Sports Reference Blog

Historical Franchise Nicknames Altered on Baseball Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on August 29, 2023

In SABR's Fall 2019 Baseball Research Journal Ed Coen produced some remarkable research on the history of franchise nicknames.

Coen wrote:

Of the major league teams that trace their history before 1960, most started out with several short-term unofficial nicknames or even no nickname at all. Although several reputable sources provide a history of these nicknames, there are numerous contradictions between the available sources, and sometimes even when these sources agree, they conflict with the original sources. In other words, they do not reflect what the team was actually known as at the time.

Coen then performed exhaustive research using local newspapers to find out what teams were actually most commonly referred to at the time in their home cities. Thanks to his research, we are now able to use the actual names these teams were mostly commonly known as locally at the time on Baseball Reference. In many cases, you'll see the teams had no nicknames at all and were just known for the city and league they played in. Below is a list of the changes we have made:

  • Braves Franchise
      • 1876: Boston Red Stocking changed to Boston Reds
      • 1877-1900: Boston Red Stockings and Beaneaters changed to Boston
      • 1901-1906: Boston Beaneaters changed to Boston Nationals
      • 1911: Boston Rustlers changed to Boston
  • Cubs Franchise
      • 1888-1889: Chicago White Stockings changed to Chicago
      • 1902: Chicago Orphans changed to Chicago
      • 1903: Chicago Cubs changed to Chicago
  • Reds Franchise:
      • 1882-1886: Cincinnati Red Stockings changed to Cincinnati
      • 1887-1889: Cincinnati Red Stockings changed to Cincinnati Reds
      • 1953: Cincinnati Reds changed to Cincinnati Redlegs
  • Guardians Franchise
      • 1901: Cleveland Blues changed to Cleveland
      • 1902: Cleveland Bronchos changed to Cleveland Blues
      • 1903-1905: Cleveland Naps changed to Cleveland Napoleons
  • Dodgers Franchise
      • 1884: Brooklyn Atlantics changed to Brooklyn
      • 1885-1887: Brooklyn Grays changed to Brooklyn
      • 1888: Brooklyn Bridegrooms changed to Brooklyn
      • 1891-1894: Brooklyn Grooms changed to Brooklyn
      • 1896-1898: Brooklyn Bridegrooms changed to Brooklyn Grooms
      • 1913: Brooklyn Superbas changed to Brooklyn Dodgers
      • 1914-1915: Brooklyn Robins changed to Brooklyn Dodgers
  • Twins Franchise
      • 1905-1956: Washington Senators changed to Washington Nationals
  • Phillies Franchise
      • 1883-1885: Philadelphia Quakers changed to Philadelphia
      • 1886-1889: Philadelphia Quakers changed to Philadelphia Phillies
      • 1942: Philadelphia Phillies changed to Philadelphia Phils
  • Pirates Franchise
      • 1882-1890: Pittsburgh Alleghenys changed to Allegheny City
      • 1891-1894: Pittsburgh Pirates changed to Pittsburgh
  • Giants Franchise
      • 1883-1884: New York Gothams changed to New York
  • Cardinals Franchise
      • 1882: St. Louis Brown Stockings changed to St. Louis Browns
      • 1883: St. Louis Browns changed to St. Louis
      • 1899: St. Louis Perfectos changed to St. Louis

2 Responses to “Historical Franchise Nicknames Altered on Baseball Reference”

  1. Richard G Agran Says:

    Greetings !'s been my understanding that during the WW2 period that Philadelphia briefly were called the Blue Jays...any feedback to that end... next- regarding nicknames... curious that Mudcat Grant is listed that way and Mudcat or Jim is nickname... and same with Catfish Hunter-- named Catfish with Jim as a nickname... next- another thought... would you consider listing batting /pitching logs before splits...typically habit to click on the top listing as one I use most...thanks and keep up all the good work your team does.a great job..... Regards,Rick Agran

  2. Sean Says:

    When they hearken back to older eras for team and player comparison and claim that athletes have made giant improvements, just remember Philly favorite and reserve Clint Richardson and his 42 inch vertical.