The Culture of Baseball Club Nicknames

The 1927 New York Yankees
“Murderers’ Row”
They weren’t all murderers’, but they had enough baseball-killing hitters to get the job done as advertised.

 

Like all living things, whether it shows in the moment or not, the culture of baseball nicknames is in a constant state of change.

For example, the 2005 National League Champion Houston Astros were known as “The Killer Bees” mainly, as we still know, for the bats of Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman.

The 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros, on the other hand, don’t have a catchy club nickname. – Have you noticed? And, if so, have you wondered, why not?

Can you think of any MLB club from any franchise since the 2005 Killer Bees that has enjoyed a lights out, everybody-knows-their-name metaphorical reference?

How about the 2016 Chicago Cubs? If the Wrigley Field gang didn’t deserve a shot at “The Redemption,” we are lost as to who did. The 2017 Houston Astros didn’t need the accolade, but they didn’t even get a whisper for “The Deliverance.” a title they most deserved above all others.

Please help jog my sometimes AWOL memory for what I may have forgotten.

Here’s a short list of the big team nicknames and identities for special clubs that occur to me from memory of 20th and 21st century winning teams. It’s brief and clear enough to summarize here in table form:

Major Modern Era Team Nicknames ….

(That Come to Memory. Who’s Missing?)

# YEAR CLUB METAPHOR IDENTITY REASON
1 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX CHICAGO BLACK SOX Fixed World Series
2 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES MURDERER’S ROW Ruth, Gehrig, etc.
3 1934 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS THE GAS HOUSE GANG Down & Dirty Style
4 1939 NEW YORK YANKEES THE BRONX BOMBERS DiMaggio & Co.
5 1950 PHILADELPHIA PHILS THE WHIZ KIDS A team of youth
6 1969 NEW YORK METS THE AMAZINS Compared to 1962
7 1975 CINCINNATI REDS THE BIG RED MACHINE Power in Red
8 1979 PITTSBURGH PIRATES WE ARE FAMILEE Team Closeness
9 2005 HOUSTON ASTROS KILLER BEES Bagwell, Biggio, etc.

We never presume or feel the need to be right about everything. You don’t learn anything from that affliction.

If you remember any other famous club nicknames from any baseball MLB-equivalent era – even from the 19th century, we would love to include them in an expanded list, if any such clubs surface and merit the inclusion. Just let me know and we will see how much support they get from others keeping up with us here too.

It’s still cool on this Sunday morning in Houston. So please join us in a little warm research fun.

********************

ADDENDUM

12/10/17: Six Hours Past Time of Original Publication

How The Famous Club Nickname List Now Looks …..

With a Little Help from Our Friends:

(All Added in Bold Type)

# YEAR CLUB METAPHOR IDENTITY REASON
1 1906 CHI WHITE SOX HITLESS WONDERS Poor Hitters
2 1914 BOSTON BRAVES MIRACLE BRAVES Last to 1st (late)
3 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX CHICAGO BLACK SOX Fixed World Series
4 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES MURDERER’S ROW Ruth, Gehrig, etc.
5 1934 SL CARDINALS THE GAS HOUSE GANG Down & Dirty Style
6 1939 NEW YORK YANKEES THE BRONX BOMBERS DiMaggio & Co.
7 1950 PHILADELPHIA PHILS THE WHIZ KIDS A team of youths
8 1959 CHI WHITE SOX THE GO-GO SOX Small Ball Kings
9 1969 NEW YORK METS THE AMAZINS Compared to 1962
10 1970s OAKLAND As THE SWINGIN’ As Fast Lane Fun
11 1975 CINCINNATI REDS THE BIG RED MACHINE POWER IN RED
12 1979 PGH PIRATES WE ARE FAMILEE Team Closeness
13 2004 BOSTON RED SOX THE IDIOTS An Attitude Thing
14 2005 HOUSTON ASTROS KILLER BEES Bagwell, Biggio, etc.

********************

New Submissions, Contributors, Their Reasoning:

#1) 1906 Hitless Wonders / Contributor Tom Hunter wrote: “The 1906 Chicago White Sox, dubbed the “Hitless Wonders” with a .230 team batting average for the season, beat the Chicago Cubs in six games to win the World Series batting only .198 in the series.”

#2) 1914 Miracle Braves / Contributor Mike Vance wrote: “The 1914 Miracle Braves because of their resurgence from the depths of the NL.”

#8) 1959 Go-Go Sox / Contributor Darrell Pittman wrote: “The 1959 Chicago White Sox were known as the ‘Go-Go Sox’.”

#10 1970sh Swingin’ As / Contributor David Munger wrote: “The Swinging As of the 70s because of their activities on and off the field.”

#13 2004 Idiots / Contributor Bill Hickman wrote: “The 2004 champion Red Sox were known as ‘The Idiots’ for their devil-may-care attitude.”

#15 Senators, #16 Daffiness Boys, #17 Bums, #18 The Impossible Dream Team / Contributor Cliff Blau wrote of these four additional examples later this same day:

“The Washington Nationals, 1905-1956, were often known as the Senators, due to playing in a capital city.

“The Brooklyn club of the 1920s were known as the Daffiness Boys, and later they were called The Bums.

“The 1967 Boston Red Sox are known as the Impossible Dream team.”

The contributions of our latest contributor, Cliff Blau, are now included in the second update from our original list, as follows:

2nd Team Nickname Update

# YEAR CLUB METAPHOR IDENTITY REASON
1 1905 WASHINGTON NATS SENATORS Politics, 1905-56
2 1906 CHI WHITE SOX HITLESS WONDERS Poor Hitters
3 1914 BOSTON BRAVES MIRACLE BRAVES Last to 1st (late)
4 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX CHICAGO BLACK SOX Fixed World Series
5 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES MURDERER’S ROW Ruth, Gehrig, etc.
6 1920s BRK DODGERS DAFFINESS BOYS 3-Men-on-3rd
7 1934 SL CARDINALS THE GAS HOUSE GANG Down & Dirty Style
8 1939 NEW YORK YANKEES THE BRONX BOMBERS DiMaggio & Co.
9 1939 BRK DODGERS BUMS Losers Galore
10 1950 PHILADELPHIA PHILS THE WHIZ KIDS A team of youths
11 1959 CHI WHITE SOX THE GO-GO SOX Small Ball Kings
12 1967 BOSTON RED SOX IMPOSSIBLE DREAM Ruth Curse Relief
13 1969 NEW YORK METS THE AMAZINS Compared to 1962
14 1970s OAKLAND As SWINGIN’ As Fast Lane Fun
15 1975 CINCINNATI REDS BIG RED MACHINE Power in Red
16 1979 PGH PIRATES WE ARE FAMILEE Team Closeness
17 2004 BOSTON RED SOX THE IDIOTS An Attitude Thing
18 2005 HOUSTON ASTROS KILLER BEES Bagwell, Biggio

It’s possible that “Hitless No-Wonders” might also have worked for the old AL Nationals by the time they shifted politically to “Senators” as their largely informal, but mistakenly considered by the faraway public as official nickname, but no one apparently thought of it.

No Wonder wins again.

Thanks, guys! And that’s exactly why I needed your help. Three of those names were instantly recognizable as Legends. The other two, the Idiots and Swingers, not so much. Any others that come in will be added as they arrive. If there are any up there that are not so well known to all, in time, we can always edit it down to only those that truly deserve legend shelf status.

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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7 Responses to “The Culture of Baseball Club Nicknames”

  1. bhick6 Says:

    The 2004 champion Red Sox were known as “The Idiots” for their devil-may-care attitude.

    Bill Hickman

  2. David Munger Says:

    The Swinging As of the 70s because of their activities on and off the field.

  3. Tom Hunter Says:

    The 1906 Chicago White Sox, dubbed the “Hitless Wonders” with a .230 team batting average for the season, beat the Chicago Cubs in six games to win the World Series batting only .198 in the series.

  4. Darrell Pittman Says:

    The 1959 Chicago White Sox were known as the “Go-Go Sox”

  5. shinerbock80 Says:

    The 1914 Miracle Braves because of their resurgence from the depths of the NL.

  6. Cliff Blau Says:

    The Washington Nationals, 1905-1956, were often known as the Senators, due to playing in a capital city.

    The Brooklyn club of the 1920s were known as the Daffiness Boys, and later they were called The Bums.

    The 1967 Boston Red Sox are known as the Impossible Dream team.

  7. Rick B. Says:

    The 1982 AL Champion Milwaukee Brewers were known as “Harvey’s Wallbangers” because of manager Harvey Kuenn & their home run hitting prowess (& the drink by the same name, of course).

    The 1983 NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies were dubbed the “Wheeze Kids,” a takeoff on the franchises earlier “Whiz Kids,” because they had so many aging stars at the tail end of their careers (Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Tony Perez, and more).

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