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The Stories Behind MLB Nicknames: An Insight into Baseball's Unique Tradition

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

American League - East Division:

  • Baltimore Orioles: Named after the state bird of Maryland, the Baltimore oriole.

  • Boston Red Sox: Named for their distinctive red socks.

  • New York Yankees: Believed to be a reference to the Civil War term "Yankee," which was used for soldiers from the Northern states.

  • Tampa Bay Rays: Reflects the abundant sunshine in the Tampa Bay area.

  • Toronto Blue Jays: The name represents a native bird in Canada, the blue jay.

American League - Central Division:

  • Chicago White Sox: A reference to the predominantly white socks worn by the team. Named to contrast their "clean" image against the "dirty" Red Sox.

  • Cleveland Guardians: Changed from the Cleveland Indians to promote inclusivity and better reflect the city's identity.

  • Detroit Tigers: Named after the Detroit Light Guard military unit, who wore orange and black uniforms with a distinctive tiger patch.

  • Kansas City Royals: Reflects the city's "royal" treatment in welcoming the team.

  • Minnesota Twins: Named after the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

American League - West Division:

  • Houston Astros: Originally named the Houston Colt .45s, changed in 1965 to commemorate the Space Age, with "Astros" referencing the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

  • Los Angeles Angels: Reflects the team's location in the city of Los Angeles and the "Angels" of Anaheim, a reference to the Spanish word for "angels."

  • Oakland Athletics: Reflects a tradition of sporting excellence, with a focus on physical fitness and athleticism.

  • Seattle Mariners: Named after the maritime industry and Seattle's strong connection to the sea.

  • Texas Rangers: Named after the famous law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers.

National League - East Division:

  • Atlanta Braves: Originally known as the Boston Braves, the name reflects courage and warrior-like qualities.

  • Miami Marlins: Reflects the marine life and the coastal location of Miami.

  • New York Mets: "Mets" is a shortened form of "Metropolitans," signifying the team's connection to New York City.

  • Philadelphia Phillies: The name "Phillies" is a shortened form of "Philadelphia."

  • Washington Nationals: Named after the country's capital city, Washington, D.C.

National League - Central Division:

  • Chicago Cubs: Originally the "White Stockings" and later the "Colts" before becoming the "Cubs" in 1907 to reflect the youth and potential of the team.

  • Cincinnati Reds: Named after the team's distinctive red stockings.

  • Milwaukee Brewers: Named for the city's brewing industry and beer tradition.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Reflects the city's history of pirates and riverboat trade.

  • St. Louis Cardinals: Named after the vibrant and colorful cardinal bird, the state bird of Missouri.

National League - West Division:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Combines "diamond," a reference to baseball's diamond-shaped field, with "back," signifying the rattlesnake's distinctive diamond-shaped pattern on its back.

  • Colorado Rockies: Named after the Rocky Mountains, which are prominent in Colorado.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Originated in Brooklyn, where trolley dodging was a common activity due to the many streetcar lines. Hence, they became known as the "Trolley Dodgers," later shortened to "Dodgers."

  • San Diego Padres: Named after the Spanish friars who founded the city of San Diego.

  • San Francisco Giants: Started in New York as the "New York Giants" and retained the name after relocating to San Francisco. Giant in Greek mythology is known for his tremendous strength.

Check out the other sport name rationale:

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