Naming a sports team after literature—that’s pretty awesome. (The Baltimore Ravens of the NFL are technically; they’re named after an intimidating bird, but the team is specifically named after “The Raven,” the classic, super-spooky poem by Baltimore resident Edgar Allen Poe.) With baseball season coming up, we took it upon ourselves to give every Major League Baseball team a new nickname, based on one of its most famous or prominent literary icons.
Atlanta: Margaret Mitchell
Mitchell wrote just one book, but it was a big one: Gone With the Wind, the seminal Civil War novel and a contender for “Great American Novel.” Also a perennial contender in the National League East: the Atlanta Scarletts, named for one of the most complex characters in American lit.
Miami: Dave Barry
As a longtime columnist with the Miami Herald turned novelist of books set in Miami, Barry has a love/hate relationship with his city, and is very responsible for Miami’s image as a tropical crazy town—he is “not making this up,” after all. Let’s go Miami Daves! (We think he’d find that hilarious.)
Philadelphia: Isaac Asimov
Fun fact about Asimov—he’s predominantly known as a science-fiction writer, but he was so prolific that he’s the only person in history to have a book in every major grouping of the Dewey Decimal System. But still, the brainy sci-fi stuff like I Robot, still influences how we approach technology today, so that’s why we’re going with the Philadelphia Robots.
New York: J.D. Salinger
Of all the many New York based authors, we had to go with one who wrote a book with a baseball word in its title. The author of The Catcher in the Rye, the definitive angry young man novel retreated into privacy in the ‘50s, never the case with the mighty former Mets, renamed after a refrain in Catcher as the New York Phonies.
Washington, D.C.: Tom Clancy
The late bestselling author of the “dad novel”—taut but deliriously exciting military and spy thrillers—unsurprisingly stayed close to the nation’s capital. The Washington Jack Ryans are ready to play some patriot games.
Tampa Bay: Jack Kerouac
Kerouac was of course a bit of a traveling malcontent who spent a lot of his time On the Road, but he spent his later years in and died in south Florida, specifically in the sweltering Tampa metropolitan area. As it’s a paradise and On the Road’s main character is named Sal Paradise, the Rays are now named the Tampa Bay Paradise.
Boston: Louisa May Alcott
An icon of 19th century literature, Alcott helped make American letters a force to be reckoned with. Her most famous works are Little Women and Little Men, either of which would make a fine new name for the Red Sox. Let’s go with the Boston Little Women.
Baltimore: Edgar Allan Poe
The Baltimore Ravens of the NFL are already named after their native son’s most famous poem, but we can do better—the Baltimore Pits, or the Baltimore Pendulums.
New York: Edith Wharton
Nobody stuck it to Gilded Age aristocrats quite like Wharton did in The Age of Innocence, so the most gilded, aristocratic team in baseball, the Yankees, should be named the New York Archers after that novel’s main character, Newland Archer.
Toronto: Margaret Atwood
The great Atwood studied, taught, and lived in Hogtown for years. Seeing as how she’s one of, if not the greatest Canadian novelist of all time, as well as the hottest author in literature right now because of the hit TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, it seems right to renamed the Blue Jays the Toronto Margarets.
Pittsburgh: Michael Chabon
Who else but Chabon has rehabilitated Pittsburgh’s image from smog-choked industrial metropolis to enchanting college town? Many of his novels are set here, such as Wonder Boys. That would be a silly name for a team, but the Pittsburgh Chabons sounds kind of cool.
Chicago: Ernest Hemingway
A manly man so manly he didn’t even use extra words when telling his tales of manly things like war, fishing, and death, he’s the literary pride of Chicagoland. Adding to his list of four rules to be a man: have a son, plant a tree, fight a bull, read a book, get a baseball team named after you: the Chicago Bell-Tollers
St. Louis: Jonathan Franzen
Our nation’s greatest chronicler of the modern American family—and its thoroughly dysfunctional nature—grew up in St. Louis, a fine place to raise to a family and home of the venerable St. Louis, or, as they’re now called, the St. Louis Corrections.
Milwaukee: Jack Finney
If one of your city’s most favorite authors is sci-fi author Jack Finney, how can you not name your team the Milwaukee Body Snatchers?
Cleveland: Dav Pilkey
While the baseball team from Cleveland has announced it will downplay its offensive mascot, maybe it’s time to get rid of the name completely. Name them after the best-known work by Cleveland-born children’s author Dav Pilkey. That would be the Captain Underpants series, so Cleveland Underpants it is. (Or, you know, Captains is fine, too.)
Minneapolis: F. Scott Fitzgerald
The tragic author of perfectly worded Jazz Age classics like The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night brought such an observant eye thanks in part to a middle-class sensibility, no doubt honed over his years in the Twin Cities. The great Jay Gatsby (nay Gatz) was from there, too, and so that’s why we’ve got the Minnesota Gatsbys.
Detroit: Joyce Carol Oates
Oates lived and taught in Motown for many years, and her 1969 National Book Award-winning them is set there, so she gets to have the Tigers renamed the Detroit Mulvaneys after he widely read We Were the Mulvaneys.
Kansas City: Robert A. Heinlein
Born and raised in Kansas City, the “Dean of Science Fiction” writers helped establish the genre as a viable art form with its own tropes and rules in works like Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers. Hey, the Kansas City Starship Troopers sounds amazing!
Chicago: Edgar Rice Burroughs
How is there not already a team called the Chicago Tarzans?
Arizona: Diana Gabaldon
Phoenix’s Gabaldon elevated the romance novel and historical fiction genres with her extremely compelling Outlander series. While the desert sun of Phoenix doesn’t remind anyone of the Scottish Highlands, calling a baseball team the Arizona Outlanders would.
Los Angeles: Raymond Chandler
When you think “hardboiled detective noir” you think of Raymond Chandler, master crafter of L.A.-based stuff like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. The hero of many of those books is the great detective Philip Marlowe, who gives his name to the Los Angeles Marlowes.
San Francisco: Jack London
Launching off from San Francisco, the unofficial capital of West Coast wilderness adventure, Jack London wrote gritty, realistic tales of the wilderness and the ocean, like The Call of the Wild and the namesake for the newly renamed San Francisco Sea-Wolves.
San Diego: Dr. Seuss
He was born somewhere else, that much is true, but he lived in La Jolla, der-flibbity-floo. He’s the first author we know, he helped teach us to read, so the San Diego Cat-Hats is something we need.
Colorado: Bill Finger
Comics and graphic novels wouldn’t be what they are today without Finger, the Mile High City native who, with Bob Kane of D.C. Comics, helped create Batman and the Batman mythos. Rights issues might be a thing, but the Colorado Dark Knights would be the best-named team in all of sports.
Oakland: Amy Tan
How many modern classics has Tan even written anyway? There’s The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Valley of Amazement…Nobody writes about mothers and daughters with more skill, and she’s probably the best writer Oakland ever gave us, so it makes sense to name the team after her most famous book in full, the Oakland Joy Luck Club.
Anaheim: Dean Koontz
After Disneyland and The O.C. the most famous product of Orange County is Koontz, SoCal transplant and author of countless page-turning suspense-filled thrillers of the last 40-odd years. The team gets its name from one of his books: the Los Angeles Sole Survivors of Anaheim.
Seattle: Tom Robbins
King of the quirky, dusty comic novel, Robbins’ home town Mariners shall henceforth be called the Seattle Thumbs, after the pronounced characteristic of the protagonist of his 1976 classic Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
Texas: Patricia Highsmith
The author of the wicked and intense Tom Ripley thrillers (including The Talented Mr. Ripley) along with other mid-century mysteries like Strangers on a Train was born in Fort Worth, right next to Dallas in the “Metroplex.” The Dallas Ripleys has a nice ring to it.
Houston: Donald Barthelme
Barthelme spent most of his life and career in the Houston area, where he taught and worked as a journalist. If you’ve ever taken a short fiction creative writing course, you were probably assigned a clever, humorous Barthelme story or two. But he also wrote all kinds of stuff, even children’s literature, such as his 1972 National Book Award winning The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine. Out with the Astros, and in with the Houston Slightly Irregular Fire Engines.
What do you think of our new team names?