If your favorite sports team has been around for more than a couple decades, chances are its name has changed once or twice. Whether occasioned by a move to a new city, a takeover by a new ownership group or just a rebranding initiative, name changes in professional sports are more common than you might think. We did some digging to unearth the best sports team names that are lost and long forgotten—even those like the "Bridegrooms," which seem pretty memorable (it did to us). Find out who used to flash that gem of a moniker, and learn other amazing names of bygone teams . . .
Houston Colt .45s
For three years in the 1960s, Houston’s pro baseball team was named after a revolver, and its logo contained an actual Colt .45 intertwined with the team’s name. This really happened.
After being awarded an expansion team in 1962, Houston held an open contest to name its team—always a good idea, since it can result in a famous gun name winning the competition. Who wouldn’t want to root for a group of revolvers? They never did anything to hurt anybody.
The gun-totin’ nickname was short-lived though. In 1965, Houston’s owner moved the team into a new ballpark, the gargantuan Astrodome, and renamed the team the Astros. It was fun while it lasted.
From 1883 until 1906, the professional baseball team that resided in Boston was called the Beaneaters. This could quite possibly be the single greatest team nickname in the history of sports. Unfortunately, the team’s logo was just the letter ”B” instead of a plump Bostonian tipping back a piping hot bowl of beans. But that couldn’t take away from the pure amazingness of it all.
Long before they were the Cleveland Indians, the boys from Northeast Ohio were known as the Spiders. From 1887 to 1899, the Spiders played at National League Park (which dropped the ”National” from its name in 1891 to become simply League Park) and boasted a ferocious eight-legged insect as its mascot.
Some highlights of the arachnid era in Cleveland: Cy Young tossed his first career no-hitter in 1897, and Jesse Burkett hit .409 to take the batting title in 1895. The lowlight? The team went 20-134 in 1899, the worst win-loss ratio of all time in professional baseball. That awful year happened after the Spiders owners purchased the St. Louis Browns and decided to transfer most of Cleveland’s star players, like Cy Young, to the Show Me state.
Spawned from the logo on a napkin at the Chaparral Club in 1967, the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals were born, turning a fancy word for a roadrunner into one of the coolest team names (and logos) in sports. In 1973, the Chaparrals became the San Antonio Spurs, and the team still occasionally honors their historical forebears by wearing crispy throwback Chaparral jerseys.
Minnesota North Stars
In a nod to their state’s motto, the Minnesota North Stars held one of the coolest names in hockey from 1967 until 1993, when they moved to Dallas and lost the ”North”—for obvious reasons. The team’s colors (green and gold) and logo—a capital ”N” pointing to a star above—made for one of the best team name/logo/uniform combos in the NHL.
Back in the 1800s, there were apparently no rules for how to name your team. Did a couple of your players just get married? Want to call your team the Bridegrooms? Go ahead! That’s exactly what Brooklyn did from 1890 to 1898. Even the aforementioned Boston Beaneaters couldn’t touch the pure greatness of the Bridegrooms. It’s a shame we can’t convince today’s teams to go back to these ridiculous, yet much more colorful and evocative monikers.