Los Angeles, land of the misnamed sports activities groups
Possibly it’s as a result of we’re neighbors with Hollywood’s mirage machine that we are able to cohabit so simply with irony.
How else to elucidate how we’ve spent greater than 60 years cheering for a workforce that’s named after luscious our bodies of water that exist solely in Los Angeles’ yearnings?
The Los Angeles Lakers had been named for his or her previous hometown, Minneapolis, and for Minnesota’s slogan, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Now the workforce is right here, within the “Land-of-Good-Luck-Discovering-a-Lake.” (If I had my druthers, the workforce can be “the Arroyo Secos.”)
Journalist Paul Lukas, the creator of the UniWatch sports activities web site, wrote, “After I was a child within the Seventies, I had no concept that the Lakers had moved to L.A. from Minneapolis, so I mistakenly thought that the workforce title was primarily based on town title —“L-A-kers,” get it? It really works!”
A lot of our groups are, like us, immigrants and newcomers, but like us, they flourish, even after they preserve a hand on their previous handles.
Most celebrated, in fact, are the Dodgers. To the Brooklynites who bear us an extended grudge, we not solely stole their workforce, we stole their workforce title, the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, however callously snipped away the entrance finish like some vestigial appendix. (The trolley half was for the acrobatics of crossing Brooklyn’s welter of streetcar tracks.)
However their reminiscences might fog conveniently on this: Main League Baseball’s web site notes that “trolley dodgers” was an off-and-on moniker. The fickle workforce additionally used different names: the Bridegrooms (for the 12 months when so many gamers obtained married), the names of various workforce managers, and a vaudeville act. Not till 1933 did the Brooklyn workforce put “Dodgers” on its uniforms, and in 1958, that workforce and that snipped title had been in Los Angeles.
Right here’s a pleasant little bit of trivia symmetry for you. One 12 months and in the future after Los Angeles’ trolley, the Purple Automotive, made its ultimate journey, the sans-trolley Dodgers performed their first sport at Dodger Stadium. April 9, 1961, and April 10 1962.
Like fragile flowers, some workforce names don’t survive transplantation. You’d have thought that “Lakers” can be a kind of, however flourish it did on this arid soil.
The San Diego Padres, named for the 18th century Franciscan founders of the Spanish mission there, would make no sense wherever else, nor would their mascot, the Swinging Friar — the “swinging” bit for his at-bats, not his social life.
Professional soccer’s Houston Oilers upped sticks and moved to Tennessee, however after a few seasons, it grew to become clear that nobody was placing oil in Nashville, so that they re-branded themselves the Titans. Now, “Titan” seems like a Marvel character, however it comes from way back. Nineteenth century Nashville christened itself “the Athens of the South,” a citadel of studying, just like the Athens of historic Greek. Therefore the Titans, gods of Greek fable. The workforce ought to supply a free ticket to random fans-on-the-street who know this.
The Tall Ships
Now, as for the Clippers, the NBA workforce enjoying within the penumbra of the Lakers’ gold-and-purple aura: If you happen to’d by no means heard of the workforce earlier than, you would possibly suppose that the workforce title and mascot was a barber. (Properly, I did.) For contemporary Californians, the origin is likely to be simply as obscure.
Within the 19th century, the clipper ship was the swift and exquisite workhorse of the world’s mercantile fleets, a ship whose remnant reminiscence we discover within the phrase “at a quick clip.” These ships swarmed San Diego’s high-quality pure harbor, which the seafaring Harvard man Richard Henry Dana described in 1835 as “the perfect harbor on the coast.”
The San Diego workforce grew to become the Clippers in 1978, and 6 years later carried that title up the coast to Los Angeles, a spot that had no comparably deep pure harbor.
I requested my pal Alonzo Bodden, the comic and most forbearing of Clippers followers, what he considered a workforce named for a virtually 200-year-old crusing vessel, and its current plush-fur feathered mascot, Chuck the Condor.
“Must say I’m not a fan of Chuck the Condor. I get it — the California condor is almost extinct. However isn’t it that form of a nasty omen? The Clippers are named after clipper ships. Couldn’t we’ve got a pirate or a sailor? Why an indefinable chicken? Don’t we’ve got sufficient issues?”
I take Alonzo’s facet right here; in the event you’re going to name your workforce the Clippers, then an actual clipper ship captain mascot would lower a high-quality determine courtside.
In early 1985, the L.A. Clippers did briefly have a sea captain mascot who made no impression in any way, and was quickly changed by Sam Dunk, who regarded like nothing greater than a geezer kitted out for a weekend pickup sport, and whose most memorable second might have been when he tried to tug a fairly blond fan onto the court docket to affix him in a happy-clappy routine. She resisted. It seems to have been Shelly Sterling, the workforce proprietor’s spouse, and of their transient tugging, Sam Dunk managed to tug off the boss’ spouse’s bracelet.
The Los Angeles Rams have additionally been the Cleveland Rams, the Los Angeles-Rams-of-Anaheim-Stadium, and the St. Louis Rams. Fordham College, the Jesuit establishment in New York, claims to have blessed the workforce with its title, because of some priggish divines on the college.
As Fordham tells it, the college sports activities cheer within the Eighteen Nineties went like this: “One-Dam, Two-Dam, Three-Dam, For-dham!” As soon as the Jesuit fathers obtained wind of this, they insisted that “dam” was out, and thus “ram” was in.
Many years later and a whole lot of miles to the west, when it got here time to call Cleveland’s new AFL workforce within the Thirties, a confab of buyers and columnists obtained collectively to kick it round. Because the Fordham Observer describes it, the newsmen argued for a brief title that may match into headlines. Somebody — maybe a Fordham grad — put ahead “Rams.” The title stayed with the workforce even when it moved to California proper after the battle and left Cleveland’s professional soccer subject to that new workforce, the Browns. (I at all times favored the placing visible of the Rams’ helmets and the movie-marquee names of L.A. gamers: Norm Van Brocklin, Roman Gabriel, Elroy “Loopy Legs” Hirsch, Aeneas Williams.)
Now, on to the Chargers. That’s a fairly transportable title, and reasonably farsighted, because it seems, contemplating that it predated by a couple of many years our cellphone chargers and electrical automotive chargers. The workforce has needed to spend manner an excessive amount of vitality on whack-a-mole denials that the founding proprietor, Barron Hilton, dreamed up the title to advertise his bank card firm Carte Blanche (they referred to as it a “cost plate” then).
No no, he instructed The Instances’ Invoice Dwyre greater than a dozen years in the past. “It was after the trumpet name, adopted by the roar of ‘Cost,’” Hilton stated. “It by no means had a factor to do with the bank card.” Me, I’d root quixotically for an antiquated which means of “charger,” a valiant warhorse, like Lochinvar’s steed, actually a extra participating character than a bolt of electrical energy.
Most good workforce names — related or not — work greatest as two syllables, with the accent on the primary one, specifically for the timeless workforce chant, “Let’s go BLANK clean.” DOD-gers, CHAR-gers, AN-gels.” Sorry, Rams.
A workforce of their very own
Oh, the poor Angels. Their title has been one extended battle about —what else? Location, location, location. They’ve performed for years in Anaheim, in Orange County, but they’re traditionally and legally yoked to L.A. in a freeway-friction cousinship to which L.A. is just about detached however one which grieves Orange County. Actually, you can nearly make of Orange County’s unlucky geography some model of long-ago Mexican President Porfirio Diaz’s lament for his personal nation: “So removed from God, so near the US.”
Anyway. Los Angeles had a baseball workforce referred to as the Angels way back to 1892, when The Instances wrote it up as such, again when the California League held sway. Possession and affiliation obtained offered and swapped round through the years, and in 1966 it grew to become an American League workforce enjoying in Anaheim because the California Angels.
After a brand new proprietor purchased the workforce in 2003, he put “Los Angeles” again on the workforce title, and so legally, for a time, the workforce needed to be the cluttered, complicated “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.” Anaheim besought the court docket’s assist however misplaced, and the workforce grew to become simply the Los Angeles Angels as soon as extra.
However Anaheim will at all times have the Geese — nicely, not less than for now. Disney’s chairman, Michael Eisner, decreed in 1993 that the brand new Nationwide Hockey League workforce ought to bear the identical title as a Disney hockey film, “The Mighty Geese.” The workforce, perhaps improbably, carried out even higher than the film (audiences beloved it, critics meh). In 2006, the workforce modified fingers and the brand new house owners dropped the “Mighty” bit. Win or lose, “Geese” continues to be a greater title than the nondescript, aspirational “Los Angeles Kings,” a reputation that proprietor Jack Kent Cooke supposedly believed gave an air of regality to his workforce. It’s an excellent title if you’re profitable, however not a lot when the season turns up a joker.
There’s in fact the Los Angeles Soccer Membership soccer workforce, a generic workforce title with about as a lot pizzazz as a grocery-store bag of flour labeled “flour.” The brand-new Angel Metropolis soccer membership, a ladies’s workforce owned by a stellar array of feminine actors and athletes, meant “Angel Metropolis” as a placeholder title till it selected a everlasting one, however it seems like Angel Metropolis will probably be, regardless of the truth that a curler derby league had first declare on the Angel Metropolis title. Wheels or toes, they each have wings.
It’s possible you’ll be questioning, the place is Hollywood? Other than Disney’s poultry-movie workforce, is nobody capitalizing on the proximity to filmland?
From the final full 12 months of silent motion pictures, 1926, till 1938, the Hollywood Stars performed within the Pacific Coast League on borrowed turf, the previous Wrigley stadium in what’s now South L.A., a spot that’s story for an additional time. The workforce proprietor moved his membership south to San Diego, the place it might develop as much as turn into the Padres. The Hollywood Stars had already knocked round for a few many years earlier than coming to L.A.; its earlier incarnations had been the Fresno Raisin Eaters and the Sacramento Solons. Solons is an historic Greek title that grew to become a synonym for “legislator,” a phrase beloved by headline writers however a thriller to nearly everybody else.
The Stars had been revived in 1939, the best 12 months within the historical past of American motion pictures. They performed at Gilmore Area, owned by the Gilmore household, which made a fortune in oil and owned the property the place Farmers Market and the Grove now stand. From 1939 till 1957, when the Dodgers big-footed L.A. baseball, the Gilmores fielded the Hollywood Stars. It was a see-and-be-seen place for motion pictures’ celebrated faces, the celebs who turned out for horse races at Santa Anita and auto races at Gilmore Stadium.
Possibly the Stars’ largest Hollywood splash was its cheesecake second in 1950. Columns by Instances sportswriter Braven Dyer about higher sports activities tools and uniforms getting higher outcomes impressed the workforce supervisor to whip up a uniform of rayon shirts and pinstriped white flannel shorts. A few of the gamers beloved the cool, light-weight gear. The bare-knees look lasted for simply 4 seasons.
The Stars’ connection to motion pictures lives on, kind of, within the Galaxy soccer workforce, named for the formation of tens and even a whole lot of billions of stars, so you may’t say the workforce isn’t considering huge. Its mascot Cozmo, so the workforce story goes, made an emergency touchdown in Carson, did not make the workforce, however stayed on as a mascot. No less than give that critter a jet pack, gained’t you, so there’s something extra-worldly about him?
Our two high school groups — those defecting to the Huge Ten, so allow us to not communicate their names — are referred to as Bruins and Trojans. The Bruins had been initially the Grizzlies, because the southern counterpart to UC Berkeley’s Golden Bears, however modified to Bruins within the Nineteen Twenties after they signed on with the unique Pacific Coast school convention, which already had a Grizzlies workforce. As for the Trojans, greater than 100 years in the past, Instances sportswriter Owen R. Hen in contrast the college’s stalwart observe workforce to the Greek troopers of town of Troy, so Trojans they grew to become.
Personally, I favor the trendy names that mirror college students’ spirit. UC Irvine sends the Anteaters onto the sphere and the court docket. UC Santa Cruz college students selected a small little bit of native fauna, the Banana Slugs, to switch a a lot bigger one, the Sea Lions.
After Stanford College sensibly gave up its “Indians” workforce title in 1972, college students voted on a brand new college workforce title. They overwhelmingly selected “Robber Barons,” a dig at Stanford founder Leland Stanford, one among California’s “Huge 4” tycoons who referred to as the photographs in California for many years. Unamused, the administration refused to honor the scholars’ needs. Now Stanford fields groups referred to as the Cardinal, singular, not plural, for the college colour. Go Crayola, rah rah rah.
Workforce mascot characters are price delving into extra deeply one other time, however I used to be delighted to study of the existence of the Nationwide Mascot Assn., motto “Fuzzier Collectively, Safer Collectively,” providing deportment recommendation, insurance coverage hints and suggestions corresponding to “Have a handler or spotter always when performing,” and “By no means decide up or maintain infants, toddlers, or babies.”
I don’t know whether or not this affiliation means they’re unionized, however I’d pay money cash to see all these sports activities mascots strolling a picket line.