The Baby Name Buff: U.S. Sports Teams Edition

This week’s blog discusses names inspired by U.S. men’s and women’s professional sports leagues.

BABY NAME CHAMPIONS

Astro
The Houston Astros (MLB)

This team’s initial name was the Houston Buffs. Then, reflecting true Texan style, the name changed to the Houston Colt .45s (as a result of a public name-the-team contest). But when the company that makes these guns came sniffing around for a cut of the team’s profits, the name was quickly changed to the Astros (What’s in the Astros Name?). One might think that the Astros got their name because Houston is home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, but this name is primarily a nod to the team’s stadium, the Astrodome. So, whether you are a Texan looking to pay homage to your home state, someone who loves contemplating the cosmos, or a particular fan of the dog from The Jetsons, Astro (Ass-tro) could be the all-star name you seek.

Brewer
The Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)

When I think of the state of Wisconsin, I primarily think of two things: cheese and beer. And while I’m personally a huge fan of the former but don’t enjoy the latter, the Milwaukee Cheesemakers is a terrible team name, so Brewers was definitely the way to go. Though, now that I think about it, Wisconsin is also known for brutally-cold weather, so The Milwaukee Frosts could have been a good option, since that would incorporate both the cold weather and the idea of a frosty beer. But I digress. Brewer (Brew-uhr) joins a grand tradition of occupational boys’ names like Baker, Tanner, or Rancher. Possible nicknames: Brew, Rue, or Wier.

Bronco
The Denver Broncos (NFL)

Apparently holding name-the-team contests was really popular in the 1960s, and this was the method through which the Denver Broncos obtained their team name. A bronco is “an untrained horse,” so the boys’ name Bronco (Bronc-o) is in the vein of other names that suggest natural freedom, like Wilder. Bronco also has a rugged feel and is thus a fresh alternative to other more popular country-style boys’ names like Boone and Colt. And the nickname Brawn further supports this name’s tough guy associations.

Celtic
The Boston Celtics (NBA)

The obvious reason for this team’s name is the fact that “Boston is full of Irishmen” (NBA’s Behind the Name: Celtics). But this name is also a tribute to the New York Celtics, a team of (mostly) Irish New Yorkers who played from 1914 to 1917. (Fun fact: Other names that were considered include the Whirlwinds, Olympians, and Unicorns” (NBA’s Behind the Name: Celtics). Celtic (Sell-tic or Kell-tic) is a short and strong boys’ name choice that is perfect if you want a unique name to honor your Irish heritage. This name could also be a good option if your family follows Celtic Pagan traditions. Sully, Kell, or Ellis would be good nickname options.  

Eagle
The Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)

I was hoping the story surrounding this team’s name had to do with the importance of the eagle in Native American culture / religion, or at least a general love of nature and animals. Or I even surmised that the name might simply be a patriotic choice, as Philadelphia was once the capital of the United States. But both these ideas were totally off base; the name actually relates instead to the American economy. Previously the Frankford Yellowjackets, the Philadelphia Eagles were named as an homage to the eagle’s use as a symbol of the National Recovery Act of 1933 (How All 32 NFL Teams Got Their Names). Still, all the associations I noted above make Eagle (Ee-gul) a great boys’ name choice for particularly patriotic parents, nature lovers, or anyone whose spirit animal is an eagle. And Gull would be a cute nickname.

Jazz
The Utah Jazz (NBA)

One of my favorite quotes from the 1998 Trey Parker and Matt Stone movie BASEketball is “the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City, where they don’t allow music.” More specifically, this team moved to Salt Lake City from New Orleans, a city for which Jazz is a very appropriate name. (Other names that were considered when the team was in New Orleans include the “Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights” (The Origins of All 30 NBA Team Names). As a boys’ or girls’ name, Jazz has a sense of excitement and flair, and this name is currently trending as a middle name.

Jet
The New York Jets (NFL) and the Winnipeg Jets (NHL)

My brother Johnny’s favorite football team is the New York Jets. Relatedly, my nephew (Johnny’s son) is named John Edward (the Third) and goes by—you guessed it—Jet! So, this name definitely had to make my list. This NFL team changed names in 1963 from the Titans to the Jets. Other names that were considered were the Dodgers, the Gothams, and the Borros. In addition to the New York Jets, there is also the lesser-known NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets. While Jet (spelled with a single T) has never been in the U.S. top 1,000, it should be noted that Jett (with two Ts) has been in the top 1,000 since 1999.

Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)

One of two expansion teams added to the WNBA in 1998, the Minnesota Lynx chose their name to complement their NBA counterparts, the Minnesota Timberwolves (Minnesota Lynx Team History). In terms of the animal, Lynx are best known for their ability to survive harsh winter climes and their preference for a solitary lifestyle (Lynx, National Geographic). So, if you hope or suspect your child will be an introvert, or if you want to inspire your son or daughter to persevere when times get tough, the name Lynx (Links) might just be the cat’s meow.

Mariner
The Seattle Mariners (MLB)

Like many of the teams on this list, The Seattle Mariners got their name as a result of a public name-the-team contest (in 1976). And though this name choice isn’t particularly innovative, Mariners is certainly appropriate for a city by the sea (The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names). Not only is this boy’s name appropriate if you live by or love the sea, but Mariner (Mare-in-uhr) could be a good choice for all you poetry buffs because of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)

Just like the Minnesota Lynx, the Phoenix Mercury also chose their team name to match their brother team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns. But, if you are like me, you might not immediately get the association; Mercury, after all, is not a sun god. The creative connection here is that Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, so major points to this team for their imaginative choice (Phoenix Mercury Team History). And while the Mercury are a team of women, I think this name would likely be thought of as a boys’ name.  

Sabre
The Buffalo Sabres (NHL)

Once again, we have a name that resulted from a name-the-team contest. But why, you might ask, would the team owners have chosen the name Sabres in particular when there were probably many buffalo-related or winter-themed options? Ultimately, the team’s owners though that a sabre would be a good symbol because “a sabre, a weapon carried by a leader, could be effective on offense and defense” (Buffalo Sabres, Wikipedia). And sabre is also a shade of deep red, so perhaps this name is meant to subtly intimidate opponents. (I hear hockey can be a pretty bloody sport!) Despite the somewhat violent associations, I honestly still love this boys’ name, though I personally prefer the Americanized spelling (Saber, pronounced Say-burr) slightly better.

Timber
The Portland Timbers (MLS)

The Timbers is an obviously-appropriate name for any team in the forest-laden state of Oregon. But I suspect this name is also appropriate in soccer in particular, a sport where feinting in the hopes of causing your opponent to fall to the field is a typical strategy. As a nature lover, I’m slightly obsessed with this gender-neutral name, both on its own and as a fresh alternative to the increasingly-popular name Kimber.

Zydeco

The Acadiana Zydeco (WFA)

Of all the teams in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Louisiana-based Acadiana Zydeco has by far the coolest and most regionally-specific name. Perhaps a subtle nod to basketball’s (former) New Orleans Jazz, this WFA team’s name also references local music, as zydeco is a French and Caribbean-hybrid musical and dance style that originated in southern Louisiana (Zydeco, Merriam-Webster Dictionary). So, Zydeco (Zih-deck-oh)—a gender-neutral name—would be a perfect choice if you have ties to Louisiana or if you love music but feel like all the typical musical-related names are all played out.


BABY NAME RUNNERS UP:

Minx
The Lake Michigan Minx (WPLF)

Mystic
The Washington Mystics (WNBA)

Oriole
The Baltimore Orioles (MLB)  

Pride
The USSSA Pride (NPF) and the Boston Pride (NWHL) and the Orlando Pride (NWSL)

Ranger
The Texas Rangers (MLB) and The New York Rangers (NHL)  

Riveter
The Metropolitan Riveters (NWHL) and the Wisconsin Riveters (WPFL) and The Flint City Riveters (WFA)

Titan
The Tennessee Titans (NFL) and Kansas City Titans (WFL)


Photo credit: Ged Carroll





Author: thebabynamebuff

Hi, I'm Vickie. I'm a baby name enthusiast, and I'm excited to share and discuss with others the unique baby names I find. Besides talking and writing about baby names all day long, I also enjoy spending time with family, hiking, astronomy, reading (mostly science fiction and dystopias), and all things Star Trek. (Are you noticing a theme?) I currently live in Champaign, IL with my husband, Kyle, and my son, Felix.

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