How did they get their names? – Part 2

A little while ago, I as watching a baseball game on television, and I started to wonder about the teams that were playing and how they got their names. I started to do a little research into some team names and found the history interesting. This is the second of six postings, giving a little history about the team names and how they were developed.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox – The name Chicago White Stockings actually goes back to the National League organization (Cubs) in Chicago that was formed in 1876. However in 1894 it dropped the moniker White Stockings and in 1902, for reasons you will read in part five of this series, the name was officially changed to the Cubs. When the American League team was formed in 1901, it took the name White Stockings as the name was no longer in use by the “other team in town”. Editors of the Chicago Tribune kept shortening the name to the White Sox in their headlines and the organization officially adopted the nickname “White Sox” in 1904. This is the second instance where sports writers helped form the official nickname of a major league baseball team. It seems that the White Stockings name came to fruition due to the success of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Since the National League organization wore white socks, they simply took the name White Stockings.

Cleveland Indians – There is a rumored reason for the nickname, which has been verified as false. For many years, it was believed that the name “Indians” was accepted by the team in Cleveland in 1915 because of a former player, Louis Sockalexis. Sockalexis, a Native American, played with the Cleveland Spiders organization from 1897 to 1899. Rumor is that Chief Sockalexis may have been an inspiration for the name as in 1915; the President of the Indians invited the Cleveland sports writers to name the team. They chose the Indians. This is now the third instance of sports writers affecting the name of a major league club. One reason associated with the name the Indians is that the writers wanted to capture success from the Boston Braves name and the other reason is that when Chief Sockalexis arrived, the fortunes of the team turned. They intended to use the name Indians to recapture past glory. This organization also used the name Colts, Blues and Naps.

Detroit Tigers – The Detroit Wolverines were members of the National League from 1881 to 1888. After 1888, the team disbanded and there were a variety of minor league teams in Detroit and that lasted until the American league was formed with Detroit as an original franchise. One reported story about the formation of the name Tigers was due to black socks with orange stripes, resembling tiger stripes. Another story was that a sports writer (once again) called the team “The Tigers”, comparing them to the Princeton Tigers. Neither of those are real stories. The accepted story for the origin of the name is based upon a military unit from Detroit known as “The Tigers”. This unit had fought in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. When the Detroit baseball team joined the American League, it requested permission from the military unit to use its trademark.

Kansas City Royals – They were not named by a writer. There is a horse show, live stock show and a rodeo held in Kansas City every year called the American Royal. This has been held every year since 1899. The name Royals was chosen to honor that long standing annual tradition. Some people believe that the name was chosen to honor the Negro League team, the Kansas City Monarchs but that is not the case.

Minnesota Twins – The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is the origin of the name. When the team was formed, the owner Calvin Griffith did not want to alienate the people of St. Paul who could potentially support the team. So, he named the team the Minnesota Twins, instead of focusing on an individual city.

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