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Sports Logos Named After Events in American History

March 16, 2014
Have you ever wondered where team nicknames come from? We are fascinated by them. Sports Logos that have to do with history and folklore are especially fascinating. Today, we are going to fill you in on a few sports names and the history involved. There are thousands to choose from but today, we chose 20 that stood out. 
 
Calgary Flames: With the franchise’s origins in Atlanta, their nickname refers to the burning of Atlanta by General William T. Sherman during the Civil War.
 
Dayton Flyers: The famous Wright Brothers, inventors of the airplane, hailed from Dayton. Short and sweet just like every good airplane flight.
 
James Madison Dukes: Named in honor of University President, Samuel P. Duke, the nickname was requested out of the appreciation for Duke for welcoming veterans of World War II with such open arms at the request of the Veterans Administration. According to the school’s website, James Madison enrolled 39 veterans in 1946 and another 101 the following year.
 
Kansas Jayhawks: A combination of two birds indigenous to the western U.S.? Yes. But that’s not why fans in Lawrence root for the happy-go-lucky blue and red bird. In the mid-1800s a group of pioneers migrating westward called themselves “The Jayhawks,” taking the name from different species of birds they observed along their journey. Traveling to California as a part of the gold rush, the group really has no tie to Kansas. However, years later, abolitionist militias operating in pre-statehood Kansas, according to the University’s website, adopted the name.
 
La Salle Explorers: According to the school’s website, the nickname is associated to the French explorer, Robert de La Salle, who explored regions of the U.S. such as the Great Lakes, Mississippi River Basin, and the Gulf of Mexico, among other discoveries. He claimed the entire Mississippi Basin and what became the Louisiana Territory for France.
 
Massachusetts Minutemen: A minuteman was a member of a militia company from the American Colonial Partisan Militia during the Revolutionary War. They were highly mobile and allowed colonies to provide an immediate response to threats. They played a critical role in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 
 
Mississippi Rebels: This refers to the rebel forces that fought in the American Civil War. We know them know as the Mississippi Bears. 
 
New Orleans Jazz: Historical from a political sense? Eh, not quite. But Jazz music has a global significance and the former NBA team was named in its honor as the birthplace of the genre. 
 
New York Yankees: More culturally significant than historically, a Yankee has several meanings and it depends on where you are to truly decipher which one is being applied. Domestically, it most commonly refers to people from the north that fought for the regions in the Union side of the Civil War. Outside of America, it refers to an American. 
 
North Carolina Tar Heels:  Several legends claim the nickname’s genesis, but one of the more common explanations refers to the Revolutionary War Era. According to legend, British General Cornwallis’ troops were fording the now-known Tar River when they discovered that tar was dumped into the stream to impede the crossing of British soldiers. After crossing the river, a soldier’s foot would be completely black with tar thus, they acquired “Tar Heels.”
 
Oklahoma Sooners: Turn back the clock to when President Abraham Lincoln introduced and signed the Homestead Act of 1862. The act allowed a legal settler to claim 160 acres of public land and those who lived on and improved the claim for five years could receive title. “Boomers” were settlers who favored the opening of unassigned lands in the territory of Oklahoma. Jump ahead to April 22, 1889, and I introduce you to the “Land Run of 1889,” a race for settlers from across the globe to claim their 160 acres from the Oklahoma territory. One of the few rules was that settlers had to start at the same time and those who went early were called, “Sooners.” These people were often allowed early entry legally as deputy marshals, surveyors, or railroad employees, among others. Sooner became synonymous with progressivism, according to the OU website, and was seen as a favorable label.
 
 
Old Dominion Monarchs: This has a tie to the University’s mother institution, William & Mary. The Virginia Colony, Old Dominion, was awarded its name by King Charles II after Virginia’s loyalty to the crown during the English Civil War. Then, William & Mary, whose support helped found William & Mary, ruled England at the invitation of Parliament as “joint monarchs,” thus, both are known as Monarchs.
 
Pennsylvania Quakers: A Quaker is a member of a family of religious movements collectively known as the “Religious Society of Friends.”  When Quakerism, which originated in England, first immigrated to America, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were the only two colonies tolerant of the group so that is where they established stateside. William Penn, who established Pennsylvania in 1682, was a Quaker. 
 
Philadelphia 76ers: I’d say this one is kind of important…The hoops team in the City of Brotherly Love is named after and in honor of those who fought for the independence of the U.S.A. in 1776. 
 
Portland Trail Blazers: A Trail Blazer was someone who helped open up the trails for wagons to travel upon during the famous Oregon Trail, an excursion that introduced millions of people to the American West, which ended in Portland.
 
Robert Morris Colonials: Named in honor of Morris, himself, a Philadelphia native of great wealth during the Revolutionary period, the nickname is drawn from his story. Much of Morris’ wealth was attributed to his business as an importer, which was hit hard by the Stamp Act. Both Morris and his partner chose the side of the objecting Colonials and engaged in the movements against British rule. 
 
San Diego State Aztecs: Homage to the state’s history as one time member of Mexico until stolen away in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War. The Aztecs were a highly developed society in their time. 
 
San Francisco 49ers: One of the NFL’s most successful franchises was named after the California gold miners, specifically those who discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, subsequently beginning the gold rush. 
 
Tennessee Volunteers: While I’m sure the “Volunteer State” has a great track record of traditional community service, it earned its moniker through much more dangerous labor. The nickname was earned during the War of 1812—and, particular the Battle of New Orleans—for the prominent role played by volunteer soldiers from the state of Tennessee.
 
Texas at El Paso Miners: Not nearly as excitingly named as others, “UTEP” was simply named due to its heavy mining community, inspired and advance by the gold mining of the west in the 1800s. While in Texas, many people fail to recognize how “West,” the city truly is. 
 
We at Awesome Sports Logos also feature history in our logos. That’s one of the best aspects of a sports logo is the history having to do with that area. Check them out and if you like a bunch of them, you can always sign up for our T-shirt of the Month Club.
 
Thanks for reading. You will now be one of the smartest people in the room when a conversation about sports logos comes up. 
 
Keep being awesome!
 
Jared Sandler
Awesome Sports Logos Columnist
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