(row one) Two of the great names I grew up with. (row two) Because of this great player, Napoleon Lajoie, the Cleveland Spiders were known as the Naps in the late 19th century. (row three) If you have this baseball card in your collection it’s probably worth a lot of wampum. Louis Sockalexis was the first native American to play in the big leagues. And it is said he’s the reason sports writers gave the team the nickname “Indians” which obviously stuck. (row four) All of the current pro team logos. (row five) Some people have suggested we go back to being called the “Spiders” so some local t-shirt makers came up with some cool designs. (row six) I have a better idea. (row seven) Looks cool on jerseys, too. (row eight) Jim Thome! What a great player. And that little dude taking in the smells of the ballpark. (row nine) All this baseball talk makes me hungry.
Kowalski Heat Treating – or KHT as we call it sometimes, was the brainchild of Dad. Back in the day, he spent hours driving around Northeast Ohio, calling on customers and prospects, solving their (PIA) problems, shaking hands, and then bringing things back to the shop to do great work for them. Like any small business owner, it was his “word” and his reputation, every time a delivery went out the front door. You can imagine the pride of delivering what’s been promised, and the anguish when something goes afoul. Much like having a personal doctor you can count on, or relationship with an attorney, customers came to rely on (Dad). When I had the opportunity to come into the business, I had huge shoes to fill – Dad’s customers. Knowing his style, fulfilling his earned reputation, and most of all, keeping sacred the family’s “good name”. As we are rapidly approaching almost 50 years in business, I am proud to say the KHT name has certainly withstood the test of time. I love talking for hours about our evolution, the great team that has been assembled, along with the numerous PIA jobs we have encountered over the years. At the end of the day it’s KHT’s good name– and our love of PIA jobs! …
Talking about names, and with baseball spring training season in full swing, I was reading the box scores, and thinking about where all the baseball team names came from. I found a great article on mentalfloss.com. Look below and find your favorite teams – you’ll be surprised how some came to be – Enjoy!
- Arizona Diamondbacks– In 1995, the expansion franchise’s ownership group asked fans to vote from among a list of nicknames that included Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Phoenix, Rattlers, and Scorpions. Diamondbacks, a type of desert rattlesnake, was the winner, sparing everyone the mindboggling possibility of a team located in Phoenix, Arizona, called the Arizona Phoenix.
- Atlanta Braves– The Braves, who played in Boston and Milwaukee before moving to Atlanta in 1966, trace their nickname to the symbol of a corrupt political machine. James Gaffney, who became president of Boston’s National League franchise in 1911, was a member of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party machine that controlled New York City politics throughout the 19th century. The Tammany name was derived from Tammamend, a Delaware Valley Indian chief. The society adopted an Indian headdress as its emblem and its members became known as Braves. Sportswriter Leonard Koppett described Gaffney’s decision to rename his team, “Wouldn’t it be neat to call the team the ‘Braves,’ waving this symbol of the Democrats under the aristocratic Bostonians?” It didn’t bother the fans, especially after the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series.
- Baltimore Orioles– When the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954, the franchise was rebranded with the same nickname of the Baltimore team that dominated the old National League in the late 1890s. That was named after the state bird of Maryland and the orange and black colors of the male Oriole bird resembled the colors on the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore.
- Boston Red Sox– The team that became known as the Red Sox began play ” wearing dark blue socks, no less ” as a charter member of the American League in 1901. With no official nickname, the team was referred to by a variety of monikers, including Bostons and Americans. In 1907, Americans owner John Taylor announced that his team was adopting red as its new color after Boston’s National League outfit switched to all-white uniforms. Taylor’s team became known as the Red Sox, a name popularized by the Cincinnati Red Stockings from 1867-1870 and used by Boston’s National League franchise from 1871-1876.
- Chicago Cubs– When the team began to sell off its experienced players in the late 1880s, local newspapers began to refer to the club as Anson’s Colts, a reference to player-manager Cap Anson’s roster of youngsters. By 1890, Colts had caught on and Chicago’s team had a new nickname. When Anson left the team in 1897, the Colts became known as the Orphans, a depressing nickname if there ever was one. When Frank Selee took over managerial duties of Chicago’s youthful roster in 1902, a local newspaper dubbed the team the Cubs and the name stuck.
- Chicago White Sox– In 1900, Charles Comiskey moved the St. Paul Saints to the South Side of Chicago. The team adopted the former nickname of its future rivals (the Cubs) and became the White Stockings, which was shortened to White Sox a few years after the club joined the American League in 1901.
- Cincinnati Reds– The Cincinnati Red Stockings, so named because they wore red socks, were baseball’s first openly all-professional team. Red Stockings eventually became Redlegs, and Redlegs was shortened to Reds. Before the 1953 season, club officials announced that the team would once again officially be known as the Cincinnati Redlegs. Around the same time, the team temporarily removed “Reds” from its uniforms. As the AP reported in 1953, “The political significance of the word ‘Reds’ these days and its effect on the change was not discussed by management.”
- Cleveland Indians– Cleveland’s baseball team was originally nicknamed the Naps after star player-manager Napoleon Lajoie, so when the team cut ties with Lajoie after the 1914 season, it was in the market for a new name. Club officials and sportswriters agreed on Indians in January 1915. The Boston Braves’ miraculous World Series triumph may have been part of the inspiration behind Cleveland’s new moniker.
- Colorado Rockies– When team officials announced that Denver’s expansion team would begin play in 1993 as the Colorado Rockies, some fans couldn’t help but question why the team was adopting the same nickname as the city’s former NHL franchise. According to surveys conducted by Denver’s daily newspapers, fans preferred the nickname Bears, which had been used by Denver’s most famous minor league team.
- Detroit Tigers – Detroit’s original minor league baseball team was officially known as the Wolverines. The club was also referred to as the Tigers, the nickname for the members of Michigan’s oldest military unit, the 425th National Guard infantry regiment, which fought in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. When Detroit joined the newly formed American League in 1901, the team received formal permission from the regiment, which was known as the Detroit Light Guard, to use its symbol and nickname.
- Houston Astros– Houston’s baseball team was originally known as the Colt .45’s, but team president Judge Roy Hofheinz made a change “in keeping with the times” in 1965. Citing Houston’s status as “the space age capital of the world,” Hofheinz settled on Astros. “With our new domed stadium, we think it will also make Houston the sports capital of the world,” Hofheinz said. The change was likely also motivated by pressure from the Colt Firearms Company, which objected to the use of the Colt .45 nickname.
- Kansas City Royals– When Kansas City was awarded an expansion franchise in 1969, club officials chose Royals from more than 17,000 entries in a name-the-team contest. Sanford Porte, one of 547 fans who submitted Royals, was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to the All-Star Game. Porte submitted the name because of “Kansas City’s position as the nation’s leading stocker and feeder market and the nationally known American Royal Livestock and Horse Show.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Los Angeles gained a second major league team in 1961 when the Los Angeles Angels entered the American League. The nickname had been used by Los Angeles’ Pacific Coast League team from 1903-1957. The team was renamed the California Angels in 1965 and became the Anaheim Angels after the Walt Disney Company took control of the team in 1997. While the team’s lease with the city requires that Anaheim be a part of the team name, owner Arte Moreno changed the team’s name to include Los Angeles in 2005 in hopes of tapping into the L.A. media market. The result is one of the most absurd names in all of professional sports.
- Los Angeles Dodgers– The Dodgers trace their roots to Brooklyn, where the team was known as the Bridegrooms, Superbas, and, beginning in 1911, the Trolley Dodgers, referencing the pedestrians who dodged the trolleys that carried passengers through the streets of Brooklyn. While the team was known as the Robins from 1914 to 1931, in honor of legendary manager Wilbert Robinson, the nickname switched back to Dodgers when Robinson retired. When Walter O’Malley moved the franchise to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, he elected to keep the name.
- Miami Marlins– The Marlins take their name from the minor league Miami Marlins that called South Florida home from 1956-1988. Owner Wayne Huizenga hoped to give his expansion team, which entered the league in 1993, more regional appeal by including Florida in the name. However, when the Marlins moved into their new baseball-only stadium in 2012, they became the Miami Marlins.
- Milwaukee Brewers– The Brewers nickname, a nod to Milwaukee’s beer industry, was used off and on by various Milwaukee baseball teams during the late 19th century. When the expansion Seattle Pilots relocated to Milwaukee after one failed season in 1969, the team adopted the traditional Brewers nickname under the ownership of Bud Selig.
- Minnesota Twins– Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are separated by the Mississippi River and collectively known as the Twin Cities, argued for years over where an expansion team in Minnesota, should one arrive, would call home. When the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis in 1961, club officials settled on Twins as the team nickname and unveiled an emblem showing two baseball players with hands clasped in front of a huge baseball.
- New York Mets– Team officials asked fans to choose a nickname from among 10 finalists when New York was awarded an expansion National League franchise in 1961. The finalists were Avengers, Bees, Burros, Continentals, Jets, Mets, NYBS, Rebels, Skyliners, and Skyscrapers. Mets was the resounding winner. One of the reasons that team officials chose Mets was because “it has a brevity that will delight headline writers.”
- New York Yankees – In 1903, the original Baltimore Orioles moved to New York, where they became the Highlanders. As was common at the time, the team, which played in the American League, was also known as the New York Americans. New York Press editor Jim Price coined the nickname Yanks, or Yankees, in 1904 because it was easier to fit in headlines.
- Oakland Athletics– The Athletics nickname is one of the oldest in baseball, dating to the early 1860s and the Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia. In 1902, New York Giants manager John McGraw referred to Philadelphia’s American League team as a “white elephant.” The slight was picked up by a Philadelphia reporter and the white elephant was adopted as the team’s primary logo. The nickname and the elephant logo were retained when the team moved to Kansas City in 1955 and to Oakland in 1968.
- Philadelphia Phillies– Founded in 1883 as the Quakers, the franchise changed its nickname to the Philadelphias, which soon became Phillies. New owner Robert Carpenter held a contest to rename the team in 1943 and Blue Jays was selected as the winner. While the team wore a Blue Jay patch on its uniforms for a couple of seasons, the nickname failed to catch on.
- Pittsburgh Pirates– After the Players’ League collapsed in 1890, the National League’s Pittsburgh club signed two players, including Lou Bierbauer, whom the Philadelphia Athletics had forgotten to place on their reserve list. A Philadelphia sportswriter claimed that Pittsburgh “pirated away Bierbauer” and the Pirates nickname was born.
- San Diego Padres– When San Diego was awarded an expansion team in 1969, the club adopted the nickname of the city’s Pacific Coast League team, the Padres. The nickname, which is Spanish for father or priest, was a reference to San Diego’s status as the first Spanish Mission in California.
- San Francisco Giants– The New York Giants moved to San Francisco in 1957 and retained their nickname, which dates back to 1885. It was during that season, according to legend, that New York Gothams manager Jim Mutrie referred to his players as his “giants” after a rousing win over Philadelphia.
- Seattle Mariners– Mariners was the winning entry among more than 600 suggestions in a name-the-team contest for Seattle’s expansion franchise in 1976. Roger Szmodis of Bellevue provided the best reason. “I’ve selected Mariners because of the natural association between the sea and Seattle and her people, who have been challenged and rewarded by it.” Szmodis received two season tickets and an all-expenses-paid trip to an American League city on the West Coast.
- St. Louis Cardinals– In 1899, the St. Louis Browns became the St. Louis Perfectos. That season, Willie McHale, a columnist for the St. Louis Republic reportedly heard a woman refer to the team’s red stockings as a “lovely shade of Cardinal.” McHale included the nickname in his column, and it was an instant hit among fans. The team officially changed its nickname in 1900.
- Tampa Bay Rays – Vince Naimoli, owner of Tampa Bay’s expansion team, chose Devil Rays out of more than 7,000 suggestions submitted by the public in 1995. The reaction was not positive. Naimoli reportedly wanted to nickname his team the Sting Rays, but it was trademarked by a team in the Hawaiian Winter League. The team dropped the “Devil” after the 2007 season and the curse that had plagued the franchise for the previous decade was apparently lifted, as Tampa Bay made a surprising run to the World Series the following season.
- Texas Rangers– A second franchise named the Senators left Washington in 1972, this time for Arlington, Texas. Owner Robert Short renamed the team the Rangers after the Texas law enforcement agency that was formed under Stephen F. Austin in the 1820s.
- Toronto Blue Jays– More than 30,000 entries were received during a five-week name-the-team contest. “The Blue Jays was felt to be the most appropriate of the final 10 names submitted,” according to a statement issued by the board’s chairman, R. Howard Webster. “The blue jay is a North American bird, bright blue in color, with white undercovering and a black neck ring. It is strong, aggressive and inquisitive. It dares to take on all comers, yet it is down-to-earth, gutsy and good-looking.”
- Washington Nationals – Washington’s original baseball team was interchangeably referred to as the Senators and Nationals, or Nats for short, for most of its time in the District before relocating to Minnesota in 1960. Washington’s 1961 expansion franchise was known almost exclusively as the Senators until it moved to Texas after the 1971 season. When the Montreal Expos relocated to the nation’s capital in 2005, the team revived the Nationals nickname.
A Couple of Cool Videos:
AN IMPOSSIBLE CONTEST:
Pick the winner of the 2019 World Series and I’ll send you a cool KHT mug and an original KHT t-shirt with no sweat stains. Promise. I must have your entry by midnight, Tuesday April 30, 2019. Enter HERE. One entry per person. If more than one entry is received by the same person, only the first submission will be counted. (Unless you come up with a really interesting bribe.)