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24 Things You Might Not Know About the Kansas City Royals

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Getty Images

It’s already been a remarkable October in Kansas City. For the first time since 1985, the Royals qualified for postseason play, and since defeating Oakland in the American League Wild Card Game they’ve become America’s baseball Cinderella, sweeping their way to their first World Series berth since that 1985 campaign. Before you hop aboard the royal blue bandwagon, here are 25 things you might not know about the Kansas City Royals.

1. Lou Piniella was one of the most influential baseball figures of the late 20th century thanks mostly to his time as a Yankee outfielder and Major League manager. Before all that, though, Piniella was left unprotected in the 1968 expansion draft and was selected by the Seattle Pilots, then traded to fellow expansion team Kansas City on April 1, 1969 for John Gelnard and Steve Whitaker. A week later, Piniella collected the first hit in Royals’ history—a leadoff double. That hit jumpstarted a campaign that ended in Piniella winning the American League Rookie of the Year award.

2. Speaking of those expansion Royals, Kansas City owes its place in the 1968 expansion draft to Missouri Senator Stuart Symington. The city had just lost the Athletics to Oakland following the 1967 season but didn’t have to wait long to receive a new franchise when Symington threatened to revoke baseball’s antitrust exemption if Kansas City wasn’t awarded a team.

3. The Royals didn’t take their name from any noble connections, but rather from the city’s reputation as a livestock hub. The team held a contest in 1968 to name the franchise, and many of the top suggestions showcased the city’s deep ties to the livestock industry, with monikers like “Mules” and “Cowpokes” among the suggestions. Kansas City engineer Sanford Porte managed to make that connection in a dignified fashion when he suggested the “Royals” in honor of the American Royal livestock show, an October tradition being forced this year to share Kansas City’s attention with the ballclub for the first time since 1985.

4. Team mascot Sluggerrr has a knack for stirring up trouble. Sometimes, it’s all in good fun, like when he pulled an exceptional troll job on Mr. Met earlier this year.

5. On the other hand, there was the time Sluggerrr allegedly detached a guy’s retina. Fans are warned before games that objects may leave the playing field and enter the stands, but that hasn’t stopped Sluggerrr from facing lawsuits after some misfired meat struck one fan in the face back in 2009.

6. One more Sluggerrr fact before we leave this mischievous mascot alone—and we’ll even end on a far more heart-warming front. Earlier this year, Sluggerrr helped the Make-a-Wish Foundation build a hero out of a local boy battling leukemia. As part of a day-long series of activities akin to the Batkid stunt in San Francisco, 6-year-old Isai Rojas was asked to rescue Sluggerrr from the evil KC Cucaracha. Rojas—dressed up as Muchacho de Hierro—defeated Cucaracha and rescued the Royals’ rope-tied mascot just in time.

7. Missouri native Ewing Kauffman purchased the rights to the expansion Royals after making his fortune forming and operating a pharmaceutical company. The entrepreneur lived a fairly remarkable life, with one of his particularly unique achievements coming as a child. Kauffman—the namesake for Kauffman Stadium—was bedridden for a year with a heart ailment when he was 11. In order to pass the time, he claims to have read an average of 40 books per month.

8. Office fans, remember that time Michael Scott promised college tuition to a whole class of kids if they graduated high school? That was Ewing Kauffman’s idea, only the Royals’ founder actually came through. In 1988, Kauffman developed Project Choice, a program that funded post-secondary education for nearly 1,400 Kansas City students who “graduated on time, avoided drugs and pregnancy, and otherwise stayed out of trouble.” The final Project Choice students graduated college in 2001 and, in 2003, the Kauffman Foundation followed up with the launch of the Kauffman Scholars program, a 19-year initiative aimed at “academic enrichment and mentoring.”

9. Royals Hall of Fame third baseman and current VP of baseball operations George Brett is credited with coining the term “The Mendoza Line,” a short-hand term used to describe a batting average of exactly .200. “The Mendoza Line” was first referenced publicly by Brett in 1980 in response to questions about an early season slump. Brett quipped to reporters, “The first thing I look for in the Sunday papers is who is below the Mendoza line,” referring to light-hitting Mariners shortstop Mario Mendoza, who finished his nine-year career with a .215 average.

10. Brett developed into quite a storyteller over the years. It’s a bit difficult to hear, but the tale Brett told a few spring trainings ago about a Vegas vacation gone awry (NSFW) is perhaps the best Inside Baseball moment fans have gotten in the internet age.

11. Royals manager Ned Yost has built up quite the list of famous friends in his career. During the 1994 baseball strike, Yost—a NASCAR fan—served as a volunteer member on Dale Earnhardt’s pit crew, working eight races down the home stretch and forging a friendship with the Intimidator that lasted until his death in 2001. He’s also hunting buddies with comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and even promised the world famous redneck a role as bench coach—a promise that as of 2011 hadn’t been fulfilled.

12. Current outfielder Alex Gordon was a notable name for baseball card collectors long before making the Majors. Gordon, the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, was included in Topps' 2006 baseball card set completely by mistake. Due to MLB Players Association rules, Topps was only allowed to print cards for players who made the 25-man roster or played in a Major League game the year before—neither of which applied to Gordon in 2006. Despite that, a few Gordon cards slipped into some packs that were mostly shipped to Wal-Marts. One lucky fan found five Gordon cards at his local Wal-Mart and flipped those cards for $5,761.79.

13. While Brett’s 1983 pine tar incident is perhaps the most famous pre-steroid, post-Black Sox scandal in Major League history, the third baseman wasn’t the only Royal who bent the rules at the plate in the ‘80s. In a 1992 Mobile Press story, long-time Royal Amos Otis admitted to corking his bat in roughly half of his 7970 plate appearances. The outfielder hit .277 and made five All-Star teams during his 17-year career, earning entry into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame and the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame. “I’m also in the hall of shame. That’s when you cheat in the big leagues,” Otis said.

14. Long-time reliever Dan Quisenberry published a book of poems shortly before his death in 1998. Quisenberry made three All-Star teams and finished in the top five of Cy Young voting five times in his 12-year Major League career, played primarily in Kansas City. Quisenberry was an affable, quotable submariner who released his first poems shortly after retirement. A few months before he passed of brain cancer, he published a collection of work titled On Days Like This.

15. Rookie reliever Brandon Finnegan has only been a professional baseball player for a few months, but he’s already figured out how to make himself a fan favorite. Self-proclaimed “broke Royals fan” Nicholas Knapple reached out to Finnegan via Twitter prior to the American League Championship Series, hoping the TCU product could hook him and his girlfriend up with some tickets. Finnegan shocked Knapple by responding that, yeah, he could get him some tickets, even ensuring Knapple had seats when Tuesday’s scheduled game was postponed.

16. Veteran Royals outfielder Raul Ibanez was one of Fredi Gonzalez’s earliest coaching success stories. Ibanez was a sophomore catcher at Miami’s Sunset High School when he was introduced to Gonzalez, now the manager of the Atlanta Braves. At the time, Gonzalez was working as a security guard at Sunset High—an offseason gig for the then-minor leaguer—and the future skipper helped coach up Ibanez, with the pair connecting thanks in part to their shared Cuban heritage.

17. There are teenagers who have played baseball for longer than current Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who hit .301 in 133 games on this year’s Royals’ squad. The Florida native tried out for his high school baseball team as a sophomore without any baseball experience—or even a glove—but ended up making his way into the Brewers’ organization as a 17th-round pick in 2004. Cain went out for the baseball team after failing to make his high school’s basketball team. “If I would have made the basketball team, there’s no chance I would have played baseball,” Cain told the Kansas City Star.

18. Teams have tried a lot of fascinating things to gain edges in the world of player recruitment and development, but perhaps nothing has matched the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy both for creativity and surprising results. As a struggling expansion team, Kansas City was looking for any edge possible—as well as some positive publicity—in its early days, which led Kauffman to the idea of the Academy. The team constructed the site with dormitory-style housing in Florida in 1971, aiming to sign undrafted athletes who were light on baseball experience. The academy was shuttered after just four years, but managed to churn out 14 Major League players, including eight-time Gold Glover Frank White, Ron Washington, and U.L. Washington.

19. Bo Jackson did some absurd things as a member of the Royals from 1986 until 1990, including becoming the first player to make All-Star teams in two different professional sports.

20. The last time the Royals made the postseason, they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in what was dubbed the I-70 Series, after the interstate that connects the two Midwestern cities. Dayton Moore—Kansas City’s GM since 2006—was on hand for the Royals’ 11-0 Game 7 victory, though he didn’t have a ticket. Instead, the then-19-year-old Wichita native and lifelong Royals fan camped out on a knoll between I-70 and the left field fence at Royals Stadium, hoping to catch just a sliver of the action.

21. Los Angeles native and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is very proud of his Greek heritage, something he had in common with locker mate George Kottaras last season. The duo hung a Greek flag over their lockers, with Kottaras noting, “I don’t know how many times you’ve had two Greek guys in the same clubhouse on the same team.” Kottaras even represented Greece at the 2004 Olympics. Moustakas might’ve joined him, but he “was only about 14 years old then,” he said.

22. Japanese outfielder Nori Aoki was a pitcher in high school and didn’t transition off the mound until he arrived at Waseda University. At Waseda, Aoki supported a team stacked with players who went on to have pro careers. Four hitters from his class alone went on to play professionally (Aoki, Takashi Toritani, Toshimitsu Higa, and Shintaro Yoshida), plus he was one year behind left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who made his MLB debut with the Cubs this summer. Two older teammates from Wadeda later joined Aoki on the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Nippon Professional Baseball (Hiroyasu Tanaka and Shinichi Takeuchi).

23. Once he made it to the Swallows, Aoki went on to become just the second player in NPB history to get 200 hits in a season—the first was Ichiro Suzuki.

24. Kansas City-based sportswriter Jeff Passan has helped make baseball’s postseason return to the City of Fountains even more memorable for the baseball press by showing up to K.C. home games with boxes of food from Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que, often considered the top BBQ spot in a city famous for its slow-cooked meats. Passan, a writer at Yahoo Sports, may be trying to score some points with his media buddies in return for some positive press regarding his book about baseball’s scourge of Tommy John surgeries, set for release in 2015.

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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.

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The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.


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