock, two sox. 
Other nicknames: Beaneaters, Doves, Braves, Pilgrims, Puritans, Plymouth Rocks, and Somersets through 1906.  Known as the Red Sox since 1907.  The Washington Redskins NFL Football team began in 1932 as the Boston Braves.  Mascot: Wally the Green Monster, Lefty and Righty.   The #3 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos.  #2 Sports Brand of all Pro Teams-- 2008 Turnkey Team Brand Index


Chicago White Sox
Since 1901, originally the team was called the Invaders because they invaded Chicago before the opening of the 1900 season. The team adopted the Chicago White Stockings name used by the National League team in the late 1880s.  Sportswriters shortened the name to White Sox when writing headlines.  The club went through various names, including the Colts, in honor of their manager Cap Anson's appearance in the film The Runaway Colt.  The name was officially changed in 1904 to the White Sox.   Mascot: Southpaw

Chicago Cubs
Since 1876. Originally called the White Stockings.  The club went through various name changes.  Named for the Chicago Orphans who promote their rebuilding with youth from 1898-1900.  Also known as the White Stockings, Colts, Orphans, Spuds.  Known as the Cubs since 1902.  The Cubs were the last team to start playing home night games on Aug. 9, 1988.  The #2 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos.

Cincinnati Reds
1st professional baseball club, formed 3/15/1869 as the Cincinnati Red Stockings, as they wore red socks.  Named the Red Legs from 1944-1945, then Redlegs from 1954-1960, then the Red's since 1961.  Called the Red Legs briefly in the 1940s during the time of the Communist scare.  The team used the single "C" on its uniforms in 1905 and the word "Reds" inside the "C" starting in 1911.  An NFL Football team that played briefly in the 1930's was called the Cincinnati Reds.  Mascot: Gapper and Mr. Redlegs The #8 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos.

Cleveland Guardians
Since 1901, they were named after Louis Frances Sockalexis, who is believed to be the first Native American major leaguer.  Sockalexis was a Penobscot Indian (a tribe from Maine) who played for the Cleveland Spiders in the 1880s. Other sources believe the media and team chose "Indians" as a play on the name Boston Braves.   Other nicknames: Broncos, Blues (uniform color too), Naps (in honor of team manager Nap LaJoie) and from 1912 to 1915 was called the Molly McGuires because of the large number of Irish players it had.    Called the Indians since 1915.  The Indians are also referred to as "The Tribe". Mascot: Slider.  Changed the nickname from Indians to Guardians at the end of the 2021 season.  Guardians is what some large statues are called on a bridge in Cleveland.  


Colorado Rockies
Since 1993, named after the Rocky Mountains in the area. The franchise chose the same name that had been abandonded by a former NHL hockey team, the Colorado Rockies.  Mascot: Dinger.



Detroit Tigers
Since 1901, named after the yellow and black striped socks.  The team was originally known as the Wolverines -- named after the former Detroit team in the old National League.  Sportswriter Phil Reid of the Detroit Free Press thought that the team's black and yellow stripes looked like the uniforms looked like those of the Princeton Tigers and he started to call them the Tigers. The name stuck.  The original club called the Wolverines, was also referred to as the Tigers, the nickname for the members of  Michigan's oldest military unit, the 425th National Guard infantry regiment, which fought in the Civil War and Spanish American War.  The Detroit Lions NFL Football Team was named in reference to their then landlords, the Tigers.   Mascot: Paws.  #16 Sports Brand of all Pro Teams-- 2008 Turnkey Team Brand Index  Paws is the #6 Best Mascot per 2008 survey

Florida Marlins
Since 1993, named after the large fish, found off the coast and name of a minor league AAA team, the Miami Marlins. The owners were looking for
more of a regional appeal included "Florida" in the name instead of a city.  When the Marlins move into their new baseball only stadium in 2012, they will become the Miami Marlins!  Mascot: Billy Marlin

Houston Astros
Since 1962, originally named the Colt .45's, then renamed for the famous NASA Space Center in 1965. The team also used the nickname as part of its new home, the Astrodome, which opened in 1965.  Mascot: Junction Jack.

Kansas City Royals
Since 1969, named after the home of the "American Royal",  one of the largest livestock and horse shows and parades in the USA, in a naming contest with 17,000 entries.  Other names considered: "Mules" and "Cowpokes".  The American Royal Livestock how has been held in Kansas City since 1899.  The team owners were looking for a team name fit for a king.  The name also in honor of the kings of the Negro Leagues, the Kansas City the Monarchs.  Stadium: Kauffman Stadium: since 1973.  Stadium was originally named Royals Stadium, but changed to Kauffman Stadium after original owner, Ewing Kauffman.  Mascot: Sluggerrr (Lion)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Named after Los Angeles, the "City of Angels", where the team started.  Changed from Los Angeles Angels (from 1961-1965) Named Angels because Los Angeles is Spanish for "The Angels".  The Angels was the nickname of a former minor league team in Los Angles.  Name changed from Los Angeles to California Angels 9/2/65, then to Anaheim Angels in 1997.   Changed from Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005.  Mascot: Clutch and Scoop the Bears.  Mascot: Rally Monkey  The Rally Monkey is the #5 Best Mascot per 2008 survey

Los Angles Dodgers
Named "Trolley Dodgers" for the wild maze of trolley lines near the Brooklyn Bridge causing pedestrians who have to dodge the trolleys that carry passengers through the streets.  The name came from a team originally located in Brooklyn, (from 1890 to 1957) as the Superbas through 1926, then Robins from 1927-1931, then for the Dodgers (from 1932-1957) which is short for Trolley-Dodgers, then moved to Los Angeles in 1958.  Also known as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (or just Grooms) in 1888 since six members of the team got married during the season and in the 1890's, the Brooklyn Superbas.  Played as the Brooklyn Atlantics in the American Assocition of the 1880's.  Around 1910, the team was briefly called the "Infants", from an owners speech about "Baseall is in its infancy".  The famous Dodgers script appeared on the uniforms in 1938.    The #15 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos.

Milwaukee Brewers
Named for the numerous Brewery's in the area, the "Beer Capital of the World", and to honor past Milwaukee teams who were also named the Brewers.  Started in Seattle in 1969 as the Pilots, then moved to Milwaukee in 1970.  Mascot: Bernie Brewer and Racing Sausages.  The Racing Sausages gets an Honorable Mention as the Best Mascot per 2008 survey

Minnesota Twins
Named for the "Twin Cities" where the team is located, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.  The Kansas City Blues were used to form the Washington Senators in 1901 when the American League was formed.  The franchise moved from Washington (DC) as the Senators (from 1901-1960), then to Bloomington, Minnesota as the Twins (1961-81) then to Minneapolis, MN in 1982.  Mascot: T.C. Bear  #24 Sports Brand of all Pro Teams-- 2007 Turnkey Team Brand Index



New York Yankees
Started in Baltimore as the Orioles in 1901-02, moved to New York in 1903, as the Highlanders.  Called the Highlanders, because the site is one of the highest spots in Manhattan, Later they were referred to as the Yankees, by a sportswriter, and officially changed in 1913.  Called Highlanders both after a famous British Army regiment named Gordon's Highlanders, and because Hilltop Park was their home ballpark and was located on a hilltop overlooking Washington Heights.  In 1912, pinstripes first appear on Highlanders' uniforms, creating a look that would become the most famous uniform design in sports.  Called Yankees first by sportswriters Mark Roth of the New York Globe and Sam Crane of the New York Journal, the name appearing in print for the first time on June 21, 1904 in the Boston Herald.  Officially renamed the Yankees in 1913 after moving to the Polo Grounds, home of the National Leagues New York Giants.  In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.  Unofficial nicknames: Pinstripers and Bronx Bombers.
The #1 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos.

New York Mets
Since 1962, the name is short for Metropolitans, located in the New York Metropolitan area.  They are named after an 1880's American Association team the New York Metropolitans.  The team also selected its team colors of blue and orange as a tribute to the Giants and Dodgers, two teams that had left New York for the West Coast.  Along with the Red's, the Met's have the distinction as having the shortest name in the big leagues, a sportswriters delight.  The Mets nickname rhymed with the other sports teams in New York:  Jets, Nets and Sets teams. Other names considered: Avengers, Bees, Burros, Continentals, Jets, NYBS, Rebels, Skyliners, Skyscrapers, Empires and Islanders. Mascot: Mr. Met

Oakland Athletics
Franchise moved from Philadelphia (from 1901-1954) to Kansas City as the Athletics (from 1955-1967), then to Oakland in 1968 as the A's, then changed to the Athletics in 1987.  The nickname "Athletics" is the oldest in baseball dating back to the early 1860's, as the Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia.  As early as 1866, their uniform featured the stylized letter "A".  Mascot: Stomper the Elephant.   The #20 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos.

Philadelphia Phillies
Since 1883, named for a "Philly, which is an inhabitant of the city. Also spelled Fillies in the early days. Owner Bob Carpenter held a contest in 1944  to change his team's name. From 5,064 entries, the Blue Jays was chosen, but didn't catch on and was later changed back to the Phillies.  Called the Blue Jays from 1943-1944.  Also known as the Quakers.  Mascot: Phillie Phanatic Philly Phanatic is the #3 Best Mascot per 2008 survey

Pittsburgh Pirates
Since 1887, named the Pittsburgh Innocents until 1891, where they lured second baseman Lou Bierbauerfrom the Philadelphia A's, lead to the name, Pirates.  The Athletics were not happy with the way they lost Lou as he was "pirated" away from them.  Also known as the Alleghenys.  The Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Football team began as the Pittsburgh Pirates, in reference to the Pittsburgh "baseball" Pirates, their landlord.  There was also a Pittsburgh Pirates NHL Hockey team from 1920-30's.  Mascot: Captain Jolly Roger and Pirate Parrot #72 Sports Brand of all Pro Teams-- 2007 Turnkey Team Brand Index


San Diego Padres
Since 1969, named for the Spanish word for priest, and was inspired by the padres of the Roman Catholic Mission San Diego de Alcala. Padres was the nickname of a former minor league team.  Padre is the Spanish word for "father".  Mascot: The San Diego Chicken and Swinging Friar The San Diego Chicken is the #1 Best Mascot per 2008 survey

San Francisco Giants
In the 1880's the club was known as the New York Gotham's.   The name was changed when manager Mutrie stood up in the dugout after an important victory in 1885 and stated that he was very proud of "My big fellows! My giants!"  The Giants name were thought to refer to the Giant Buildings in New York City.  The franchise moved from New York (1883-1957) to San Francisco in 1958.   The popularity of the New York Giants name inspired several Negro League baseball teams to adopt a similar variation of that name, i.e. Baltimore Elite Giants, Chicago American Giants. 
The New York "football" Giants of the NFL were named for the New York "baseball" Giants team which was once their landlord.    Mascot: Lou Seal

Seattle Mariners
Since 1977, named for the maritime industry and nautical history of area.  Mascot: Mariner Moose.

St. Louis Cardinals
Originally known as the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1867. From 1882-1891 called the Browns, in the American Association, 1892-1898- Browns National League , 1899- Perfectos- National League, 1900-current- Cardinals- National League.  Named by new owners and their appropriately colored uniforms, of the Maroons, thus the name is used to refer to the color, not the bird.  An NFL team was named the St. Louis Cardinals but was from Chicago and moved to St. Louis in 1960.   Mascot: Fredbird  The #5 Best North American Professional Sports Logo of the 20th Century per 2005 survey by Section 219/Classic Sports Logos. #10 Sports Brand of all Pro Teams-- 2008 Turnkey Team Brand Index


Tampa Bay Rays
Since 1998, named after the devil rays and manta rays in the bay area.  Changed name from Devil Rays to Rays in 2008.  Mascot: Raymond.

Texas Rangers
Named after the famous Texas State Police.  Moved from Washington DC as the Senators (from 1961-1971) to Arlington, TX in 1972.  With the franchise change in cities it changed from lawmakers to law enforcers!  Mascot: Rangers Captain (Palomino style horse)

Toronto Blue Jays
Since 1977, named by former Ontario Premier John Robarts, a member of the teams board of directors, started talking about a morning routine: "I was shaving this morning and I saw a blue jay out my window".  Blue color was chosen to match the "blue" theme of other Toronto teams the Maple Leafs hockey team and Argonauts Canadian Football Team.  The team considered the nickname for the team as the Toronto Maple Leafs, since that was the name of the long standing minor league team in town from 1896 to 1967, but the NHL Hockey team took that name. The Team General Manger referred to the nickname as, "The blue jay is a North American bird, bright blue in color, with white undercovering and a black neck ring.  It is strong, aggressive, and inquisitive. It dares to take on all comers, yet it is down-to-earth, gutsy and good-looking." Mascot: Ace and his female counterpart Diamond. (they are Blue Jays)

Washington (D.C.) Nationals
The Nationals were a Washington team long BEFORE the move to D.C. in 2005.  In 1859, the Nationals and the Potomacs both played in the District.  The team then stopped playing when the Civil War broke out. Later, the name surfaced again in the 1870's and 1880's.  That team then joined the American League when it was formed in 1901 and changed it's name to the Senators.  It then officially changed back to the Nationals in 1905.  Although officially named the Nationals, the team also went by the name of Senators for more than fifty years! The Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005.  Other names considered with Nationals: Senators and Grays (Homestead Grays, a Negro League team who played games in Washington in the 1930-40's.)  The Nationals was the official name of the longtime American League franchise more popularly known as the Senators.  The team played in Washington during 1901-1960, with both names used for several decades.  Officially changed to the Senators in 1957.  That  team later moved to Minnesota and became the Twins.The expansion Senators called Washington home from 1961-1971 beforemoving to Texas and becoming the Rangers.  Prior Names: Washington Senators 1901-1971  Mascot: Screech



In 1882, Baseball's National League passed a rule to require specific COLORS for each team: Boston: Red; Buffalo: Gray; Chicago: White; Cleveland: Navy Blue; Detroit: Old Gold; Providence: Light Blue; Troy: Green; and Worcester: Brown.  As you can see now, these chosen colors later influenced team nicknames such as the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.

As writers became more inventive, they began to refer to teams by some characteristic that made the team or the city unique: Boston Beaneaters; Chicago Colts; New York Giants; Cleveland Spiders and Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers.

Some teams have had TWO popular nicknames at the same time, for example: Brooklyn Dodgers/Robins and Washington Senators/Nationals.


The Boston Red Sox team's nickname has been spelled with an "X" since 1907. You may wonder why aren't the Red Sox called the Red Socks?  Why are the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox teams "sox" instead of "socks"? 
Many early baseball teams were named after their uniform colors. In the 19th century, there were clubs called the Red Stockings, Brown Stockings, and Blue Stockings. Newspapers like the Chicago Tribune often shortened these nicknames to "Sox." When Charlie Comiskey founded the American League's Chicago White Stockings in 1901, the Tribune wasted no time in dubbing them the White Sox. Boston's AL franchise seems not to have had an official name during its first few years. Reporters called them different names on different days, including the Americans (to distinguish them from Boston's National League team), the Bostons, the Plymouth Rocks, and the Beaneaters. In late 1907, the club's owner settled on Red Sox.



If the league expands or a team moves....where is the BEST city for a new MLB team?

Top 10 Largest Cities without a MLB Team (as of 2007 population): San Antonio, TX

  1. San Jose, CA
  2. Jacksonville, FL
  3. Indianapolis, IN
  4. Columbus, OH
  5. Austin, TX
  6. Memphis, TN
  7. Charlotte, NC
  8. El Paso, TX
  9. Nashville, TN

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