Picking a good team name in professional sports is difficult, especially today. Most of the good names are already taken, and thus newer leagues generally have worse, or more obscure, team names. This can be seen in both the WNBA and MLS. Baseball, however, is one of the oldest sports around. For the most part, MLB teams have fairly regular and “good” names. Therefore, it is somewhat puzzling that we have to go far back into the sport’s history to find bad names. I assure you these fifteen teams listed did actually exist, and are not names I just made up.
15. Philadelphia Whites
It is very possible that this team is named after the color white, and not the race. However, given that this team existed from 1873-1875, it is also plausible that the team name represented the racial demographic of the team. If the team is just named for the color, it is probably the worst color they could have chosen. I cannot imagine the PR nightmare of a team called the Whites in 2018, and all of it would be justified.
14. Brooklyn Superbas
As far as I have been able to find, “superba” is a Latin adjective meaning “superb”. This name comes in at 14 only because it actually means something good. However, there are so many better ways to do this. This name is essentially just saying the team is good, in its best interpretation. They might have also thought it would be cool to use a dead language in their team name, we cannot say for sure. The legacy of the Superbas lives on, as they later became known to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think its safe to say a name based on the dodging of cars is better than whatever Latin adjective we see here.
13. Cleveland Forest Citys
Don’t you just love when the team name is based on the city? Good examples of this tactic would include the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. Bad examples of this tactic would include the Cleveland Forest Citys. The reason for this atrocious name is obvious, as Cleveland was nicknamed “The Forest City”. The modern version of this name might be the Cleveland Lands. The funniest thing about this name is that they were not the only team in the league named the Forest Citys. The 1871 National Association also included the Rockford Forest Citys, meaning 2 of the 9 total teams in the league were called the Forest Citys.
12. St. Louis Perfectos
Only four teams in, and we already have two that could not find a good enough name in English. The Perfectos at least chose a language that is still spoken. As far as I know, St. Louis is not known for a heavy Spanish-speaking population. However, there is one reasonable conclusion I can make about the origin. The Perfectos were only called the Perfectos for one season (the franchise is now called the St. Louis Cardinals). That season was in 1899, the year following the Spanish-American War. It is possible that the Perfectos were simply mocking the country whom the United States had just defeated in war.
11. Chicago Whales
Given some of the teams on this list, it may be unfair to make fun of a team who just chose an animal to be their team name. However, there are many more menacing animals than a whale to choose from. The only other teams at the time that were named for an animal were the Tigers, Terriers, Terrapins, Robins, Cubs, and Cardinals. That doesn’t exactly take away all of the good options. Also, as far as I know, there are no whales in Lake Michigan. A name like the Miami Marlins, makes sense, because their are marlins in Miami. Of these 15 teams, the whales is one of the hardest to understand, in terms of the thought process that brought them to that decision.
10. Baltimore Marylands
It is a recurring theme that teams try to make words plural that were never intended to be in the plural form. This one is surely one of the least creative team names in sports history. It’s almost like they didn’t know they had to come up with a team name and submitted this one last minute. “Baseball Team from Baltimore” would have been better because with that name, at least I know they didn’t make an attempt to come up with a good name. I also feel like its important to include that this franchise ever only played six games, and lost all of them while putting up someone of the worst statistics of all time.
9. Newark Peppers
I apologize to people from Newark, but there is no way Newark should have ever had a Major League Baseball team. Their name choice immediately proves that statement correct without having to look any further. Whoever came up with this makes the Chicago Whales look like geniuses. This team actually named themselves after a food. Maybe if the peppers were really spicy they would be scary. Otherwise, I would not exactly be shaking in my boots before playing the peppers
8. Brooklyn Tip-Tops
Although not the same franchise, the Tip-Tops clearly took the Superbas’ approach in choosing a name. The Tip-Tops were not trying to hide their self-glorifying name behind a Latin adjective; they just called themselves what they wanted to be. This name might have evolved into the Brooklyn World Series Winners if given more than two years to exist. When people have hyphenated names, I assume it gets annoying to write down, and can sometimes be impossible to fit on the back of a jersey. The Brooklyn Tip-Tops got to choose their name, and still elected to go with the hyphen. I find it funny how so many of these teams only existed for a few years, probably because the league was embarrassed to have a team called the Tip-Tops in their league.
7. Hartford Dark Blues
There are certainly teams that have pulled off a color as their name, such as the Stanford Cardinal and Harvard Crimson. I couldn’t help but notice that in those teams, the color is only one word. You don’t see any teams called the Yellow-Greens or the Bright Pinks. The Dark Blues decided they needed to be really specific, so they weren’t confused with other shades of blue. In case you were wondering, there were not any other teams that had shades of blue as their team name, and there was no team just called the Blues. It must have not crossed their mind that they could have just called themselves the Blues (like the St. Louis Blues in the NHL), and worn dark blue.
6. Brooklyn Bridegrooms
Brooklyn makes its third appearance on this list in the form of the Bridegrooms. Given how bad Brooklyn is at naming teams, it pleases me to see that they no longer have team on which to inflict that curse. I’ll give them a break though, because people about to get married are known to be good at baseball. Honestly, this name is so bad I don’t know how to dissect it. There are a lot of human roles that would make for good names, like maybe a hunter or a soldier. A bridegroom probably comes in at close to last on that list.
5. Pittsburgh Burghers
No, this team is not named after food like the Peppers, they did something worse. I understand that the New York Mets is basically the same thing as this, calling themselves people from a city. The New York Mets, however, doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like the Pittsburgh Burghers. They might have been better off just calling themselves the Pittsburgh Ers. It’s no mystery why this team dissolved after only one year of existence.
4. Middletown Mansfields
I really don’t know why, but lots of teams just loved to name themselves after other cities. The problem with this one is that nobody has ever heard of Middletown nor Mansfield. If the team was called the Mansfield Middletowns instead, I would not be able to tell the difference. Nobody in history mastered the reversible name quite like the Mansfields. Again, a word that was never intended to be used in the plural form is pluralized by a late late nineteenth century baseball team.
3. Worcester Ruby Legs
“Well if the Red Stockings is already taken, we’ll just be the… uh… Ruby Legs”. If only that were the origin story of this name. The Ruby Legs’ first season was 1880, a year in which there was no team called the Red Stockings or Red Sox. Worcester clearly wanted to be named after a body part. They can do that, but when I call my Fantasy Baseball team the Blue Kidneys, everyone says it’s a bad name. Cincinnati later called themselves the Redlegs, which evolved into the Reds. I think this name is better because they didn’t try to use a crayon color to describe their legs.
2. Cleveland Infants
Yes, there is a name worse than this. The idea of having an intimidating mascot clearly was not prevalent in the late 1800’s. I don’t know if they thought about this, but most infants are not very good at baseball. The name might be fitting, because the team wasn’t very good at baseball either. In their first and only season, they finished 20 games under .500. I am allowed to include this team on the list because they were a real team, but I would be surprised if this was not a joke.
1. Chicago Orphans
You might think the Chicago Cubs have a good name, but for five years that franchise was called the Orphans. They could have been sponsored by an orphanage, or something along those lines, but if I were an orphanage I would not want the team I sponsored to actually call themselves the Orphans. However, I can tell you for a fact that this is one of the most tightly-knit squads in baseball history. Most players say their team is their second family. For the Orphans, the team was their only family (the team did not actually consist of all orphans).
So next time you think the Washington Redskins or the San Diego Padres should change their name, just be thankful they aren’t called the orphans.