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19th Century MLB team names

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  • 19th Century MLB team names

    Do you generally agree with BR on this? Or do you have any major discrepancies with any teams?

  • #2
    I'm always shocked that they even have stats on some of these teams.
    "(Shoeless Joe Jackson's fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning." -- Connie Mack

    "I have the ultimate respect for Whitesox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Redsox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country."--Jim Caple, ESPN (Jan. 12, 2011)


    • #3
      Doesn't help much.

      I'm looking for some things like what were the Ruby Legs (Worcester) really called at the time, etc.


      • #4
        The names in baseball-reference (which apparently are from some other standard database) are wildly unreliable well into the 20th century. They are based on a false assumption about how team names and nicknames worked, anachronistically projecting the modern system long before it developed.

        What was the Worcester team actually called? The vast majority of the time, it was "Worcester" in box scores or "the Worcesters" in narrative text. More colorful nicknames were occasionally used by newspaper writers seeking to punch their prose up a bit, but there was no consistency to these nicknames, and they weren't especially common. This was the pattern for most National League teams. American Association teams more often had official colorful names (e.g. "Athletics of Philadelphia"), but even in the AA this was not universal.

        So far as I can tell, some researcher at some point went through old newspapers and tried to identify a standard nickname for each team each year. It simply didn't work like that, and the results are not pretty. The most frequent resulting problem is that some passing use gets enshrined in modern sources as the team's quasi-official name. In at least one case, the result is pure fantasy: there is no known instance of the 1877 Bostons being called the "Red Caps". This is a useful canary-in-the-coal-mine indicator: when I see a modern writer call the Bostons the "Red Caps" I know his research skills are weak. (Then there is the bad habit of calling early baseball spectators "cranks". But I digress.)


        • #5
          It was quite a contrast between Major League team nicknames and minor league, semipro, and town team nicknames. Small town newspapers latched onto a nickname and that was the name everyone called the team. The nicknames ranged from uniform colors, fire ladder companies, local industries, or even the names of the team founder. If a team didn't have a nickname then the papers addressed them as simply their town name + apostrophe "s". One of my favorite nicknames was the Taylor Bashi Bazouks, the nickname referring to turmoil in the Middle East during the 19th Century.
          "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
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