Gasbags To Honey Bugs: Baseball's Nutty Team Names

  • The Poughkeepsie Honey Bugs (1913-1914) may not sound intimidating, but their name does reflect the town's spirit. According to author and sportscaster Tim Hagerty, when Poughkeepsie, N.Y., officially became a city in 1854, its seal featured a beehive as a nod to the town's industrial and entrepreneurial beginnings.
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    The Poughkeepsie Honey Bugs (1913-1914) may not sound intimidating, but their name does reflect the town's spirit. According to author and sportscaster Tim Hagerty, when Poughkeepsie, N.Y., officially became a city in 1854, its seal featured a beehive as a nod to the town's industrial and entrepreneurial beginnings.
    Cider Mill Press/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library
  • According to Hagerty, Kansas' Iola Gasbags (1902, 1904) adopted their name after becoming widely known as braggers: "They traveled to these other cities, and they'd be bragging that they were the champion, so people started giving them the nickname Gasbags. And they said, 'You know what? Yeah, we are. We're the Gasbags.' "
    Hide caption
    According to Hagerty, Kansas' Iola Gasbags (1902, 1904) adopted their name after becoming widely known as braggers: "They traveled to these other cities, and they'd be bragging that they were the champion, so people started giving them the nickname Gasbags. And they said, 'You know what? Yeah, we are. We're the Gasbags.' "
    Cider Mill Press/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library
  • Hagerty writes that Fresno, Calif., and its surrounding towns produce 60 percent of the world's raisins, so maybe it makes sense that in 1906 the local minor league team went by the Fresno Raisin Eaters. They used the name for only one season, but the now-Fresno Grizzlies commemorated the name by wearing Fresno Raisin Eater jerseys every Wednesday of their 2006 season.
    Hide caption
    Hagerty writes that Fresno, Calif., and its surrounding towns produce 60 percent of the world's raisins, so maybe it makes sense that in 1906 the local minor league team went by the Fresno Raisin Eaters. They used the name for only one season, but the now-Fresno Grizzlies commemorated the name by wearing Fresno Raisin Eater jerseys every Wednesday of their 2006 season.
    Cider Mill Press/Courtesy of Fresno Grizzlies

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In 1911, the Missouri State League baseball team in Kirksville — home of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine — called iself the Kirksville Osteopaths. In 1899, the New York State League included a team based in Auburn — home to a state penitentiary — called the Auburn Prisoners. In 1903, that same New York minor league included a team from Schenectady called the Schenectady Frog Alleys.

Do you see a pattern emerging? In Root for the Home Team, sportscaster Tim Hagerty explores the weirdly wonderful world of minor league baseball's team names. He joins NPR's Robert Siegel to discuss the stories behind some of the most off-the-wall names he encountered.

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