19 February 2019

Sports Teams Names

Besides all the jargon of sports, many names of teams have unusual origins, and many terms in sports come from names. Here are some team name origins for hockey, football and baseball.

In the National Hockey League, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks got their name from Disney CEO Michael Eisner who named the team after the hit Disney hockey movie The Mighty Ducks.

When Businessman Charles Adams wanted his new franchise to have brown and yellow team colors to match his stores, and a name equated with strength and power, he ran a contest and the winning fan entry was the Boston Bruins in the early days featuring a bear/bruin.

The Buffalo team management held a contest and chose Sabres as fitting since team officials wanted a name not being used in the pros and something other than a buffalo/bison variation.

When the Flames were located in Atlanta, the name referenced the burning of the city in the Civil War. When the team moved to Calgary, management held a contest and the fans chose to keep the Flames name. The flame could now be considered a reference to Alberta's petroleum industry.

In the National Football League, when George Halas moved his oddly-named Decatur Staleys to Chicago in 1921, the Staleys played at Wrigley Field, the home of baseball’s Cubs. Halas thought that if the baseball tenants were Cubs, then his more rugged gridiron combatants should be known as the Bears.

Paul Brown chose Bengals as the team name for Cincinnati’s 1968 AFL expansion team because there had been earlier football teams in the city called the Bengals. The oldest Bengals were members of an earlier AFL in 1937, then competed as an independent club in 1938, then played in a new AFL from 1939-41 before the AFL merged with the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills nickname refers to William F. Cody, who was known as “Buffalo Bill.” Buffalo had a football team called the Bisons, but the city’s minor league baseball and hockey teams also had the same name. The football team held a contest to select a new nickname following the 1946 season. More than 4,500 entries were submitted and Bills beat out Bullets, Nickels and Blue Devils.


In Major League Baseball, one team name example is the 1961 expansion version of the Washington Senators, who were obviously named for the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C.

When they moved to Arlington, Texas in 1972, they took on the totally-Texas nickname Texas Rangers, referencing the famous Texas Ranger Division, the law enforcement agency that was created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823.

The aptly named Colorado Rockies became a new franchise into the MLB in 1993. The nickname "Rockies" is, of course, a reference to the Rocky Mountains which cover much of the western half of Colorado. The name Colorado Rockies had actually already been used by a National Hockey League team from 1976-1982. When that team relocated, they became the New Jersey Devils.


Minor league teams had been known as the Miami Marlins for several decades, referencing the marlin, a popular sport fish of the state. There were the Miami Marlins of the International League (1956-1960) and the Miami club of the Florida State League starting in 1963, who were known as the Miami Marlins during 1963-1970 and then again in 1982-1988.

The MLB team began play as an expansion team in the 1993 season as the Florida Marlins When the major leagues expanded to the Miami area in 1993, the old nickname was revived, but called by the state name of Florida Marlins. The Marlins moved into their new ballpark, Marlins Park, in 2012 which coincided with a change in the team colors/uniforms and name to the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins are the only team to win a World Series in their first two winning seasons (1997 and 2003); in fact, they are the only team to even make the playoffs in their first two winning seasons. In those two seasons, they managed to make a surprise run to the World Series, both times as heavy underdogs. They are also the only team to never lose a postseason series.

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