Were the Phillies always called the Phillies?

December 4th, 2020

The Phillies have been kicking continuously as a franchise since 1883, but they weren’t always called the Phillies. In fact, they started as the Philadelphia Quakers. They held that nickname through 1889, when they became the Phillies.

But the Phillies had a short-lived secondary nickname from 1944-45: the Blue Jays.

Now, Quakers makes sense because of the commonwealth’s Quaker roots. But Blue Jays? Why in the world? Well, after the Carpenter family purchased the Phillies in 1943, they announced a contest for a supplemental nickname. Former Phillies vice president of communications Larry Shenk found a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer from Feb. 6, 1944, which said fans suggested nicknames from Aces to Zeebs to everything in between.

A Philadelphia Evening Bulletin story in March of the same year said Mrs. John Cooks was one of seven people to suggest the Blue Jays. She said she chose the bird because “it reflects a new team spirit. The Blue Jay is colorful in personality and plumage. His fighting, aggressive spirit never admits defeat." She won a $100 war bond and season tickets for her efforts. The other six also won season tickets.

A blue jay appeared on the left sleeve of the team’s uniform in 1944-45. “Phillies” remained in black script on the front. The franchise also used a blue jay in various promotional materials, although fans and newspapers rarely called the team the Blue Jays. The Phillies quickly ditched the secondary nickname in '46, although it remained on a Spring Training roster/schedule as late as '49.