Go, Carpet Tacks! The Very Best Baseball Team Names Of The Past

In honor of Opening Day on Sunday, the second of two pieces today on the history of the game.

From my extensive research, I’ve learned that baseball is a sport people watch sometimes. I could blame my lack of appreciation for America’s greatest sport on many factors—my father being Australian, and therefore interested only in cricket; the fact that when I played softball in school I always ended up in right field; the fact that my entire heart belongs to Patrick Chan—but I’ve decided instead to scapegoat the names, specifically their terrible decline in quality in recent years.

Having already fallen in love with the names and nicknames of individual players (Noodles Hahn! Butts Wagner! Cannonball Titcomb!), I had no choice but to confirm that team names were once far greater as well. To wit: the Atlanta Braves, originally based in Boston, were known variously as the Beaneaters, the Doves, the Rustlers, and the Bees before adopting their current, boring name (they also lose points for racism). The Chicago Cubs were once the Orphans (which might be a better name, considering their losing streak—see? I know things!). The Cleveland Indians were once the Bluebirds, and before that (inexplicably) the Naps. The Dodgers were once the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were once the Innocents.

What these names lack in rugged masculinity they more than make up for in… well, I don’t know what it is, but it’s something. A certain “who the hell cares, this sport is still becoming a sport” quality? Joie de vivre—as much as joie de vivre can be said to have existed in Pittsburgh of a hundred years ago? Some other French phrase pertaining more directly to baseball names, but which I don’t know about because I quit French before the baseball unit? In any case, they’ve got it.

And so herewith, a list of the most strange, priceless, unfortunate baseball team names in the history of the game—most of them at least 75 years old. (Categories inspired by Caity Weaver’s “Sometimes State Flags” wonderfulness.) Here we go!

Some teams don’t belong in our dirty-minded world.

• The Seattle Hustlers
• The Butte Miners
• The Columbia Comers
• The Milwaukee Creams

Some teams aren’t too concerned about proving their masculinity.

• The Augusta Dollies
• The La Crosse Pinks
• The Hamilton Primrose
• The Middletown Orange Blossoms
• The Portland Rosebuds
• The Tacoma Daisies
• The Norfolk Mary Janes
• The Cedar Rapids Bunnies
• The Tacoma Rabbits
• The Cleveland Infants
• The Albany Babies
• The Victoria Chappies
• The Baltimore Canaries
• The Columbus Blue Birds
• The Oakland Larks
• The Philadelphia Pearls
• The Springfield Ponies
• The Montgomery Lambs

Some team names are deeply perplexing.

• The Spokane Bunchgrassers
• The Hartford Wooden Nutmegs
• The Reading Coal Heavers
• The Fairbury Jeffs

Some team names are deeply perplexing and vaguely terrifying.

• The St. Joseph Clay Eaters
• The Regina Bone Pilers

Some team names are unnecessarily specific.

• The Amsterdam Carpet Tacks
• The Vancouver Horse Doctors
• The Paterson Silk Weavers
• The Grand Rapids Furniture Makers
• The Memphis Fever Germs

Some teams are trying just a little too hard.

• The Genuine Cuban Giants
• The Atlantic City Bacharach Giants
• The Nashua Millionaires
• The Chicago Uniques
• The Baltimore Lord Baltimores
• The Buffalo Bisons
• The Rutland Sheiks

Some teams aren’t trying hard enough.

• The Rome Romans
• The Troy Trojans
• The Reading Pretzels
• The Allentown Peanuts
• The Hamilton Hams
• The Medicine Hat Hatters
• The Wilson Bugs
• The Petersburg Goobers

Some teams want you to know they went to college.

• The Lawrence Barristers
• The Nashville Seraphs
• The Victoria Legislators
• The Stratford Poets
• The York White Roses
• The Lancaster Red Roses
• The Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown Hyphens

Some teams want you to know they didn’t.

• The Asheville Moonshiners
• The Morristown Jobbers

Some teams just picked the first animal they could think of.

• The San Francisco Sea Lions
• The Baltimore Terrapins
• The Chicago Whales
• The Taunton Herrings
• The Montpelier Goldfish

Some teams are on a mission from God.

• The Salt Lake City Elders
• The Des Moines Prohibitionists
• The St. Paul Apostles

Some teams aren’t.

• The Salem Witches
• The Hazleton Pugilists
• The Moose Jaw Robin Hoods
• The Paris Parasites

Some teams just want you to feel sorry for them.

The Dayton Old Soldiers
The Davenport Onion Weeders
The Kalamazoo Celery Pickers
The Zanesville Flood Sufferers
The Fall River Adopted Sons


Related: How Much More Do Baseball Players Make Today?


Sarah Marshall lives in Portland but went to college in Vermont, and is therefore a fan of both the Rosebuds and the Sheiks.