The crazy stories behind 19 of the weirdest baseball team names from around the world
What's in a name? That which we call the Royals or Mets would by any other name probably play just as well, after all. But there's no fun in that, and baseball has always often taken to unconventional methods of naming its teams. We're not talking only about the Dodgers and the Cubs. Dig through the less remembered annals of history and the farther flung corners of the globe, and the team names get even weirder. Let's take a look:
Teams that got regionally specific
The Hartford Wooden Nutmegs, Eastern League, 1901
Connecticut is officially known as the Constitution State, but its most popular informal nickname is the Nutmeg State -- inspired by accounts of residents duping southern traders by selling them fake nutmegs made of carved wood. They would easily lead the league in hidden ball tricks, if nothing else.
The Fall River Adopted Sons, New England League, 1913
Bear with us, we promise there's an explanation. Only five of Fall River's players were actually from the state of Massachusetts, so the press lovingly gave them the Adopted Sons moniker -- an homage to the "Adopted Sons of the Republic," a term used by cities during the American Revolution to honor war heroes.
Saltillo Sarape Makers, Mexican Baseball League
Just a few hours south of the Texas border, Saltillo's most famous export is, you guessed it, the sarape -- a colorful, blanket-like shawl worn over the shoulders. When your team is best represented by the vibrancy and comfort of one of these things, there's just no way you can lose:
The Spokane Bunchgrassers, Pacific Northwest League, 1890-1892
Shockingly enough, Bunchgrassers was a reference to ... bunchgrass, the state grass of Washington. And yes, it, is known to grow in bunches:
It does encapsulate all the courage and determination a successful sports team will need, though.
Teams that tried a bit too hard
dmedia T-REX, Chinese Professional Baseball League, 2003-2008
Look, if you're going to name your team after one of the fiercest predators of the jungle, there's no time for subtlety:
There is, however, plenty of time for excessive capitalization.
Jiangsu Pegasus, China Baseball League
Somehow, this is actually a notch less magical than it used to be: From 2005-2011, the franchise went by
"Hopestars" (it was originaly conceived as an under-21 squad, thus providing hope for the future of baseball in China). And in 2015, just three years after the name change, Jiangsu took home its first CBL title. Coincidence? We think not.
Skidel Sugar Storms, Interlyga, Belarus
Crushing our dreams of a baseball team made entirely of five-year-olds, the Sugar Storms are actually the official baseball team of the Skidel sugar factory. We're just going to assume they subscribe to the Astros' school of home run celebration:
Teams that didn't try quite hard enough
The Vienna Lawnmowers, Austrian Landesliga
The Lawnmowers first began playing baseball on a lawn in Austria, which they had to tend to themselves. So, when it came time to vote on an official team name, all kinds of suggestions were considered (from "Mackerels" to a phrase that roughly translates to "Pan-Galactic Master Heroes") but in the end, they landed on Lawnmowers -- because, according to their website, "This is what we were best at."
The Cleveland Naps, American League, 1903-1914
Sadly, the name was actually inspired by Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie, who was acquired from Philadelphia in 1902 and was greeted by 10,000 fans in his debut. More than a century later, though, Francisco Lindor was keeping the true spirit of the Naps alive in Cleveland.
Old Timers, British Baseball Federation, A South Division
Yes, just Old Timers. According to the team's website, the name was inspired by a visit from an American baseball great -- Bob Feller, who talked to those in attendance about playing in old-timers games back in the States. The team was founded with an age minimum of 50, and Feller was named honorary president for life.
Teams that thought outside the box
The Oakland Dudes, California League, 1899-1902
Originally, a "dude" referred to a gentleman/ballplayer who was dapperly dressed -- for reference, Al Swearengen spent most of the first season of Deadwood referring to this guy as one. As for the Dudes, the team earned every bit of their nickname: Players spent every single game dressed in fancy civilian clothin, including an actual haberdasher's hat.
The Pittsburgh Stogies, Union Association, 1884
The Stogies actually began the year as the Chicago Browns, trying to battle the White Stockings for the Windy City market. But they disbanded in August and moved to Pittsburgh ... where they would disband a few weeks later and move to Baltimore to become the Monumentals. Probably not a lot of victory cigars involved.
The Petersburg Goobers, Virginia League, 1910-1924
Yes, like the peanut. Believe it or not, the name actually sparked some controversy back in the early 20th century: Suffolk -- the home of the Planters Peanut Company and self-proclaimed "World's Largest Peanut Market" -- took it as an affront to their standing in the world of Virginia legume manufacturing, and countered by naming their squad the "Nuts."
Teams that demonstrated an odd understanding of animals
The Webb City Webfeet, Western Association, 1908-1909
While ordinarily pretty adorable, webbed feet are not the greatest idea while attempting to play baseball. But Webb City, Missouri -- in addition to having Webb right in the name -- was next to two lakes often frequented by ducks, so the name stuck. The team previously went by the nickname Goldbugs, so at least they're trending in the right direction.
Ratingen Goose-Necks, Division II Bundesliga, Germany
In 1985, a handful of German students took a trip to America, where they soon fell in love with baseball -- so much so that, when they got back home, they organized a team with their classmates. As for how exactly they landed on Goose Necks? Steelers was the initial frontrunner -- Ratingen is a suburb of Essen, a city with a large steel industry -- but eventually the group found some inspiration by looking out the window of their summer cabin. There was a park full of ducks and swans, and since "swan necks" was clunky, Goose Necks stuck. We swear this is real.
Musashi Heat Bears, Baseball Challenge League, Japan
Note: No bears were actually harmed in the making of this franchise. On the contrary, if the team's logo is any indication, the bears are the one bringing the heat.
Teams at the intersection of baffling and terrifying
The Bolton Robots of Doom, British Baseball Federation, AA Division
As recently as 2008, Bolton's team -- a member of the British Baseball Federation's Double A league, a couple tiers below the top of British baseball -- was named the Blaze. So where the heck did Robots of Doom come from? Matthew Norburn, then the team's general manager, held a voting session a local pub. Robots was mentioned, as was Doom, so eventually Norburn had an idea: just combine the two. Democracy is wonderful.
The Memphis Fever Germs, Southern Association, 1893
No one's quite sure where this one comes from, but we do know one thing: There are no rules that say you can't win via infectious disease.
The Regina Bone Pilers, Western Canada League, 1909-1910
This is the name that lies at the exact intersection of "completely perplexing" and "a little terrifying." The Bone Pilers plied (sorry) their trade in the Western Canada League in the early 20th century and, to the best of our knowledge, did not actually feature Denzel Washington.