Origins Of 30 MLB Team Names

origins of 30 mlb team name

Major League Baseball is mainly famous in the US, Canada, and Japan. It is also an international pastime with countless fans worldwide.

The MLB has 30 teams that compete for division titles and World Series championships each year in the US.

But what’s most interesting about these franchises are their nicknames. So, to help you even more, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all MLB team names’ origins.

Baseball is a sport that has been around for over 150 years.

To celebrate the history of this great sport, we’ve decided to take a deep look at some of the most iconic teams in Major League Baseball and uncover their exciting nicknames.

We will go team by team, examining how they got their name and what it means.

Origins of 30 MLB Team Names

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Arizona Diamondbacks

The franchise’s owners group asked fans to vote in 1995 from the list of having names that include Rattlers, Diamondbacks, Coyotes, etc.

So, in the final, Diamondbacks got the highest votes, and finally, we know the name as Arizona Diamondback.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves, originally known as the “Boston Red Stockings,” were founded in 1871.

The team was one of nine charter members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players and is one of three remaining charter teams along with the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.

When they moved to Milwaukee for a year, their name changed to the “Brewers.” The team moved to Atlanta in 1966 and changed their name to Atlanta Braves.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles got their name from the bird, which was then abundant in Baltimore.

The team’s first home ballpark also had a large resident population of these birds. Peter Angelos is the current owner of the team.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox was established in 1901 as one of the original teams of the American League. They are often called “the Sawx” or just “Sox.”

Their name is derived from their uniform socks and, indirectly, former owner Tom Yawkey’s surname.

Chicago White Sox

The team was founded in Chicago, Illinois, and is part of the American League Central division.

They are also known as “the Sox” or simply “the Chisox.”

The White Sox name originated from their original colors that were white with black pinstripes.

It eventually evolved into an all-white uniform because it proved to be easier to see in the light when playing a day game after having played a night game.

The White Sox plays at Guaranteed Rate Field, and it was built in 1991, replacing Comiskey Park, which they shared with the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team from 1984 until 1990.

Chicago Cubs

They were initially called “the White Stockings,” but in 1902, they changed their name to the Chicago Cubs with no real reason given for this change.

However, it is thought that around that time, there was an emerging fan club known as “Cub Fan Club” that may have had something to do with the name change.

The Cubs play at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, and it was built in 1914, replacing Weeghman Park, where they played from 1912-1914.

They are one of two charter members of the National League still playing under its original name (the other is the Atlanta Braves).

They have 18 National League pennants and seven World Series titles.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are a member of the American League West division. They were originally named “the Red Stockings,” and they originated in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The red socks inspired their players’ names with their uniforms.

They later evolved into all-red uniforms because of a newspaper editor’s comment about wanting his reporters to “wear something red” at the covered games.

The Reds play at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, and it opened in 2003, replacing Riverfront Stadium, where they played from 1970-2002.

They have five World Series titles and nine National League Pennants.

Cleveland Indians

They were originally called “the Naps” in honor of their star player, Nap Lajoie (whose nickname was ‘Nap’).

The name lasted for around 30 years until they changed it to “the Cleveland Indians” because people began confusing them with the Boston Braves and Nap Lajoie’s departure after the 1914 season.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are a part of the National League West division. They were originally called “the Rockies” when they made their debut in 1993.

This was because Denver, Colorado is known as “the mile-high city” (which refers to its average elevation) and also because mountains make up much of Colorado’s landscape.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are a founding member of the American League Central division. They were originally called “the Wolverines” and they originated in Detroit, Michigan.

The name was inspired by their first manager (Bill Watkins) who had played on the 1894 Detroit Wolverines baseball team back when professional teams still used to play under assumed names instead of their actual ones.

Houston Astros

They were originally called “the Colt 45’s” when they made their debut in 1962 and the name was inspired by their then-manager (Harry Craft) and they originated in Houston, Texas.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals are a founding member of the American League Central division. They were originally called “the Royals” and they originated in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Los Angeles Angels 

They were originally called “the Los Angeles Angels” and they originated in Los Angeles, California.

The name was inspired by their first owner (Gene Autry) who had initially wanted to establish them as an expansion team on the east coast but ended up being outbid by the Mets who eventually became the New York Yankees.

Los Angeles Dodgers

They were originally called “the Brooklyn Atlantics” and they originated in Brooklyn, New York (which was then separate from Manhattan).

The name was inspired by their founder (Walter O’Malley).

Miami Marlins

They were originally called “the Florida Marlins” and they originated in Miami, Florida. The name was inspired by their first owner (Wayne Huizenga) and in 2012 they change their name from Florida Marlins to Miami Marlins.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are named for the city’s history of brewing beer. The name has been around since 1970 when it replaced the previous team names: “Milwaukee Braves” and “Milwaukee Brewers.”

Minnesota Twins

The Twins were initially called the Washington Senators. The team moved to Minneapolis in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins soon after.

New York Mets

The name “Mets” is short for Metropolitans, a name that was given to New York City’s teams in the now-defunct American Association.

The National League baseball team started using that nickname during their first season of 1962.

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees were the first team to be called the “Yankees” and they have been around since 1901.

Founded in 1903 as one of eight charter members of MLB’s American League with iconic manager Billy Martin leading them for 21 seasons during his two stints. 

Oakland Athletics

The “Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia” was initially the finest team in the region.

Kansas City inherited the Oakland Athletics in 1968, previously known as the Philadelphia Athletics.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are nicknamed the “Phils” or sometimes called Philly. The name was chosen because it represented liberty and freedom, key concepts in Philadelphia’s history.

Earlier nicknames for the team included: Blue Jays, Grays, Grooms, Bridegrooms, Albions, and Quakers. In 1950 they were just plain old “Phillies”.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The team is named after the “pirates” that traveled along Pennsylvania’s Delaware River and raided towns in New Jersey, Philadelphia & New York.

The Pirates were initially called Allegheny but became known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys upon entering the American Association in 1887 before adopting their current name by 1890.

San Diego Padres

The Padres are named after the Native Americans living in San Diego County.

Their name was chosen because it meant “people of the sea” and they were seafaring people, with an excellent location for catching fish.

San Diego is known as “the birthplace of California” which made their name fit perfectly to be called The Padres.

They also inherited a minor league baseball team from Portland Oregon that moved to Spokane Washington before coming back down south where they became known as “Padres”.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants are named in reference to the New York Giants, who was one of their predecessors.

The team was originally known as the Gothams and later became commonly known by fans simply as “the G-Men” which led to them becoming “Giants” before moving west across the country.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are named after the Seattle marine industry which was a huge part of Seattle’s economy back when they first started.

The team name has nothing to do with fish at all, but instead was chosen by owner John Ellis because he wanted “Mariners” as their official nickname and not just “Salty Dogs” or other names they went by before.

The team was originally called the Seattle Pilots but became known as “Mariners” shortly after their first season in 1969.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are named after the cardinal bird which is one of Missouri’s state birds.

The team was originally known as “Browns” after the original name of St Louis which was “Mound City” but then became known as “Cardinals” in 1899.

The team is named after the color and not any actual bird, they were originally called Browns after their home city’s previous name Mound City before becoming the Cardinals altogether by 1899.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are named after a type of fish called the “bait-fish” which is also known as manta rays.

The team was originally known as “Devil rays” because many religious people took offense to their new name but it turned out that there were already trademarks on some other names so they had no choice but to remain as “Rays”.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers are named after the famous law enforcement group known as “Texas’ Ranging” which is where they originally got their name from.

The team was called “Texans” before becoming officially known by fans and media alike as “Rangers”.

This baseball team’s official name comes from Texas’ ranging patrol that was famous for being part of the “law enforcement group” that was named after them back in 1823.

The team had briefly gone by Texans but became known as Rangers before moving to Arlington Texas in 1972.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are named after the bird of prey that is also called a “blue jay”. The team was originally known as “Blue Jays” even before becoming part of MLB back in 1976.

This baseball team’s official name comes from the type of bird they were originally named after which many people call blue jays and is also a type of bird of prey.

The team was known as blue jays before becoming part of MLB in 1976 and moving to Toronto Canada.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are named after the former team of the same name that was DC’s first-ever professional baseball team and is now known as the Twins.

The original owners of Nationals moved to Minnesota before MLB granted Washington a team, so they had no choice but to name it the same thing as the original team, which was now known as Twins.

Final Words

If you want to get even more out of this article on nicknames for MLB teams, we suggest taking some time at home or in front of your desktop computer researching origin stories behind 30 different MLB team names.

This will not only give you insight into each nickname, but it will leave an impression on anyone who sees how much knowledge is packed into one blog post about baseball nicknames.


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