Friday, July 24, 2009

More Baseball Nicknames

Yes. Yes. I have baseball on the brain. You'll notice I've mentioned nothing of the historic incident the other day. That's because it happened for a team I like to pretend doesn't exist.

But back to baseball nicknames... you'll remember I mentioned that most nicknames weren't official. They were given to teams informally by fans and sportswriters. That's true really of all teams save one: The Athletics.

When the American Association was formed (the predecessor of the American League) the Philadelphia team was named after an earlier Philly team that had dominated the National Association (the predecessor of the National League) back in the 1860's: The Athletic Base Ball Club. (Which played 1 season in the National League before being expelled for refusing to make a road trip to the western teams.)

The team was known simply as the "Athletics", although the team didn't actually spell out the entire name on it's jerseys until 1954 (it's last year in Philadelphia). Previous to that the jerseys simply displayed either an "A", giving rise to the nickname "A's", or an elephant (which is a whole story unto itself). The team didn't spell out its city name on its jerseys until 1961 in Kansas City.

So why the elephant? In 1902 the new manager of the New York Giants, John McGraw (who would manage there for 30 years winning 3 World Series) gave an interview in which he unleashed his a hatred for the American League (where he had worked briefly and miserably as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles) in which he referred to Connie Mack's A's as "White Elephants". The Philadelphia press and Mack embraced the term and adopted it as a mascot. Thus started a rivalry between two teams that would one day play just 17 miles apart. Mack had the last laugh on McGraw, managing the A's for 50 years (yes, you read that correctly) and winning 5 World series. Mack's A's and McGraw's Giants faced off in 3 World Series with the A's winning 2. Throw in 1989, and the A's are 3-1 against the Giants in World Series play.

A player from the A's (left) and John McGraw of the Giants (right) during the 1905 World Series.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.