Sports teams named after a region's working people

There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming Super Bowl regarding some rare aspects of the teams. Two old franchises, neither has cheerleaders, etc. One thing I noticed is the they are both examples of the rare team that is named not for some animal or force of nature but named for the working people of their cities; Steelers named after Pittsburgh’s iconic steelworkers and Packers after meat packers.

Below is a list of teams in the 4 major North American sports that I think fit this bill as being named for a working profession iconic of a region. Am I missing any? Any sports teams otuside of North America that are named this way?

Pittsburgh Steelers - Steelworkers
Green Bay Packers - Meat Packers
San Francisco '49ers - gold miners
Houston Oilers (defunct)

Milwaukee Brewers - beermakers
Seattle Mariners - sailors
Texas Rangers

none that I see.

Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers (defunct)

Detroit Pistons(sorta)

Neither the Houston Oilers or Hartford Whalers are defunct. Both teams transferred and changed their names when then did. Rarely does a move without changing the nickname make sense (San Diego/ LA Clippers, Atlanta/Calgary Flames is not terrible). Often times not changing the nickname is totally stupid (New Orleans/ Utah Jazz, Minneapolis/ LA Lakers and Vancouver/ Memphis Grizzlies)

The South Sydney Rabbitohs, in the Australian National Rugby League, are named after the rabbitohs who sold rabbit meat in the streets of South Sydney in the early 20th century

Indiana Pacers is a nod to the motorsports history of Indianapolis.
Kansas City Royals is a nod to the local annual livestock/rodeo.


Dallas Cowboys
Houston Astros/Rockets (for the local NASA history)
San Diego Padres (for the missionaries that founded the city)
Seattle Supersonics (Boeing is based in Seattle)
Utah (formerly New Orleans) Jazz
Ottawa Senators
Washington Senators (now defunct)


Portland Trail Blazers

True, though it’s a more specific origin than generally being named after meat packers.

When the Packers were founded in 1919 (they didn’t join what became the NFL until two years later), co-founder Curly Lambeau convinced his employer, the Indian Packing Company, to put up money for jerseys for the team, and allow the team to use the company’s athletic field for practices. With the packing company as the initial sponsors, “Packers” was the natural nickname for the team, and it stuck even though the Indian Packing Company was quickly out of the picture. Indian Packing was bought by Acme Packing a few years later; one sees “retro” Packer apparel with “Acme Packers” on it (I’m guessing because it might be more politically correct than “Indian Packers”).

Also, I’d note that the paper industry, not meat-packing, is the iconic industry of the Green Bay area.

New England Patriots? Although they all died about 200 years ago.

Does the short-lived Seattle Pilots franchise count? I assume “Pilots” is an allusion to the aviation business of Washington.

It was for both aviation and nautical - check out their logo, which had a captain’s wheel as well as wings.

The second Washington Senators relocated and became the Texas Rangers, so there’s a twofer.

Some named for the people of the city/area:

Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
New York Islanders
Boston Celtics

Does a nickname count, especially one that is used as much (or maybe more it seems?) than the actual team name? If so, Les Habitants (the Habs) are the Montréal Canadiens.

‘WTF were they thinking’ category-Washington Bullets.

The LA Dodgers were the Brooklyn Dodgers which was actually short for Trolley-Dodgers. This almost counts I think.

The NY Jets were named in part for the Jets flying overhead back in there original location and still apt today in Secaucus near Newark Airport.

And the New York Yankees
New York Knickerbockers
New York Metropolitans.

They started life as the Fort Wayne Pistons, owned by Fred Zollner of the Zollner Corporation, a manufacturer of pistons.

And the Boston Beaneaters (originally the Boston Red Stockings, and later the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves)

Pittsburgh Pirates?
I guess that ones a stretch, unless piracy was once a big industry on the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers.

Well, for one thing, it was a simpler, less violent time. The team which is now the Washington Wizards started out as the Chicago Zephyrs. When the Zephyrs moved to Baltimore in 1963, they took the nickname Bullets, which had been previously used by a Baltimore-based pro basketball team from 1947 to 1954 (trivia: the original Bullets were the last NBA franchise to fold).

As noted in the Wikipedia article, the original Bullets were not named after weapons at all, but for Bata Bullets athletic shoes, which were made locally.

Was. Like the Sonics, Boeing has migrated to greener pastures.

The new owner of the team is considering going back to the old Bullets name. I for one am all for it.

No. The Pirates (once known as the Alleghenys) took the name as a response to being accused of player “piracy” (signing other teams’ players) around 1890. It never had anything to do with actual piracy as an occupation.

Nor were the Dodgers an occupationally- or industrially-named team. “Trolley dodgers” were indeed people of Brooklyn, dodging trolleys in the street, but it doesn’t refer to anyone’s way of making a living.

On the other hand, industrial or occupational names for baseball teams have a long history, predating even the founding of the modern major leagues. There have been hundreds of baseball teams named for local or regional industries or occupations; it was one of the earliest and most popular ways people thought of to name teams. I’ll come back with some examples after I have time to put a list together.