Friday Flashback: Football/Baseball Team Names


Dodgers, Yankees, Pirates, Reds, Cardinals and Giants

Back in the day – like LONG before I was born when the National Football League (NFL) was just a baby sports league, many of the teams shared the names of their Major League Baseball (MLB) counterparts.  Since the NFL was trying to survive in those early years, some teams felt that sharing the name would encourage fans to attend.  Baseball was king in those days.  Today, none of the team names are shared since the St. Louis Cardinals left St. Louis for Arizona.  Here are some of the NFL (or other professional teams) which shared names with their baseball brothers:

  • Brooklyn Dodgers
    • Origin:  Two Brooklyn businessmen bought the Dayton Triangles in 1930 and renamed the team to the Dodgers.
    • Played from 1930-1943
    • Record:  60-90-9
    • Championships:  None
    • Best Finish:  2nd place (1933, 1935, 1940, 1941)
    • Best Players:  Morris “Red” Badgro, Benny Friedman, Frank “Bruiser” Kinard and Clarence “Ace” Parker
    • What happened to the Dodgers?  Team was renamed to the Tigers in 1944 but went 0-10.  They merged with the Boston Yanks for the 1945 season.  The franchise indirectly became the Indianapolis Colts.
  • New York Giants
    • Origin:  One of five teams that joined the NFL in 1925
    • Played from 1925 – Present
    • Record: 711-610-33
    • Championships:  8
    • Best Finish: 13-1-1 in 1929
    • Best Players:  This is a long list but would include Lawrence Taylor, Frank Gifford, Y.A. Tittle, Sam Huff and Charlie Conerly
    • What happened to the Giants? The team has been called the “New York Football Giants” by ESPN’s Chris Berman but the baseball team moved to San Francisco in 1957 leaving the football team as the only Giants in New York.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
    • Origin: Joined the NFL in 1933 and was originally named the Pirates by owner Art Rooney but locals referred to the team as the “Rooneymen” to distinguish them from the baseball team.
    • Played: 1933 – 1939
    • Record: 22-55-3
    • Championships: None
    • Best Finish: 6-6-0 in 1936
    • Best Players: Byron White (would later become Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court).  At the time White signed the biggest contract in NFL history.
    • What happened to the Pirates? The team was renamed to the Steelers in 1940.
  • Cincinnati Reds
    • Origin:  Joined the NFL in 1933
    • Played: 1933-1934
    • Record: 3-14-1
    • Championships: None
    • Best Finish: 3-6-1 in 1933
    • Best Players:  None
    • What happened to the Reds?  The team was suspended by the league for failure to pay their dues during the 1934 season and were replaced by the St. Louis Gunners after eight games.  The Reds have the two lowest officially recognized season scoring totals in NFL history.  They scored only 38 points in 10 games in 1933 and 37 points in 1934.
  • New York Yankees
    • Origin:  Played in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946
    • Played:  1946-1949
    • Record:  35-17-2
    • Championships:  None
    • Best Finish:  11-2-1 in 1947
    • Best Players:  Spec Sanders, Tom Landry, Frank Sinkwich
    • What happened to the Yankees?  Before the 1949 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers football team folded and merged with the Yankees to become the Brooklyn-New York Yankees in the final season of the AAFC.  The AAFC was absorbed by the NFL after the season but did not bring the team into the league and divided the players between the New York Giants and New York Bulldogs (which played at the New York Yanks in 1950).
  • St. Louis Cardinals
    • Origin: NFL team relocated from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960.
    • Played:  1960-1987
    • Record:  186-202-14
    • Championships:  None
    • Best Finish:  11-3-0 in 1975
    • Best Players:  Larry Wilson, Don Maynard, Roger Wherli, Dan Dierdorf, Jackie Smith and George Privateer
    • What happened to the Cardinals?  Owner Bill Bidwill moved the team to Phoenix, Arizona after the 1987 season.

After the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona, no other NFL team has shared a name with their baseball teams.  The only teams who currently have closely-related team names are the Chicago Bears/Cubs and the Detroit Lions/Tigers.  According the team origin information both NFL teams were named to relate to their baseball teams.



Friday Flashback: 1992 National League Championship Series – Game 7

Ask any Atlanta Braves fan and they will get that warm fuzzy feeling in their stomach they experienced when they witnessed Sid Bream score the game-winning run to win the 1992 National League Championship Series and advance to their second consecutive World Series appearance.

The Atlanta Braves had risen from obscurity in the 1991 season when they won the NLCS against the same Pittsburgh Pirates but came up short to the Minnesota Twins in the World Series.  The Braves and Pirates met again for the 1992 National League pennant.

Atlanta took a 3-1 lead in the series but Pittsburgh came back to tie the series at 3 to force another seventh game.

In the deciding game, the Pirates scored first as Alex Cole led off with a walk, advanced to third on a double by Andy Van Slyke, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Orlando Merced.  In the sixth inning, Jay Bell scored on a single by Van Slyke which the Pirates took the lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning.

Terry Pendleton led off the ninth inning with a double.  David Justice followed with a sharp grounder to Pirates’ second baseman Jose Lind, who misplayed the ball which allowed the runners to reach base at the corners with no outs.  Sid Bream was walked on four pitches from Doug Drabek.  Drabek was replaced by Stan Belinda.  Ron Gant hit a deep fly ball to Barry Bonds which allowed Pendleton to score.  Damon Berryhill was walked to load the bases again.  Belinda was able to get the next batter, Brian Hunter, to pop out for the second out.  Braves’ manager Bobby Cox sent a seldom-used utility player named Francisco Cabrera to hit for Braves’ pitcher Jeff Reardon.  Cabrera hit a line drive which allowed Justice to score.   Bream was given the green light and scored in a close play at the plate to give the Braves an improbable win.

Unfortunately the Braves went on to lose the World Series to the Toronto Bluejays.

In an interesting tidbit that I read about this game was during Cabrera’s at-bat when he hit a line drive foul before his game-winning hit, Van Slyke and Bonds got into a brief argument as Van Slyke signaled Bonds to move in closer so that Bonds could cut off a potential single and keep the runners from scoring.  Bonds gave Van Slyke the finger and refused to move then on the next swing Cabrera lined the pitch which dropped in front of Bonds.

Cabrera played one more season for the Braves and finished his career with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan.  He later managed the St. Louis Cardinals’ Dominican League affiliate.  He is the only player in Major League Baseball history to win a postseason series with a hit during an at bat in which he could have lost the series with an out.

Bream played for the Braves in 1993 then signed with the Houston Astros in 1994 and seeing limited action as a pinch hitter.

The Pirates never recovered from their loss to the Braves.  They would not have another winning season for the next 20 years and did not make another postseason appearance until 2013.

Until 2008, the Braves were the last team to win a seventh game after blowing a 3-1 series lead.

At least for one cool night in October, Braves fans will remember it warmly.