The long road to the LA Dodgers' naming

December 21st, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- Why are the Dodgers called the Dodgers?

Some archives cite that the franchise, located in Brooklyn, N.Y., began as the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1883, recycling the name of the previous Brooklyn team that had failed. The club, however, lists its beginning in 1884 as the Grays (for the color of their uniform), the city name of Brooklyn or the Church City Nine (Brooklyn was known as the Church City).

According to the club, the name originated in 1896 as the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. Heavy construction of electric trolley tracks in front of Eastern Park caused fans to dodge the trolleys to reach the park. Those fans became known as Trolley Dodgers and the team took on the name, which was shortened to Dodgers.

After six of their players were married during and after the 1888 season, the club was called the Bridegrooms. In '91, after John Montgomery Ward became manager, the nickname “Ward’s Wonders” was used. In 1893, Dave Foutz became manager and the team’s nickname became “Foutz’s Fillies.”

But at various times the Dodgers had multiple nicknames. The arrival of Ned Hanlon as manager led to the Dodgers also being called the “Brooklyn Superbas,” drawing a link to the popular vaudeville act at the time by the Brothers Hanlon (no relation) called the Superba.

From 1915-31, the team was also known as the Robins after manager Wilbert Robinson. From 1931-57, sportswriters often referred to the team as “The Flock.” More widely known was the nickname from 1937-57 of “Bums,” or “Dem Bums,” derived from a caricature by newspaper cartoonist William Mullin. The term was considered endearing if spoken by a Dodgers fan, but derisive if uttered by anyone rooting against the Dodgers.

The first year “Dodgers” was written on the club’s uniform was 1933, and the club brought the nickname when it moved to Los Angeles for the '58 season.