Team Names

by Clifford Blau


The following documents my investigation into when each Major League Baseball team adopted its current name (not when newspapers started using a nickname).  Post-1960 expansion teams, and teams which changed their name upon moving after 1950 will be omitted, as they are well-documented.  Where I haven't found a precise date, the earliest known date when the name was used officially is given.


Boston Red Sox- On December 18, 1907 (Source- "The Boston Pilgrims Never Existed" by Bill Nowlin, The National Pastime, Vol. 23, p. 72)

Chicago White Sox- By 1910, when their (alternate?) home uniform sported "Sox" (Source-Dressed to the Nines)
They were named White Stockings when the club moved from St. Paul prior to the 1900 season.  Some World Wide Web sites cite 1902 and 1904 as the year White Sox was adopted, without proof.

Cleveland Indians- On January 17, 1915 (Source- 1/18/1915 Altoona Tribune, p. 6)

Detroit Tigers- By 1901, when their caps had a tiger logo (Source- Dressed to the Nines)

New York Yankees- By 1921, when they named their forthcoming stadium Yankee Stadium.  Also, their trademark application for the name stated the first use was in 1921.  (Sources-12/18/1921 New York Times, p. 117; U. S. Patent and Trademark Office)

Oakland Athletics- They used the name right from the start.  Their 1901 uniforms had an "A" on it.  (Source- Dressed to the Nines)

Bonus teams:
     St. Louis Browns- Apparently right from the start.  Manager Jimmy McAleer gave that name per the 3/7/1902 St. Louis Republic, p. 4.
     Washington Nationals- 3/25/1905 (Source- 3/26/1905 Washington Times, p. 9).  Changed to Senators 10/30/1956 (Source- 10/31/1956 San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, p. 11)


Atlanta Braves- 12/21/1911, name suggested by team president Johnny Ward (Source- 12/22/1911 Reading Eagle, p. 6)

Chicago Cubs- By 1908, their uniforms had a bear cub logo. Frank Chance said it was team name in 1907.  (Source- Dressed to the Nines, Cubs Journal by John Snyder; tip of the hat to Mark Fimoff)

Cincinnati Reds- By 1911, their uniforms that year said Reds. (Source-Dressed to the Nines)  On 4/9/1953, they changed it to Redlegs (Source- 4/10/1953 Chicago Tribune, p. 51) and then reverted to Reds on 4/9/1959 (Source- 4/10/1959 Cincinnati Enquirer, p. 14).

Los Angeles Dodgers- 1/22/1932 (Source 1/23/1932 Brooklyn Eagle,p. 14)

Philadelphia Phillies- By 1933, when their road uniforms said Phillies (Source- Dressed to the Nines)

Pittsburgh Pirates- By 1912, when their uniforms said Pirates (Source- Dressed to the Nines)  The team was originally known as Allegheny, and the name was changed to Pittsburgh following the 1884 season.

St. Louis Cardinals- By 1918, when their uniforms said Cardinals (Source- Dressed to the Nines)
San Francisco Giants- By 1918, when their road uniforms said Giants (Source- Dressed to the Nines)

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