How To Get Buff, According to an 1889 Book on Fitness

You may be strong, but are you 1880s strong? Ask yourself:

– When an “occasion arises for some special muscular extraction, or taxing the action of some organ,” do you find said action organ coming up short?

– If you take "a sharp run of two or three hundred yards, or even less,” do you realize your “lungs are not to be trusted”?

– Do you get tired after a “day’s rowing or tricycling"?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be out of shape according to Richard Anthony Proctor, author of 1889's Strength: How to Get Strong and Keep Strong. His guide is chock full of sound strength advice that professional trainers still use today. He urges rowing, dips, pull-ups, and other time-tested workouts to get pumped up.

However, he also offers some fitness tips that you just don't come across any more. Follow his advice, he promises, and "you will be puffing and panting like the conventional grampus."


According to Proctor, pectoral muscles “often are so developed as to suggest the idea of splendid chest development, when in reality the chest is flat and small.” Working out, he theorizes, doesn't make one's bones grow. To buttress this argument, Proctor relays the thoughts of a fellow strength trainer, Mr. W. Blackie, who says, “Whoever knows many gymnasts, and has seen them stripped, or in exercising costume, must occasionally have observed that, while they had worked at exercises which brought up their pectoral muscles until they were almost huge, their chests under their muscles had somehow not advanced accordingly…the man looked as though, should you scrape all those great muscles completely off, leaving the bare framework, he would have actually a small chest, much smaller than many a fellow who had not much muscle.”

Proctor advises that one can develop strong chest through bell-ringing, but warns, "I have never taken part in bell-ringing, but I can now very well understand how this exercise, combined with the pleasant noise of well-matched bells, should have been regarded by the Puritans as sinful recreation.” As a way around this, he spends multiple pages instructing the reader on the construction and use of this special apparatus that doesn't produce any actual sound:

As a final note, he urges, "In regard to the arrangement described above, I wish it to be understood that in no case do I suggest the construction of special apparatus." So, uh, don't do all that stuff he said. But also don't ring bells, sinner.

Proctor has an ace up his sleeve when it comes to exercising the chest: "There is an excellent and too much neglected exercise for the chest which requires no apparatus at all, and can be taken without leaving your room, or even your seat. It is simply the steady inhaling of air.” By now it should be apparent that Proctor occasionally conflates lung capacity with pectoral strength.


Everyone wants great abs, and Proctor gives some advice about posture and offers a few sit-up routines. He also relays what he knows about other techniques: “I am told that mowing acts very effectively to strengthen and harden the abdominal muscles, and I can well believe it; but, as I have never mowed a square yard in my life, I cannot answer from experience.” And he doesn't plan on mowing, so stop mentioning it.


“Probably there is no set of muscles telling more on the strength of the body as a whole than those of the loins," insists Proctor. The guy is loins crazy. And who can blame him? Given the examples of what can happen to someone with weak loins, their strengthening must be made a priority:

“Some one falls in a swoon, perhaps, and must be lifted; but in the effort to lift even the light form of a delicate girl the muscles of the loins, if at all weak, are severely taxed. Or you may be obliged in traveling to haul a heavily-loaded valise into a railway carriage, or out of it, or across a platform, or up steps, no porter being about who will do the work for you."

But how does one work out one's loins? Simple: “The best steady exercise for the loins is one which most of us have 'handy by'—gardening. Digging, especially, is splendid work for the loins, though trying if they are weak. Best begin with lighter work,—raking, hoeing, dibbling, planting, any work in the garden almost, for nearly all garden work involves leaning over and moving that which one has to stoop, more or less, to reach." Naturally, this is the perfect workout, as "This exercise may be made interesting by studying floriculture a little; and skill in gardening work gives by no means slight pleasure.”

Should you not have a garden available, or if your existing garden isn't in need of attention, there are other strategies. “Bowling is also excellent exercise for the loins," adds Proctor.


Strong, muscular arms have been the goal of weightlifters for centuries, but over-focus on them is often detrimental to other parts of the body. Luckily, Proctor lists a sensible and easy way to tell if you are working your arms too much. “If the captain of a boat finds that any member of his crew is developing the biceps muscle too rapidly," he writes, "he may be tolerably sure that there has been too much arm work on the part of that oarsman at any rate." It is now more important than ever to listen to your boat captain when he says to take it easy.


Skipping leg day is a gym no-no, and Proctor knew this even in 1889. “In the street and on the lawn, in the parlor and in the dancing-hall, the owner of active and lissome legs has a marked advantage over stiff and weak-legged beings. You will note the difference even in the way in which one or the other will stoop to pick up—let us say—a lady’s fallen handkerchief.”

To achieve powerful legs that will allow you to lift a handkerchief up off the ground with ease, Protor recommends delicately walking up the stairs:

“The average servant, if you notice, goes up stairs as if kicking through the top of the step were the object to be specially aimed at…I would have the art of getting up stairs taught at school before drilling and the average absurdity known as calisthenics. What can be more pleasing than the springy gait of an intelligent person on his or her way up the stairs...But my own constant practice for the last twenty years, and the practice I mean to follow till gravity begins to get the better of me, is to go up stairs (as well as down) two steps at a time…Going up stairs this way is capital exercise, and is satisfactory to the intelligence, as well as pleasing to the understanding.”

When it comes to calves, Proctor goes off the rails a little bit. “There is good reason for the common prejudice in favour of a well developed calf (or preferably a pair)," he writes. "Although footmen and ballet-dancers shame most of us as regards this particular development, and yet are not the most esteemed products of civilization, there can be no doubt that the shapely calf indicates a racial advance.” Okay, we’re going to skip the rest of the calf section here because Proctor uses it as a springboard to discuss eugenics.

The Ultimate Proctor Workout

According to Proctor, "the best method of at once improving the health and reducing the weight by increasing the action of the skin is one which involves no expense and properly followed out supplies as much exercise in itself as one could get from a small gymnasium."

What is this magic workout? In laymen's terms, it's called "drying off after a bath." But as Proctor explains (in great detail), if you towel off like a madman, you will achieve results...and fast:

1. "Every morning, after washing and thoroughly drying the head and neck, sponge with cold water (and a little soap, but not much if this is done every day) the arms, shoulders, chest, and back, to the waist, carefully rinsing."

2. "Then with a moderately rough, large towel, commence steady but brisk and energetic friction. Tire the right arm in drying and rubbing the left, then tire the left arm in doing the same by the right."

3. "Next tire both arms in drying and rubbing the chest."

4. "Now fling the towel over the right shoulder, and, holding it with the right hand in front (over arm), and with the left hand behind (under arm), draw it steadily backwards and forwards across the neck, right shoulder, and upper back, till both arms are again tired. Do the like with the neck, left shoulder, and upper back, interchanging hands."

5. "Throw the towel over both shoulders, and alternately pull with right hand and left hand."

6. "Keeping the towel still behind, let it fall to a little above the waist, and repeat the steady, alternate hauling with right and left hands and arms. You now want a little rest."

Got enough rest, sissy boy? Good, we're not even close to being done drying off.

7. "Take it while you sponge with cold water and a little soap from the waist to the knees, and carefully rinse. Tire both arms drying, rubbing, and polishing from waist to knees in front."

8. "Pass the towel behind the back, as in the last movement of the former series, and haul away alternately with right and left hand, till the back from waist to 'small,' is glowing and almost burning."

If you aren't glowing or burning, repeat steps 1-7.

9. "Next, let the towel hang under the right thigh, and haul alternately upwards with right and left hands till the back of the right thigh, from seat to knee, is as nearly red hot as possible. Do the like with the left thigh. Again a rest is wanted."

Make this breather count. By this time, you have likely been drying yourself off for nearly three hours and will need it.

10. "So take it while you sponge and rinse both legs from knee to foot Then, lastly, tire thoroughly both arms in drying, rubbing, and polishing both legs from knee to heels and toes."

11. "You can now dress at your leisure."

Congratulations, you are now in great shape. But wait, Proctor has one more piece of advice: "In the evening just before going to bed, it is a capital plan to repeat the rubbing."

Fox Searchlight Pictures
18 Winning Facts About Bend It Like Beckham
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Five years before David Beckham moved across the Atlantic—and before anyone knew who Keira Knightley was—a low-budget movie about a Punjabi teenager living in Southall who wanted to play soccer became a bona fide international sensation.

Bend It Like Beckham was a surprise smash, earning more than $76.5 million against a $6 million budget. Although the film itself is British, both in its setting and its theme—dealing with immigrant integration in a country with a religious-like devotion to football (what we know as soccer)—it delighted critics and audiences worldwide with its quiet charm and optimism. On the fifteenth anniversary of its U.S. release, and one West End musical adaptation later, here are 18 winning facts about Bend It Like Beckham.


In 2002, studio executives at Fox Searchlight were concerned that Americans wouldn’t know who David Beckham was, and wouldn’t understand what it meant to “bend” a soccer ball. Fortunately they changed their minds before the film was released after writer-director Gurinder Chadha objected.


Chadha said that her initial idea to write a film about “the evolving concept of Britishness” came about when she saw an image of Ian Wright, a black player, wearing the Union Jack flag at the Euro 96 championship.


Chadha relied on her co-writers to fill in the blanks of what she didn't know, writing “jargon jargon football jargon,” instead of actual content, into the Beckham script.


“I put them into three months solid football training and they had a coach and every day they would in and train," Chadha told "They worked really hard at it. Keira, who plays Jules, got concussions a few times. Parminder really damaged her toes and was too scared to [kick] the ball in case she broke one. They really had to go through the pain barrier like other athletes in order to excel. It’s only when I said, ‘We could always use doubles, don’t worry about it,' when the two of them said, ‘No way! We’re definitely going to go for it.’ And they did.”


According to Simon Clifford, the coach who trained the lead actresses to be believable footballers, by the end of training, Knightley "could do things some Premier League players can't do ... If I'd trained her from the age of 10 or 11, without a shadow of a doubt, Keira could have been a pro.”

It's particularly impressive considering Knightley's soccer experience had been fairly limited up until that point. “I was captain of the girls' team in primary school, but we never actually scored a goal,” Knightley told Interview Magazine. "We only kicked people.”


While Nagra and Knightley were cast for their acting ability and learned how to play soccer for the role, the rest of their team, the Hounslow Harriers, was made up of professional players. “All the other girls in the film play for various London clubs except one, Shaznay Lewis. She’s part of the music band All Saints, which is really a popular band," Chadha said.

As it turns out, the actresses, pro players, and musician worked incredibly well together. "We literally had become a really solid team,” Nagra said. "We got so into it once that Gurinder stormed across the pitch, shouting, 'Cut! Cut! Have you forgotten this is a movie?'”


Keira Knightley in Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Although she had already made several small television appearances and a brief appearance in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Bend It Like Beckham was Knightley’s breakout role. One year later, in 2013, she appeared in Love Actually and Pirates of the Caribbean, cementing her place as a Hollywood A-lister.


In the film, Jules encourages Jess to pursue her dream of playing soccer professionally, telling her that in America women can play with the WUSA. Although that was true at the time, the organization folded in 2003.


Parminder Nagra in Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nagra was worried that the scar on her leg would prevent her from getting a part in a film that required her to wear shorts for much of her character’s screen-time. Instead, Chadha wrote the scar into the script, lifting the story about an accident making beans on toast as an eight-year-old straight from Nagra’s life.


After creating a 1989 documentary about the lives of young British Asians, Chadha made her feature directorial debut with Bhaji on the Beach, a film which went on to earn a BAFTA nomination for "Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film" in 1995. Eight years later, in 2003, Bend It Like Beckham was nominated for the same award.


Kim Jong-il screened the girl-power flick at the Pyongyang Film Festival in 2004, where it was seen by 12,000 people. In 2010, Bend It Like Beckham became the first western-made film ever to be broadcast on television in the country, as an event marking 10 years of diplomatic ties between the U.K. and North Korea. The 112-minute film was edited down to just an hour long.


Jules wears number nine, which is Mia Hamm's number. Both characters had the corresponding player’s poster hanging in their room.


Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Parminder Nagra in Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Fox Searchlight Pictures

“He was originally English,” Jonathan Rhys Meyers told the Irish Examiner, “but I had to read with Parminder—who plays Jess—and during the screen test we did the scene where she complains that someone called her a Paki, and I just shouted back, ‘Listen, I’m f*cking Irish and what’s your problem?’ It made sense that the Irish being a minority in England as well, Joe would have an empathy with Jess on that level. And the director just loved that, so Irish he remained.”


"I thought it was going to be terrible!" Rhys Meyers told Marie Claire. "For months and months and months, I refused to tell anybody that I'd been in a film called Bend It Like Beckham. Even in the beginning I was like, 'I don't want to do this.' But I spoke to my brother and he said, 'Do the film. Everybody's going to love this.' It's one of those girly, guilty-pleasure movies. It's on that shelf with Dirty Dancing, Footloose, and Beaches."


The musical, which ran at London's Phoenix Theatre, was also written and directed by Chadha. It closed in March 5, 2016, when the original actors' contracts were up.

Chadha initially had serious doubts that Howard Goodall and Charles Hart, the men who composed and wrote the show's music, would be able to capture the heart of a story about female empowerment and the immigration experience. “I thought, how will these two middle-aged English blokes get on with this material?” Chadha told The Telegraph. “Then I met them and it was job done, marriage made in heaven. Both of them are a particular kind of Englishman that I really love and respect.”


In an interview with The Guardian, Chadha said that Bend It Like Beckham became something of a tribute to her father, who passed away before the film was edited.

"It had a profound effect on me. And it's sort of funny really; when he died, it was absolutely gut-wrenching ... but it was like that fantastic Powell and Pressburger film, A Matter of Life and Death; suddenly time stopped still and went into color. When he died, there was this real sense of loss and tragedy, but at the same time, there was a sense of appreciation. It made me very impatient with people who throw life away. It was an epiphany. And I didn't know this at the time, but when I was making Beckham, I was totally grieving. That's why that film is so emotional and so raw, especially the scenes with the dad. It's a film that was made in grief."


Parminder Nagra in Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Chadha related the idea of “bending” a ball to the way women strive to achieve their goals in male-dominated industries. “We can see the goal, but we too, like David Beckham, need to approach it in such a way where we twist and turn and bend our way into it," she explained. "My film is about bending the rules to get what you want instead of breaking the rules.”


The Magnus effect is defined as “the force exerted on a rapidly spinning cylinder or sphere moving through air or another fluid in a direction at an angle to the axis of spin.” In other words, when a ball is spinning, it’s also causing the air around it to spin. If the ball is spinning and moving forward at the same time (in the case of a good soccer kick), the pressure difference from the air around the ball and the air rushing past it will cause a difference in pressure that will make the ball “bend,” or move in a curved path.

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

With the Major League Baseball season on the horizon, here's the breakdown of how the league's 30 teams got their names.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Norm Hall/Getty Images

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

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

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, which had been known as the Doves, in a 1993 letter to the New York Times: "Wouldn't it be neat to call the team the 'Braves,' waving this symbol of the Democrats under the aristocratic Bostonians? It wouldn't bother the fans." And it didn't, especially after the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series.

Baltimore Orioles

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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 team, which featured the likes of Wee Willie Keeler and John McGraw, was named after the state bird of Maryland. 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, as in American League. 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

Norm Hall/Getty Images

Chicago's first professional baseball team was known as the Chicago White Stockings. 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

Jon Durr/Getty Images

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

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Red Stockings, so named because they wore red socks, were baseball's first openly all-professional team. In 1882, Cincinnati's entry in the newly formed American Association took the same name and retained it after moving to the National League in 1890. 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

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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, which averaged an abysmal 19 wins per season from 1976 to 1982. "I think for us to compare a failed hockey franchise 10 years ago is nonsense," Rockies CEO John Antonucci said. "We feel very strongly that Colorado Rockies might be one of the strongest names in all of professional sports." 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. "The name we picked—it's strong, enduring, majestic," Antonucci said.

Detroit Tigers

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

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

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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

Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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. Royalty stands for the best—that's another reason." Coincidentally, Kansas City's Negro League team was nicknamed the Monarchs.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

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

Harry How/Getty Images

The Dodgers trace their roots to Brooklyn, where the team was known as the Bridegrooms, Superbas, and, beginning in 1911, the Trolley Dodgers. The Dodgers nickname referenced 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

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The Marlins take their name from the minor league Miami Marlins that called South Florida home from 1956-1960, 1962-1970, and 1972-1988. 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

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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. The team received 2,563 mailed entries, which included 9,613 suggestions, and 644 different names. Mets was the resounding winner, followed by two nicknames that weren't among the team's 10 suggestions—Empires and Islanders. As the New York Times noted, "what the fans will call the team when it begins play, of course, will depend in part on how it performs." One of the reasons that team officials chose Mets was because "it has a brevity that will delight headline writers." Another reason was the nickname's historical baseball association. The New York Metropolitans, often called the Mets, played in the American Association from 1883 to 1888.

New York Yankees

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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

Justin Berl/Getty Images

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

Norm Hall/Getty Images

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

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Mariners was the winning entry among more than 600 suggestions in a name-the-team contest for Seattle's expansion franchise in 1976. Multiple fans submitted the nickname Mariners, but the team determined that 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," said Szmodis, who received two season tickets and an all-expenses-paid trip to an American League city on the West Coast.

St. Louis Cardinals

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

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

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

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. "So far, I've fielded about 20 phone calls protesting Devil Rays, and most of the callers have described themselves as Christians who are upset about the word devil," a Tampa Tribune columnist told a reporter less than a week after the nickname was announced. 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

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

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

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

More than 30,000 entries were received during a five-week name-the-team contest. A panel of 14 judges, including 10 Toronto media members, selected 10 finalists. From that list, the club's board of directors settled on Blue Jays. "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

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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.


More from mental floss studios