The Names of MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL Teams

After theorizing that NFL teams were the most likely in sports to be named after predatory animals, given the violent nature of football, while MLB teams were perhaps the least likely to be named after violent beasts, I’ve categorized the names of the 30 MLB teams, 32 NFL teams, 30 NBA teams, and 30 NHL teams. The lists follow, with names current as of spring 2014:

MLB: 30 teams
named after mammals: 3 (Tigers, Cubs, Royals (a commenter notes the team was originally named for Kansas City’s American Royal livestock show, not after royalty)
after reptiles: 1 (Diamondbacks)
after sea creatures: 2 (Rays, Marlins)
after people: 15 (Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Phillies, Mets, Braves, Nationals, Mariners, Athletics, Rangers, Indians, Yankees)
after birds: 3 (Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays)
after clothing: 3 (Red Sox, White Sox, Reds)
after heavenly creatures: 1 (Angels, of course)
after geography: 1 (the Rockies)
after cities: 1 (the Twins)

NFL: 32 teams
named after mammals: 8 (Rams, Panthers, Bears, Lions, Broncos, Jaguars, Colts, Bengals)
named after birds: 5 (Ravens, Cardinals, Seahawks, Falcons, Eagles)
named after sea creatures: 1 (Dolphins)
named after people: 16 (Patriots, Steelers, Browns, Texans, Titans, Raiders, Chiefs, Giants, Cowboys, Redskins, Packers, Vikings, Saints, Buccaneers, 49ers, Bills-Buffalo Bill Cody)
named after transport products: 1 (the Jets)
named after climate: 1 (the Chargers)

NBA: 30 teams
named after mammals: 4 (Bulls, Bucks, Grizzlies, Timberwolves)
after reptiles/dinosaurs: 1 (Raptors)
after climate: 3 (Heat, Suns, Thunder)
after people: 9 (Celtics, Warriors, Wizards, Cavs, Mavs, Knicks, 76ers, Trailblazers, Kings)
after geography: 1 (Lakers)
after birds: 2 (Pelicans, Hawks)
after objects: 5 (Pistons, Nuggets, Rockets, Spurs, Clippers)
after insect: 1 (Hornets)
after music: 1 (Jazz)
after basketball: 1 (Nets)
after misc.: 2 (Magic: after the Orlando theme park, and Pacers: pacing is done in harness racing and in car racing, so a Pacer is presumably the person who does the pacing)

NHL: 30 teams
named after people: 11 (Kings, Islanders, Canadiens, Rangers, Senators, Flyers, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Red Wings)
mythical creature: 1 (Devils)
oil: 2 (Flames, Oilers)
birds: 2 (Penguins, Ducks-but first named after the Mighty Ducks movie )
mammals: 4 (Bruins, Panthers, Predators, Coyotes)
places: 1 (Capitals)
sea creature: 1 (Sharks)
object: 2 (Sabres, Stars)
music: 1 (Blues)
climate: 3 (Hurricanes, Lightning, Avalanche)
environment: 1 (Wild)
transport products: 1 (Jets, formerly the Thrashers)

Published in: Uncategorized on May 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Get up to date. The Atlanta Thrashers moved a year ago and became the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets were named after a plane.

  2. Magic – an amusement park: Magic Kingdom

  3. I see the New Orleans Hornets will be renamed after another flying creature, the Pelicans, starting with the 2013-2014 season:

  4. check out the wikipedia article on early history of STL Cardinals. They were named after the shade of red of their early uniforms, they were not named after the bird. So the Cardinals are named for a color. It’s a coincidence that there is a bird of that name as well

  5. also see the wikipedia article on the history of the STL football Cardinals, predecessor of the Arizona Cardinals. This team was originally the Chicago Cardinals, also named after the color of their uniform.

  6. And now the Hornets have been renamed the Pelicans, giving the NBA two bird teams and no insect teams.

  7. The bobcats are now the hornets so there should be 4 mammals

  8. There’s actually only 2 NFL teams named after people. Specific people.

    Dolphins are also mammals.


  9. Maple Leafs are named after the leaf of a maple tree, not people.

    Jets are named after objects (or military in their modern incarnation) but not jets as in transportation

  10. Royals named after American Royal livestock, horse show and rodeo not person

  11. Frank Leahy, picked the Chargers name when he purchased an AFL franchise for Los Angeles: “I liked it because they were yelling ‘charge’ and sounding the bugle at Dodgers Stadium and at USC games.”- Wikipedia.

    The Thrashers are named after Georgia state bird.

  12. Chargers are horses

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