Sports teams with the most name changes

I was looking at the Wikipedia entry on the Atlanta Braves, and noticed that the team has had a lot of name changes:

Atlanta Braves (1966–present)
Milwaukee Braves (1953–1965)
Boston Braves (1941–1952)
Boston Bees (1936–1940)
Boston Braves (1912–1935)
Boston Rustlers (1911)
Boston Doves (1907–1910)
Boston Beaneaters (1883–1906)
Boston Red Caps (1876–1882)
Boston Red Stockings (1871–1875)

Granted, most of these were in its early years and a few were due to city changes. I do wonder about the thought process behind changing your name to the Beaneaters.

You have to be careful about name changes before say 1960 or so, and especially pre-WWII, because often there wasn’t a very solid idea of an official name. Journalists and fans often called a team by whatever name they fancied, and teams, which didn’t have as clear an idea of trademarks and marketing, often just went along.

For example for the early days of the Boston Red Sox, when Red Stockings was still associated with the Boston team in the National League, a lot of lists will say that the team was called the Pilgrims or Puritans. But really the team’s name was just “Boston,” and perhaps “Boston (American League)” or “Boston Americans” if there was a chance of ambiguity.

The Dodgers flip-flopped between names a lot in their early years. They didn’t officially become the Dodgers until surprising late, in the 1930s.

Los Angeles Dodgers (1958–present)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1932–1957)
Brooklyn Robins (1914–1931)
Brooklyn Superbas (1913)
Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers (1911–1912)
Brooklyn Superbas (1899–1910)
Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1896–1898)
Brooklyn Grooms (1891–1895)
Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1888–1890)
Brooklyn Grays (1885–1887)
Brooklyn Atlantics (1884)

In the NFL, we’ve had:

Chicago Cardinals (1923-1943)
Chicago-Pittsburgh Cardinals-Steelers (1944)*
Chicago Cardinals (1945-1959)
St. Louis Cardinals (1960-1987)
Phoenix Cardinals (1988-1993)
Arizona Cardinals (1994-present)

Cleveland Rams (1937-1945)
Los Angeles Rams (1946-1994)
St. Louis Rams (1995-2015)
Los Angeles Rams (2016-present)

  • Due to a shortage of players during WWII, the Steelers fielded a joint team with the Cardinals in 1994 (after having fielded a joint team with the Eagles in 1943)

When I read that one years ago my first reaction was…“Super Sheep?”

The cases of both the Braves and Dodgers are, as Ascenray points out, not that they changed their name, it’s just that they did not have a name, so people called them lots of things. The National League team based in Brooklyn in 1911 was not officially called the “Trolley Dodgers,” not had it been officially called the “Superbas” the year before. These were just nicknames that got hung on the team as popularity came and went, no more official than people called the Miami Dolphins “the Fish” or calling the 1975-1976 Reds “The Big Red Machine.” Baseball teams in those days usually did not trademark nicknames, since merchandising wasn’t much of a thing. The Brooklyn baseball team was legally just “Brooklyn Base Ball Club” (the two word “Base ball” styling was normal in the 19th century) and they didn’t start wearing jerseys that said “Dodgers” until the 1930s, so in any sense that matters the only nickname the team has really ever officially had is “Dodgers.”

Rochester Royals
Cincinnati Royals
Kansas City-Omaha Kings
Kansas City Kings
Sacramento Kings.

Five city and two name changes. These are all modern enough to have official names and logos.

The team currently known as the Washington wizards was previously the Washington Bullets, and before that the Capital Bullets, and before that the Baltimore Bullets, and before THAT the Chicago Zephyrs (zephyrs??) and before THAT the Chicago Packers. Three cities, 6 different names, and all (barely) within my lifetime.

Thanks. I wonder if Wikipedia knows all this, as they appear to have precise beginning and end years for the names.

I assume that the Beaneaters moniker was due to the fact that the team was in Boston, and perhaps given to them by opponents or others. I think just about everyone eats beans, so the team might as well be called the Waterdrinkers or Airbreathers.

Well, Boston baked beans are, or at least were, a thing. You can still get cans of Boston baked beans in my corner of NY state. Not completely sure how they’re different from other baked beans, but there you go.

“People say in Boston, even beans do it – let’s do it, let’s fall in love!”

The most I can think of for ice hockey:
California Seals
Oakland Seals
California Golden Seals
Cleveland Arrows
(then the team merged into the existing Minnesota North Stars, which later became the Dallas Stars)

I thought the Cleveland NHL team was the Barons. No?

Yup, they were the Cleveland Barons.

The American Basketball Association was legitimate enough to force a merger with the NBA, but not successful enough to keep franchises solvent. The “winner” i name changes was:

New Orleans Buccaneers
Louisiana Buccaneers
Memphis Pros
Memphis Tams
Memphis Sounds
Baltimore Hustlers
Baltimore Claws

I mostly know them for the candy called Boston Baked Beans. You can find it many places, even Walmart sells it.

Do you not know that Boston is called Beantown? :dubious:

The reason why Boston is Beantown is that its baked bean recipe dates back to colonial days. The city exported rum as one corner of the triangular slave trade in the Atlantic. Rum was made by fermenting molasses. They took to cooking beans in molasses since there was an abundance of it (baked beans being a Native American staple that the colonists adopted). That particular recipe has been part of the city’s culture and traditions for centuries.

In the early days, teams didn’t choose their names; fans and sports writers did. For example, I once read the following story about the origin of “Braves”. The Boston NL club had a photo over its ticket of an Indian chief known for his honesty and probity and fans started calling the team the Braves in response.

Extra credit: What was the name of the Indian chief known for honesty and probity:


I did, but wouldn’t think it was a preferred nickname, considering the purported side effects of eating beans. So I assumed it was given to them by opponents.

Like other early team nicknames, it was given to them by sportswriters. And it was a more innocent age. Although people would have been aware of it, no one would have publicly acknowledged the effects of eating beans.

The names the sportwriters came up with were intended to be memorable, not complimentary. The team was known as the “Rustlers” in 1911 because it had been bought by William Hepburn Russell. (And it was known as the Doves after that when it was owned by Dovey.) The Pittsburgh Alleghenies became the Pirates when they “pirated” a player from another team.