How Did Minor League Teams Get Their Name? The New Series Starts…

After my recent series of articles on major league baseball teams names and their origins, I decided to take a look at some minor league teams and try to find out how some of their names were determined. Some people may not realize that there are hundreds of minor league teams in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Most of them are in small cities and many of these teams have a long history in the cities or these cities have a long history with minor league baseball. As I was doing my series on major league teams, I learned that many teams have name origins that go back to minor league teams that have histories to the 1800s.As an example; here is what I wrote about the history of the San Diego Padres:

“San Diego Padres – The original San Diego Padres were a minor league baseball team that played in San Diego from 1936 to 1968. That minor league team was formed in 1903 as the Sacramento Solons. The name “Solon” had three potential origins. Solon was a Greek lawmaker and was a synonym for senator. However, Solon Huntington was a prominent businessman in Sacramento during the 19th Century. Any of the names can be considered as the origin of the name. The team moved to Tacoma for one season and then back to Sacramento in 1905. In 1914, the organization moved to San Francisco as the San Francisco Missions, named for San Francisco’s Mission District. The team moved in 1915 to Salt Lake City after being sold and was called the Salt Lake Bees. The bee is a symbol of the Mormon Church, which is headquartered in Utah. The team became the Hollywood Stars in 1926 after moving to Los Angeles. The team stayed in Los Angeles until 1936, when it became the San Diego Padres. The word Padres means priest/father. Mission San Diego was the first Spanish mission in the United States. Why the history lesson? You just found out how the San Diego Padres got their name while learning about the history of a minor league franchise.”

This series will not have a determined number of parts. I will do them as I find information that is interesting. I do not care to write articles and say “Determined by fan vote.” I will start this series with the Pacific Coast League American Conference, Northern Division.

Iowa Cubs – There is nothing too creative with the name. When the affiliation of the Iowa Oaks with the Chicago White Sox ended at the end of the 1981 season, their new affiliation was with the Chicago Cubs. As a result, and for name recognition they changed their name to the Iowa Cubs. The Oak, by the way, is the Iowa state tree.

NOTE – “Affiliation” between a major league franchise and a minor league franchise is a contract between these organizations that basically says that a minor league team’s players will be property of the major league franchise. For example, when the Iowa Oaks were affiliated with the White Sox, the Sox provided the players to the Oaks. The next season, then the affiliation shifted to the Cubs, the Cubs Triple-A players were now the players of the Iowa Cubs (same minor league organization, new name a affiliation)

Memphis Redbirds – So far this league has names that are not too interesting. The St. Louis Cardinals are also known as the Redbirds. The Memphis Redbirds are the Triple-A affiliate of the Cardinals and that is how they got their name. Before the Redbirds were in Memphis, there were two other minor league franchises, Memphis Chicks and Memphis Blues. The Chicks was actually a name shortened from the Memphis Chickasaws. They were in Memphis from 1912 to 1960 and from 1978 to 1997. The Chickasaw are Native Americans that were originally from the Southeastern United States. The name was to honor the people whose origins were within the Tennessee area. Memphis Blues is a style of the blues that was created in the early 20th century.

Nashville Sounds – The Nashville Sound is a production style of country music that originated in the late 1950s. The current Nashville Sounds baseball team began operations in 1978. The baseball team took its name and original color scheme from the Nashville Sounds of the American Basketball Association. The Sounds played for one year, 1974, and after the demise of the ABA the copyrights to the Sounds name and colors expired and were quickly re-copyrighted for the baseball team. The name still exists after 32 seasons.

Omaha Royals – Well, since this team is the Royals Triple-A team, the name is obvious. However, from 1999 to 2001, the name was changed to the Omaha Golden Spikes. The name was changed in an attempt to memorialize the last and “golden spike” driven into the ground in Utah as the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed. Omaha is also the headquarters of Union Pacific, users of this Railroad. However, after three years the name was changed back due to unhappy fans not approving of the name change.

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