What’s in a Nickname? The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names

Arizona Diamondbacks

In 1995, the franchise’s ownership group asked fans to vote their favorite nickname from a list that included Phoenix, Rattlers, Diamondbacks, Scorpions, and Coyotes. At the end, Diamondbacks, a type of rattlesnake won the voting, and now we know them as Arizona Diamondbacks.

Atlanta Braves

The nickname braves originated in 1912, in Boston. Before the 1953 season, The Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee. Therefore, from 1953 to 1965, they were known as the Milwaukee Braves. Again, they moved to Atlanta before the 1966 season, since then, they were called as the Atlanta Braves.

Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Oriole is the Maryland’s state bird. The orange and black colors of the male Oriole bird are similar to the colors on the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore, that’s they got the nickname, Baltimore Orioles.

Boston Red Sox

When the “Red Sox” name was adopted for the team, then John Taylor was the owner. He named them as Red Sox to pay the tribute to the old Boston Red Stockings which played in the “Player’s League”, and “American Association”.

Chicago Cubs

In 1902, the Chicago team had so many young players, and therefore, the Chicago Daily News nicknamed the team as “The Cubs”. By 1907, the team was universally known by the name Chicago Cubs.

Chicago White Sox

In 1900, Charles Comiskey moved to the South Side of the Chicago. The team adopted the former nickname of the Chicago Cubs, and they became the White Stockings. After the joining of Chicago Cubs in the American League, they shortened the name to the White Sox.

Cincinnati Reds

They were one of the earliest professional baseball teams in the USA. However, they were kicked out of the National League in 1880 for playing games and selling beer on Sunday. They re-branded a new team, Cincinnati Red-Stockings. In 1889, again they join the National League, and they became Cincinnati Reds.

Cleveland Indians

This team was originally nicknamed as the Naps after their star player-manager Napoleon Laoie. But, after the 1914 season, they cut with Napoleon Lajoie, so they adopted a new name, Cleveland Indians.

Colorado Rockies

They were originally Denver’s NHL team from 1976-1982. They moved to New Jersey, and they became New Jersey Devils. In 1993, they got the nickname Colorado Rockies, in reference to the Rocky Mountains which surrounds the Denver city.

Detroit Tigers

Many believed that they have stripes on their uniforms, and that’s why they got the nickname, tigers.

Houston Astros

In Greek, Astro means “star”. In 1965, they got the nickname Houston Astros, because NASA trains all of their American Astronauts in Houston.

Kansas City Royals

They were named as the Royals in reference to the American Royal Livestock Show which has been held in the Kansas City, MO, since 1899.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles is also known as the “City of Angels”. So, they got this name.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers originated in Brooklyn, and they moved to Los Angeles in 1957. The residents of Brooklyn were good at dodging the trolleys while walking in the streets, so they got the nickname, Dodgers.

Miami Marlins

Miami is a highly popular fishing destination, while Marlin is a sports fish. In 2012, Florida Marlins changed their name to the Miami Marlins.

Milwaukee Brewers

They get their name because of the Milwaukee’s history of beer brewing.

Minnesota Twins

Two cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul are separated by the Mississippi River. They’re also called the Twin Cities. So, they nicknamed Minnesota Twins to pay tribute to the both cities.

New York Mets

In 1962, when the New York was given an expansion team, they used the abbreviated nickname “Mets” for short.

New York Yankees

From 1903-1912, they were known as the New York highlanders. Yankee means “American”, and so they used “Yankees” as a nickname. Since 1913, it has been the nickname of the team.

Oakland Athletics

Initially, the best team of the area was “Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia”. In 1968, Oakland inherited the Kansas City Athletics which was formerly known by the name Philadelphia Athletics.

Philadelphia Phillies

In 1933, first time the word “Phillies” appeared on the team’s uniform. It is short for “Philadelphians”.

Pittsburgh Pirates

In 1890, Pittsburgh Club of National League signed two players, including Lou Bierbauer. Philadelphia Athletics had forgotten Bierbauer on their reserve list. In the end of 1890s, a sportswriter said that “Pittsburgh pirated away Bierbauer”, and the nickname Pirates was introduced.

San Diego Padres

In Spanish, the word “Padre” means father. They adopted the nickname of the Pacific Coast League team, the Padres.

San Francisco Giants

In 1957, the New York Giants moved to the San Francisco. Originally, they were known as the Gothams. After a spectacular win, the manager Jim Mutrie said that, they played like “Giants”. It became their nickname.

Seattle Mariners

In the Seattle, fishing and marine activities are very common, and therefore they got the nickname, Mariners.

St. Louis Cardinals

In 1899, William McHale, a baseball journalist, referenced the team as the Cardinals because of their red uniforms. They became popular by the name cardinals.

Tampa Bay Rays

From 1998 to 2007, they were known by the name Devil Rays. After the 2007 season, they dropped the Devil word from their name and adopted Tampa Bay Rays.

Texas Rangers

In 1972, the team was named as Rangers to pay tribute to the state’s history, and in the honor of Stephen F. Austin’s law enforcement division.

Toronto Blue Jays

On August 12th, 1976, team’s front office personnel selected Blue Jays out of 30,000 entries, and 4,000 suggested nicknames.

Washington Nationals

Originally, Washington’s baseball team was referred as Nationals and Senators. In 2005, when the Montreal Expos relocated to the Washington, the organization revived the old “Nationals” nickname, because “Senators” nickname is still owned by the Texas Rangers

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