What Really is in a Name?


The Charlotte Hornets.  Anyone know the story behind their name?


The name goes back to the American Revolution, when Lord Cornwallis referred to the city of Charlotte’s resistance to British occupancy as “a veritable hornet’s nest of rebellion”.


The Kansas City Chiefs.  Anyone know the story behind their name?


The name is actually in honor of H. Roe Bartle, the Kansas City mayor who was instrumental in getting Lamar Hunt to bring his Dallas Texans to Kansas City.  Bartle was known as “The Chief”, so the name became.


The Buffalo Sabres.  Anyone know the story behind their name?


The Buffalo franchise owners sponsored a contest and chose Sabres, believing that a sabre is a weapon carried by a leader.


The baseball version of the Colorado Rockies was not the first version of the team.  That honor goes to their hockey team that played from 1976 thru 1982 before moving to East Rutherford, New Jersey and becoming the Devils, a name that comes from myth.  The Jersey Devil was the basis for that name.


Hell, the New York Rangers were named by the press, because their owner’s first name was “Tex”.


And so it goes.  The name “Bullets” came from a nearby ammunition factory.  When a team relocated to the Baltimore area, the name came back.  Both them and the Houston Colt .45’s changed their names from weapons.


Names change a lot more than we want to believe.  Did you know the Dodgers franchise has changed their name 10 times?  Its’ true!  They went from Atlantics to Grays to Bridegrooms to Grooms back to Bridegrooms to Superbas to Dodgers back to Superbas to Robins and then back to Dodgers.  Whew.


How many remember that the Cincinnati Reds changed to the Red Legs for five years (1954-58) because of Joseph McCarthy and how basically anyone who disagreed with him clearly being a communist?  Did people really believe that Frank Robinson or Big Klu were communists?  Nope.  But those were the times.  I wonder how that uproar was.  I’ll find out eventually.


Over in Europe the soccer teams sort of have nicknames.  Chelsea supporters call them the Blues at times, Tottenham Hotspur is usually referred to as Spurs.  Not the Spurs, just Spurs.  West Ham United is called the Hammers – not a lot of creativity there.  Arsenal is referred to as the Gunners while Manchester United gets the name Red Devils.  None of them are official.  They are the names of the clubs.  That’s all.


The bigger point is that most of us have no idea where the names come from and to continue to just believe in myths and legends.   It would be better for all if we actually did the research, looked up what happened in those days.  We would be better off, because regardless of what many want to think – or as even I joked about – the true stories are much more fascinating that the myths.


Oh, and we’ll learn a lot more about not just the teams and our history, but about ourselves as well.