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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Today in Baseball History: The Cubs get their name

Baseball team names are established, trademarked things. New team names are focus-grouped and then established and trademarked. The key thing is that they are immutable. The Yankees are and always will be the Yankees. The Dodgers are and always will be the Dodgers. It’s something you can bank on.

But it’s also something that was not always the case. Not by a long shot. Indeed, from the advent of the game itself there an element of true nicknaming — names being applied informally — has almost always been involved.

The alleged first recorded game of baseball took place between teams called “New York” and “Knickerbocker,” both of which were from New York City, with the latter assuming a distinctive name, likely to keep it being confused with its rival. Many pre-National League amateur or semi-professional teams had names such as “Atlantic,” “Olympic,” and “Forest City,” but they were not formally named pursuant to the current convention such as “The Brooklyn Atlantics” or the “Philadelphia Olympics.” The legal names were “Atlantic Base Ball Club” and “Olympic Base Ball Club,” etc., with the cities just being additional descriptors.

The Cincinnati “Red Stockings,” acknowledged as the first fully-professional team, were given their name by sportswriters due to the actual clothes they happened to wear — uniforms with red stockings — as opposed to having the name applied to them first, and thus was a nickname in the most literal sense of the term. Soon other professional teams, first in the National Association and then in the National League, assumed their own distinctive colors as well. In 1882 the National League passed a rule requiring specific stocking colors, as follows:

Boston: Red
Buffalo: Gray
Chicago: White
Cleveland: Navy blue
Detroit: Old Gold
Providence: Light Blue
Troy: Green
Worcester: Brown

The story of how the names we apply to teams came to be.

 

QLE Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:37 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, history, names

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Cblau Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:12 PM (#5934620)
Lots of fiction in this article. A much better article on team names appeared in the Baseball Research Journal last year.
   2. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:23 PM (#5934622)
Little known fact: "Cubs" is simply a shortening of their original name, the "Cubes".

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