Content © 2008–2017

The meaning of British baseball team names

Collated by Joe Gray


Some British baseball team names pay homage to one of the founders' favourite Major League Baseball franchise. Others,
particularly early ones, just had a place name (e.g. Derby Baseball Club) or took the title of a sports team with which they
were associated (e.g. Clapton Orient). Others still were works teams and simply sported the company name (e.g. Kodak).
With this archive, the intention is to chronicle those names supported by a less obvious, but non-trivial, explanation.

To add the story behind a British baseball team name that you know, please send an email to the address at the top of the page


Birmingham Maple Leafscourtesy of Jon Gudorf
The Canada-acknowledging name of this early 21st Century baseball club has an explanation related to World War II. The field that
the team made their home in Marston Green was a camp for Canadian military personnel before they went into the D-Day operations.

Blackburn Bombers/Blackburn Buccaneerscourtesy of Norman Angell and Graham Rumble
These post-war works teams were named after aircraft being manufactured at the Blackburn plant at Brough, near Hull.
(Note: there was also a team in the 1930s named the Blackburn Bombers.)

Bolton Robots of Doomcourtesy of Matthew Norburn
Bolton's long history of baseball began in the 1930s with a team called the Scarlets. When the town's modern baseball era began in
2003 the team went by the nickname Brewers and then 3 years later changed it to Blaze. Two years later, Matthew Norburn, the
then-General Manager, wanted a new name that was unique and had the quirkiness of contemporary minor league baseball clubs.
At a session at a local pub, names where being thrown out, and Robots was mentioned and then Doom. Matthew suggested
combining the two. Originally team-mates cringed at the combination, but over time Matthew saw it grow on the members.

Bournemouth Cubscourtesy of Peter Beach and James Norman
The Bournemouth Cubs were founded in the late 1940s by Vic Beach, and the name can be explained by the fact that Vic wrote to the
Chicago Cubs, asking if they could help with any equipment. Their response was generous, and they also adopted the team as their
British contact. The team did not actually play in Bournemouth, though, since in those days that south-coast town had a strict bylaw: no
Sunday sport on council-owned pitches. Home games could only be arranged on a Sunday, but the team still managed to stay by the
coast, playing over the council boundary in Poole. Opponents included the Hornsey Red Sox, the Wokingham Monarchs, and
Chipping Norton, and teams enjoyed playing the Cubs on the road as it allowed them to bring friends and family for a day by the sea.

Bristol Badgers/Bristol Batscourtesy of Remmert Schouten
The Bristol Badgers were named in 2007 with a desire for something that offered a symbol of England, the "spirit" of an animal, and
alliteration, while avoiding a standard label of an American sports team. The badger is the largest predator in England and the team
felt it had a kind image as a social animal with real fighting spirit. The Bats grew out of the Bristol Badgers as their second team,
and the desire remained to combine English wildlife and alliteration, with the pun on baseball equipment being a bonus.

Catford Saintscourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
Like a number of squads in Great Britain in the 1930s, the Saints primarily comprised
Mormon missionaries. The title was probably tied to the religious conviction of the club.

Chelmsford Clipperscourtesy of Michael Jones and Hamzen
Formed in 2009, the Chelmsford Clippers' name recognizes the historical importance of sailing barges in Essex's trade,
and also contains an element of self-deprecating humour, with the Los Angeles Clippers being a famously unsuccessful
basketball team. It was also felt by the founding committee to be a name that rolled nicely off the tongue.

Chelmsford Judgescourtesy of Vince Warner
The Chelmsford Judges (a team in the late 20th Century) were named in commemoration of Sir Nicolas Conyngham Tindal, who was
a famous, Chelmsford-born judge of the 19th Century. A large statue of Judge Tindal can be found in Tindal Square in Chelmsford.

Crewkerne Cutterscourtesy of Patrick Carroll
The Crewkerne Cutters operated for 4 years during the 1990s, playing in a league called Baseball Southwest, which was not affiliated
with the governing body of the time. The name had two bases. One referred to Crewkerne's history as a textile producing town,
particularly of sails and webbing. The other referred to the class of sailing boat called a cutter. The pun on the baseball pitch
was a bonus. The team played on a diamond laid out on the playing fields of Wadham School on a hill rising above the town.

Croydon (Borough) Piratescourtesy of Dave Ward and Phil Burkin
The Croydon Borough Pirates (later just the Croydon Pirates) were formed in 1981 by Eric Petrie and Pete Paully, with
the latter recently having returned from the States, where he had followed the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is also believed
that there may have been a more playful undertone to the team naming. The new team was accused of "stealing"
players from Croydon's established team, the Blue Jays, who branded them "pirates". Cheekily, the story
goes, Croydon Borough kept the name to further annoy their former Blue Jays team-mates.

Daws Hill Spitfirescourtesy of Callum Barwick
This club, which began recruiting for an adult team in early 2012, found an old RAF site to serve as its home, and arguably the most
famous British plane was chosen to be the name. It does not appear that the Spitifre had a direct association with the Daws Hill site.

de Havilland Cometscourtesy of Ralph Steiner
In 1934, an air race between Mildenhall, England, and Melbourne, Australia, was won by de Havilland's DH.88 two-seater
plane, unofficially called the "Comet" racer. It is thus plausible that the de Havilland works team, who were
active around the late 1930s, took their name as a dedication to this victory.

Essex Arrows/Essex Archerscourtesy of David Shaer
Waltham Abbey, site of the home ground of the Essex Arrows and Essex Archers, is where King Harold II is buried. This monarch died
during the battle of Hastings, reputedly being shot in an eye by an arrow. The monikers "Arrows" and "Archers" commemorate
this event and its links to the area's heritage. The Arrows' adult team was formed in 1984.

Fenner V'scourtesy of Graham Rumble
This was a post-war works team in Humberside that was named after the V belt, a product that Fenner manufactured for engines.

Golders Green Soxcourtesy of Brad Thompson
Sporting one of the all-time classic British baseball team names, the Golders Green Sox, who were national champions in
1977 and 1979, backed up the pun based on the place name Golders Green by wearing green socks.

Hornsey Red Soxcourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
The club was founded in 1935 by Doug Cowling and at some point in the team's history he wrote to Boston Red Sox owner
Tom Yawkey to tell them they had recently named their club the Red Sox. Not long after, Cowling received a letter
from Yawkey and Red Sox manager, Joe Cronin, accompanied by a suitcase full of Major League equipment.

Hove Tuesdaycourtesy of club website
The Hove Tuesday baseball team formed in 2012 out of a softball team with the same name, which played that day of the week.

Kensington Spirit of '76courtesy of Jeff Archer
This team from 1976 was named after a clothing wholesaler that provided financial backing.

Leeds Ludditescourtesy of Ian Smyth
The name of this late 20th Century British baseball team was bestowed out of a desire to reflect the history of the area.
The Luddites were a group that, during the early 19th Century, opposed the development of modern tehcnologiess in the textile
industry and created a movement that would try to destroy the machinery, in the hope of protecting jobs. Yorkshire was one of
the regions of the group's activity, and there is a monument to the Luddites who were hanged in the centre of Dewsbury.

Leicester Blue Soxcourtesy of Mark Meredith
Founded in 2006, this team's name combines a classic element of baseball monikers,
"Sox", with the colour famously worn by the local soccer team, Leicester City.

Liverpool Caledonianscourtesy of George Price
When the team was being formed, the name "Caledonians" was bestowed by Andrew Simm, who was of Scottish origin and
delegated by Sir John Moores to kickstart baseball in the north-west of England from 1933 onwards (Caledonian is a term that refers
to things from Scotland). The team folded in the early 1960s owing to the cost of renting grounds and the cost of equipment.

Liverpool Robinscourtesy of George Price and Norman Wells, Sr
This team played in the period after World War II and was coached by Alan Robertson, and it is
believed that the nickname was chosen for its closeness to his surname.

Liverpool Trojans/Halton Trojanscourtesy of Norman Wells, Sr
In 1946, a team was formed in Halton by a group of ex-servicemen. The founder members socialised in a pub in West Derby
called the Halton Castle, which served beer to a number of other baseball teams, including the Liverpool Robins. It was
Alan Robertson, coach of the Robins, who suggested that the group should form a competitive outfit after seeing promise in
a friendly between his team and theirs. The Halton Castle served Trojan beer, which was most team members' preferred drink,
causing one barmaid to brand the team as "the Trojans in the back room." This label stuck when it came to decide on the
official moniker. The Halton Trojans survived until 1958, when they folded owing to a lack of interest. In 1964, the team
was re-formed as the Liverpool Trojans, retaining the label from that barmaid's casual remark.

London Exilescourtesy of Jeff Jeffrey
In 1996, a rift in the London Wolves split the first team and the second team, with the "exiled"
second-team players leaving to start up the London Exiles in time for the 1997 season.

London Metscourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
The name comes from the Meteors – a softball team belonging to the same club that was founded in 1988. The youth baseball
team was first called the Mets and then when it was decided an adult team would be added in 2007, the board insisted on
the Mets moniker. The second team – the Metros – is also an offshoot of the original Mets/Meteors names.

Menwith Hill Patriotscourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
As a club based on a US military base, the Patriots were named in the 1990s in honour of their affection for their home country.

Milton Keynes Buckscourtesy of Rob Norris
The Milton Keynes club was founed in 1986 but only adopted the Bucks moniker in 1999 after previously
playing as first the Rockets, then the Truckers, and after that the Indians. The name change
was in honour of a former Milton Keynes American football team called the Bucks.

(As John Tyas has also noted, the team name is something of a play on words, as Bucks is the
shortened name for Buckinghamshire, the county in which Milton Keynes lies.)

Newton Aycliffe Spartanscourtesy of John Johnston
The inspiration for the nickname came from the founding manager's passion for history, and the strength, resilience,
and self-belief of the Spartans (i.e. a small group could conquer bigger cities, which was also the mission of the team).

Nondescriptscourtesy of Daniel Bloyce
Unlike other entrants in the London-based British Baseball Assocation circuit of the early 1900s,
the Nondescripts did not appear to have a stong connection to a soccer club, and the title might
thus acknowledge a team naming or selection procedure that did not follow the prevalent pattern.

Oldham Greyhoundscourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
Founded by William Brown in 1935, the Oldham squad played their games at the
Oldham greyhound stadium in the Watersheddings area, hence the name.

Oldham North Starscourtesy of Pete Baxendale
The team was named after the North Star pub, which is the place where the founding meeting
took place. The adult team began competing in the British league in 2008.

Priestman Panthers/Priestman Mustangscourtesy of Graham Rumble
Priestman Brothers were a major manufacturer of earth-moving equipment in Hull and all their units were named after animals.
One such animal used was the panther, and a works baseball team in the 1950s was known as the Priestman Panthers.
Later on the reverse happened. In the late 1960s a new works team was called the Priestman Mustangs; this continued the
animal theme, but no such Priestman product yet existed. However, when a new piece of earth-moving equipment
was launched some years after, it was named the Mustang after the baseball team.
(Note: there was also a team in the 1930s named the Priestman Panthers.)

Purley Kings/Sutton Bravescourtesy of Brian Holland
The club was formed in South London in 1962 and branded the Purley Kings, almost certainly as a pun on the Pearly Kings, who
were working-class Londoners dressed in pearl-adorned clothes. Unfortunately, a ground could not be secured in Purley, but
the club found a field they could use at Rosehill Park in Sutton and so quickly changed their name to the Sutton Braves.

Reckitts Robinscourtesy of Graham Rumble
This was a post-war team that was part of the Reckitt and Colman works in Hull.
It was named after a popular product manufactured by the company, Robin Starch.
(Note: there was also a team in the 1930s named the Reckitts Robins.)

Ruislip/London Duckscourtesy of Jeff Archer
These connected teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s were named in an attempt to break the mould of mundane monikers.
Jeff Archer, the team's manager, went on to serve as General Manager of the Brunel basketball team in their first year
in the national league, in the early 1980s, and the his liking for the Ducks label was carried with him. In 1987,
the Brunel Ducks won the National League Basketball Championship Trophy.

Stretford Saintscourtesy of Chris Woodall
During 1947, the year of formation for the Stretford team, the founder members discovered that the remnants of a pre-World War II
team was still playing in Swinton, and it was decided that this side would be Stretford's first opponents. Prior to the Stretford team's
visit to Swinton, the players were asked to provide a name, and they opted for the Stretford Sioux. When the team arrived at the
Swinton ground, however, they found that they were being advertised as the Stretford Saints, because nobody could spell Sioux.

Thespianscourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
The team got its name from its players' profession. Primarily made up of American music hall artists
who performed in London, the team won national championships in 1893 and 1894.

Torbay Baronscourtesy of Laurence Smith
This team, which was formed in 2011 as part of a drive to revive baseball in south-west England, was named in recognition
of William Brewer (died 1226), who was Baron of Torbay, Sheriff of Devon, and an administrator of justice in the south west.

Watford Sun-Rocketscourtesy of William Morgan
At some point before the 1969 season, a team then known as Barnet Quinta made links with a Watford-based firm called Sun
Printers. This explains the "Sun" component of the name. The provenance of the "Rockets" component is explained separately.
A US Air Force base in Ruislip passed on their uniforms to the club, and the word "Rockets" decorated the shirts.

West Ham Hammerscourtesy of Josh Chetwynd
Although the West Ham club was not affiliated with West Ham United, the football side was a popular fixture in the area
when the baseball club was formed in 1936. The team's owner, LD Wood, actually allowed locals to decide
on the team's name and, not surprisingly, the Hammers nickname was chosen.

Yorkshire Puddingscourtesy of 2000 Final Four programme
Taking in a number of players from the Kingston Cobras after the 1999 season, this team was named in honour of a local delicacy.

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