Have you always wondered how baseball teams got their names? I have. So, a little while ago I did some research and looked into each Major League Baseball team and tried to establish how they got named. Some were easy and quick, others have a long history of names to go through. This is the third of six postings, giving a little history about the team names and how they were developed.
American League West
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Los Angeles in Spanish means, “The Angels”. Done. However, the team name story deserves more than seven words. The team was formed in 1961 as the Los Angeles Angels. In 1965, the team changed its name midseason to the California Angels in order to promote that the Angels were the only American League team in California. In 1997, Disney purchased the team with the condition that the name Anaheim be introduced into the team name and thus became the Anaheim Angels. In 2005, new owner Arte Moreno wanted to reintroduce the name Los Angeles into the team name; however the stadium lease insisted that Anaheim remain as part of the team name. That is how the name, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was invented. As a history note, there was a minor league team named the Los Angeles Angels that played in the Pacific Coast League from 1903 to 1957. There was a team with the same name that played in the California League in 1892, 1893, 1901 and 1902. Okay, they got more than seven words.
Oakland Athletics – The Athletic Club of Philadelphia (Philadelphia Athletics) was a baseball team that played from 1860 to 1875. In 1876, the Philadelphia Athletics was a charter member of the National League, but was kicked out after one season because they refused to take a road trip. When the American League was formed in 1901, the Philadelphia Athletics were once again a charter member and remained in Philadelphia until the end of the 1954 season. In 1955, the team moved to Kansas City, kept the name Athletics and remained there until 1968 when the team moved once again to Oakland and remained the Athletics. Want to know why their logo is a White Elephant? Prior to the 1905 World Series, the manager of the New York Giants John McGraw called the Athletics a “white elephant”. A white elephant is a sign of power. The white elephant was embraced by the team and became the team’s mascot.
Seattle Mariners – Seattle is major port in the northwest, with a tremendous fishing and shipping industry. A Mariner is someone who helps guide a ship. So, the name honors the industries that helps support the city. Before the Mariners, there was a team in Seattle (Seattle Pilots) from 1969 to 1970 and relocated to Milwaukee. The city of Seattle (among many others) sued the American League for breach of contract. As a result, the American League granted a new expansion team to Seattle if the lawsuit was dropped. In 1977, the Mariners played their first season.
Texas Rangers – The organization began in 1961 as the Washington Senators. This organization replaced the former Washington Senators, who moved to Minnesota at the end of the 1960 baseball season. At the end of the 1971 season, the organization moved to Arlington, Texas. Interesting note, the final game in Washington was forfeited by the Senators to the Yankees because hundreds of people stormed the field in the 9th inning. The team was named the Texas Rangers, in honor of the famous law enforcers. As a history note, the Texas Rangers were formed in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin who organized small groups who were to “range over the countryside” and therefore they were called the “Rangers”. Back to baseball, the Texas Rangers first home game was postponed due to the baseball strike of 1972. Last game in Washington forfeited and the first game postponed by a strike.
There you are, the American League West teams and how they got their names. Next up, the National League East.