Top 50 Most Bizarre Team Names in Sports
Hartford, Connecticut has a new baseball team, everyone. Apparently the New Britain Rock Cats weren't good enough for the Colorado Rockies farm system, and they decided to move a little down Route 9 and rename themselves the Hartford Yard Goats. The Yard Goats. Literally the strangest, least fear-instilling team name in sports.
Well... not exactly. In celebration of the Yard Goats' impending home opener, whenever that may be, we're taking a look at 50 of the weirdest, most bizarre team names in sports.
This list includes everything from high school to the pros, ranging across many different sports. The only criteria (especially for high school and colleges) is: if the team name is official as represented by a governing body (you'd be surprised what's not official), and if they play a sport, the name qualifies.
Also, this is my first list in, like, four months! It's good to be back!
Akron Zips (NCAA, Division I)
This animal to the right is Zippy the Kangaroo. But that's not why the Zips are called the Zips. In the 1920s, the University of Akron held a contest to determine a new mascot. The name "Zips" was created in reference to Zippers, an overshoe made at the time by the BF Goodrich Company. To date, the Zips men's soccer team is quite successful, making NCAA tournament appearances 17 times in the last 22 years, winning the National Championship in 2010.
Arkansas School for the Deaf Leopards (High School, Arkansas)
No bio for this one. It’s not even all that weird or unusual. It’s just a matter of a well placed mascot and it’s ridiculously awesome and I love it.
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Nippon Pro Baseball)
So, at first glance, this team looks like it’s called the Ham Fighters, which would be incredible. However, it’s not to be. Nippon-Ham is actually a metro region of Japan, making this team the fighters. A lot more lame; a team called the Ham Fighters would have been amazing.
Rhode Island School of Design Nads (Unsanctioned)
Okay, so I kind of cheated here a little bit. RISD is what it says it is- an art school- and one of the most prestigious in the entire country. And like their prestige, their team name and mascot are among the best, if not the best in this entire list. RISD plays no sanctioned sports, however, only club sports, which is why they’re technically out of contention. The name “Nads” is ridiculously funny. It’s even better to know that the school’s club basketball team is known as the Balls. And then the mascot. His name is Scrotie. RISD’s mascot is a penis. Look it up. You’re welcome.
The Top 50:
50. Utah Jazz (NBA)
We begin in Salt Lake City. Oh, the Utah Jazz, a horribly out of place team name. Originally, the Jazz were from New Orleans, and aptly named the New Orleans Jazz, which makes a lot more sense. However, in 1979 the NBA decided they wanted a team in Salt Lake City, and the Jazz picked up and moved, without ever bothering to change the name. With only two conference titles since their inception in 1974, perhaps a change in name might do this club some good.
49. Evansville Purple Aces (NCAA, Division I)
The University of Evansville Purple Aces are members of the Missouri Valley Conference, with 14 varsity teams, and a basketball squad with exactly 5 NCAA Tournament Appearances (the most recent coming in 1999, where they lost by 21 points to Kansas in the first round).What I don’t understand is, why do the Aces have to be Purple? It’s kind of unnecessary, don’t you think?
48. Toledo Mud Hens (Minor League Baseball)
The Mud Hens are the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. You will find on this list that many team owners decide to try to spice up their team names, especially if it is an animal. You will also find that it will blow up in their faces. There’s not much that’s threatening about the name “Mud Hens,” much less “Mud Anything.” However, the tie in to the native American coots (the actual “mud hens”) that roam the swamps around Toledo is a nice reference. Look at it this way: it could be worse. When the club was founded in 1896, they were known as the Toledo Swamp Angels. Yuck.
47. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (NCAA, Division I)
The logo doesn’t show it, but it’s all in the name, is it not? The Warriors are a fairly basic team name, to say the least. But throwing a little Hawaiian rainbow in there really represents the culture on the island of Oahu. The Rainbow Warriors don’t really have much to offer athletically, having only 26 bowl appearances since 1935, and 5 NCAA Tournament appearances.
46. New Braunfels (TX) Unicorns (High School)
Located in central Texas, the New Braunfels High School Unicorns boast a fairly respectable school athletic history, with a gratuitous amount of team tennis titles. Props to this little public school for their team name, their mascot (Buford the Unicorn) and an amazing motto: “Unicorn Pride is Justified.” Unicorns may not be real, but we believe in you guys.
45. Stetson Hatters (NCAA, Division I-AA)
Stetson University’s (located about 35 miles northeast or Orlando, Florida) sports teams are called the Hatters- as in Mad Hatters. Hey, at least they aren’t called the Jabberwocks. This is a school with a moderately satisfying team name, but a detestable team logo. Come up with something a little more colorful and more Louis Carroll-y, Stetson! I guess I can’t really judge, both Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber both went to school here.
44. Brevard County Manatees (Minor League Baseball)
These adorable creatures are the class A-Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. What’s weird about this one is, before even the nickname, is the location of the team. You don’t see many of these broad-area-covering location names, like the New England Patriots or the Golden State Warriors. The team plays in Vera, Florida (the eastern part of the state, about halfway down). Finally, the nickname. I actually can’t get over how adorable the logo is, so I’ll give props to the team for having a sea cow as its mascot, something you don’t see every day.
43. Youngstown State Penguins (NCAA, Division I)
The Penguins really go all in on the arctic theme, even though they play in Ohio. Their stadium is even called the “Ice Palace.” Believe it or not, lots of cool things came out of Youngstown State. Players like Ron Jaworski, Cliff Stoudt, current MSU coach Mike Dantoni, and former Ohio State great Jim Tressel, who led the Penguins to four NCAA FCS championships in the late 80s and 90s. Also, little known fact, the penalty flag originated at Youngstown State.
42. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Minor League Baseball)
Originally this team was an honorable mention on this list. IronPigs is a semi-tough, fairly intimidating nickname, and their parent club, the Philadelphia Phillies are a respectable franchise with a long history. The team name even comes from a nickname for steel workers, for which the Lehigh Valley is well known. Then, I did a little research and found some of the Iron Pigs’ uniforms. The team has a bacon-inspired uniform. Bacon. Inspired. On the hat is not the main logo seen here, but an animated strip of bacon in the team’s colors. The uniform sports the name “Pigs” in classic baseball script, with the underline as- you guessed it- a strip of bacon. One may call it bizarre, I call it awesome.
41. Poca Dots (High School, West Virginia)
Oh COME on. The Poca Dots? Really? REALLY? This definitely wasn’t planned insanely well, wasn’t it? Reportedly, the Dot mascot came about in 1928, when the Poca football team was playing during a bad storm, when one reporter exclaimed that the players looked like a bunch of red Polka Dots running around on the field. The name stuck. It’s become so popular, in fact, that ESPN and others have constantly referred to the Dots as being one of the country’s best mascots. It’s certainly a fantastic nickname, but is it the weirdest?
40. University of California- Irvine Anteaters (NCAA Division I)
That’s… that’s an interesting choice of animal, Irvine. The Anteaters stake their claim to fame in volleyball, which has won four National Championships, and water polo, where they’ve won three titles. Their baseball team has been on a journey since their inception in 1970. The team won two College World Series titles, but was eliminated from the athletic program due to budget cuts in 1992. The program was revived in the early 2000s, where the team would reach as high as the #1 team in the nation during the new century. Since then, the team has made two CWS appearances, in 2007 and 2014.
39. St. Bonaventure Bonnies (NCAA, Division I)
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Could you be any more creative with your nickname, guys? The Bonnies, located in Alleghany, New York, once had a bad run in with a former mascot, known as the Bona Fanatic. The student body distaste with the mascot got so bad that the man in the costume was actually assaulted by students at games. For a change of pace, the university went with a much more mundane Bona Wolf. The Bonnies’ main success comes in the form of their basketball team, which has been to the NCAA tournament a number of times.
38. Muhlenberg Mules (NCAA, Division III)
Again, more team mascots taking a syllable out of their name and making it their nickname. The Muhlenberg Mules. How original.
37. Fort Wayne Tincaps (Minor League Baseball)
The Tincaps are the class-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. These iron-clad apple mascots are inspired by Johnny Appleseed, who spent his final days in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is buried in the city as well. The TinCaps won the Midwest League Championship in 2009.
36. Bellows Free Academy Bobwhites (High School, Vermont)
This high school in St. Albans, Vermont goes by the team name the Bobwhites, although there is dispute as to what exactly a bobwhite is. Some claim that it was the school’s first athletic director, the aptly named Bob White. Others claim that it is inspired by the Northern Bobwhite, a quail-like bird native to the United States and Mexico. Either way, the name “Bobwhites” is weird and doesn’t exactly instill fear into the hearts of many opposing teams.
35. Saint Louis Billikens (NCAA, Division I)
The Billikens have a strong basketball record, having won the Atlantic-10 division four times in the last five years. The name, however, is not as strong, being based from a child’s charm doll that was popular in the early 1900s. The name stuck, apparently. Thankfully Saint Louis updated their logo recently (I’m not saying it’s any better than what it was, they just updated it).
34. Columbia College Fighting Koalas (NAIA)
I thought Koalas just slept all the time! Apparently they enjoy fighting from time to time on the campus of Columbia College, located in Columbia, South Carolina. If all the mascots on this list were pitted against each other in a steel cage match, the Fighting Koalas would definitely be my sleeper pick to win.
33. Lansing Lugnuts (Minor League Baseball)
This machinery-inspired team is the class A-affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. There’s not really anything intimidating about a Lugnut, but the team’s got some interesting traditions. Yearly, an exhibition game takes place between the Lugnuts and the Michigan State baseball team takes place, known as the “Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners.” The Lugnuts also have their own theme song (in true Toronto Blue Jays fashion), which is lovingly danced along to by their oversized mascot, Big Lug.
32. Northwest Space Pioneers (High School, Indiana)
This one is just excessive. This school in Indianapolis is one of five making up the regions of the greater Indy area, but it has, by far, the strangest team name. The Space Pioneers get their name from the then-starting U.S. manned space program. Unfortunately, it is not the only space-themed team on this list.
31. Sol C. Johnson Atom Smashers (High School, Georgia)
We’re only at number 31 here? These are really beginning to get absurd. I’m just going to leave this one here. The Atom Smashers. Come ON.
30.Asheville Tourists (Minor League Baseball)
You will learn exactly how ridiculous the Colorado Rockies farm club team names are. These AA-affiliates of said MLB club is peculiar because they’re one of those teams that has their own name in the “home” slot on your typical baseball scoreboard. Keep in mind, in the “home” slot, it says “Tourists,” not “Asheville.” So on a baseball scoreboard, we have the “Visitors” against the “Tourists.” Why not just be the Visitors and confuse everyone in the stands?
29. TCU Horned Frogs (NCAA, Division I)
Kooky mascot or not, the Horned Frogs are nothing to laugh at athletically. The football team has consistently been ranked in the top five in recent years, and placed in numerous BCS games. The new logo isn’t all that bad, either.
28. Webster Gorloks (NCAA, Division III)
When I was in middle school, we used to have a mascot called the Gorlok, who was etched on one of the walls, where I believe it remains today. Webster University chose to remain with this mythical creature and use it for their sports teams.
27. Punahou Buffanblu (High School, Hawaii)
I… I just don’t really have an answer for this one. This is a high school in Hawaii… and I guess the Buffanblu is a play on the phrase “Buff and Blue.” It’s really random. That’s about all I got.
26. Virginia Tech Hokies (NCAA, Division I)
Ah, finally, a team that people have heard of! We’ve all really come to accept the fact that the Hokies are the Hokies, with no qualms about the issue. Apparently the whole idea comes from a name change (from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, thereby known as “V.P.I.”) and a school cheer, which incorporated the new name of the school. The name “Hokie” is completely made up, according to the dude who wrote the spirit cheer. Could be worse. They could still be called the Fighting Gobblers.
25. Watersmeet Nimrods (High School, Michigan)
Hehe… Nimrods. Seriously though, the high school, found on the Minnesota border, on the upper peninsula of Michigan takes its name from Nimrod, the king of Shimar, present in the book of Genesis. He’s a symbol of power, and also Noah’s great-grandson. Pretty cool, once you explain it. Still though. Nimrods.
24. Modesto Nuts (Minor League Baseball)
Another Colorado Rockies affiliate (the Nuts are the class A-advanced affiliate) with a bizarre name. The Nuts are so called because of the vast array of nuts that grow in Modesto, California. Before 2005, the Nuts were under the affiliation of the Oakland Athletics, and were aptly named along with their parent franchise. But they had to change their affiliation, and as a result, their name. To the Nuts. Go nuts, Nuts.
23. Hartford Yard Goats (Minor League Baseball)
These horrendously named farmyard animals are the AA-affiliate of the- guess who- Colorado Rockies! The team moved from nearby New Britain (where they were the much-more-appropriately named Rock Cats) to downtown Hartford, where the name Yard Goats beat out names like Hedgehogs, Praying Mantis, and Whirlybirds (I’m laughing as I write this). They’ve got a theme song. Look it up- it’s hysterical. They’ve got two mascots, a green goat named Chompers and a blue one named Chew Chew. Apparently a “Yard Goat” is a nickname for a train engine, hence Chew Chew (a play on “choo-choo”). I’m still skeptical. Eat it up!
22. Frankfort Hot Dogs (High School, Indiana)
So, disclaimer. The Frankfort Hot Dogs aren’t actually hot dogs. They’re wiener dogs, which, while adorable, still doesn’t help the fact that they are called the hot dogs.
21. Mount Pleasant Kilties (High School, Rhode Island)
I really love this one. It’s just a fantastic mascot. The Kilties. As in, one who wears a kilt. The logo to the right isn’t an official one, but I love it. Good on you, Mount Pleasant, for having possibly the most bold (and by bold, I mean badass) mascot on this list.
20. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology HardRockers (NCAA, Division II)
This is another one of those “a-HA!” team names. And it’s glorious. The HardRockers don’t have much to offer athletically, with their football team’s record being 361-469-35 all time. But still, an amazing nickname for a school no one knew existed.
19. Avon Old Farms Winged Beavers (High School, Connecticut)
This… this just doesn’t make much sense really. Why are the beavers winged? Why would they ever need to fly? They’re semi-aquatic creatures who build dams on rivers for a living. Regardless, this Connecticut boarding school has churned out hockey players like Brian Leetch, Jonathan Quick, and Nick Bonino, to its credit.
18. Mars Area Fighting Planets (High School, Pennsylvania)
Something tells me we wouldn’t want to see two actual planets fighting, but I do get the concept. The Fighting Planets are most notable for their swim team, which has been one of the finest in the state of Pennsylvania for a good amount of time. Their 2012 squad finished second in the state, with only five members on the team. Their 2014 team was even better- breaking every team record but one.
17. Presbyterian Blue Hose (NCAA, Division I-AA)
By far the strangest clothing-related item on this list, the Blue Hose got their name from the socks worn by the football team in the early 1900s. We’ve also got their mascot, Scotty the Scotsman, who doesn’t really have anything to do with wearing blue hose. To date, their most notable alumni is Justin Bethel, a safety for the Arizona Cardinals.
16. Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms (High School, Minnesota)
Now this is a nickname. It’s equal parts bizarre and incredible. Not to mention the mascot looks like some kind of vegetable ready for a fight (we’ll get to that in a minute). This tiny high school in southern Minnesota boasts only about 350 students, but they’ve got a pretty good football team, which won their conference championship in 2010.
15. Cairo Syrupmakers (High School, Georgia)
So apparently, good syrup comes from Georgia, too! The Syrupmakers get their name from the famous production of cane syrup throughout the 20th century (no relation to Karo Syrup, though). Cairo (pronounced (KAY-roh) is literally nicknamed “syrup city.” The high school’s mascot reflects that of a syrup farmer (so, think Purdue Boilermakers or Nebraska Cornhuskers). The school’s football team won the Georgia state championship in 2008 after an undefeated season.
14. Chattanooga Central Purple Pounders (High School, Tennessee)
In the pantheon of cartoonish names, the Purple Pounders sounds a lot like some kind of furry, purple creature that you don’t want to mess with. This team used to be called the Purple Warriors (which is a lot more lame), but during a successful 1930s season, the Warriors “pounded” their opponents, and the name was changed. Not gonna lie, though. They have a great logo.
13. University of Arkansas at Monitcello Boll Weevils (NCAA, Division II)
The Boll Weevil, a small beetle that feeds on cotton plans, is responsible for diversifying the southern U.S.’s economy, due to an infestation that led to the discovery of more cost-effective ways to reduce pesticide use and still cut down the boll weevil population. There’s even a monument dedicated to them in Alabama. It’s also the mascot name for the University of Arkansas at Monticello. So there’s that.
12. Centralia Orphans (High School, Illinois)
This one is near and dear to my heart, being a theatre student. The Orphans are so called due to yet another announcer christening them with a name. During a state basketball tournament, the school was low on funds and was forced to wear non-matching red uniforms from a random pile of clothes. The announcers noted that the Centralia team looked like a bunch of orphans. The name stuck. And it gets better. The name of all the women’s teams? The Annies.
11. Akron Rubberducks (Minor League Baseball)
Rubber duckie, you’re the one; you make baseball lots of fun! There’s nothing intimidating about a rubber duck playing baseball. This Minor League team, the AA-affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, gets its inspiration from Akron’s involvement in the rubber industry (the city is home to companies like Goodyear and Firestone). The Rubberducks’ stadium, Canal Park, is also home to one of the best menus in baseball. Meet the “Three Dog Night.” That’s a hot dog inside a bratwurst inside a kielbasa.
10. Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers (High School, Illinois)
Hoopeston, Illinois is known as the “Sweet Corn Capital of the World.” And their name reflects that passion. To me, the Cornjerkers almost feel like a second-hand version of the Cornhuskers, complete with a humanoid ear of corn as a mascot, who is apparently trying to get his mits on way too many sports at the same time. Fear the Ear!
9. Camas Papermakers (High School, Washington)
Forget everything you know about Syrupmakers and Boilermakers. These are the least badass- the Camas Papermakers. This team was inspired by the team’s founding industry- thanks to the Georgia Pacific paper mill in town. While Camas High School, located in southwestern Washington State, is not the only high school to have the nickname “Papermakers” for their sports teams, they are the only one to feature a humanized paper roller machine, named the Mean Machine, as their mascot.
8. Montgomery Biscuits (Minor League Baseball)
Thank you, Tampa Bay Rays, for this incredible gem. These AA-affiliates also boast some ridiculous mascots. We have Big Mo, an orange beast who loves to eat biscuits, Monty, the anthropomorphic buttermilk biscuit, who appears on the cap and main logo of the team (and star of the documentary “The Story of Monty the Biscuit”- I’m not joking), and Miss Gravy, Duchess of Pork, a miniature pot bellied pig. Truly, truly amazing. Only in Alabama. Roll tide.
7. Kaukauna Galloping Ghosts (High School, Wisconsin)
Again, there are zero reasons why this object should have an action attached to it. Ghosts are just not known for their galloping. According to the school, there are two explanations for the nickname. One came from a Halloween football game in which the team wore all white and trampled over their opponents, a la Galloping Ghosts; the other came from a new football coach’s approach to training the speedy running back core to play like the great Red Grange (whose nickname was the Galloping Ghost).
6. Jordan Beetdiggers (High School, Utah)
This nickname isn’t really threatening to anyone who isn’t a beet. The name comes from the vast fields surrounding the area of the school where sugar beet fields were plentiful. Classes were even cancelled (until the 1950s) for two weeks in October so students could help with the harvest. Their mascot is Digger Dan.
5. UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (NCAA, Division III)
You may or may not have caught John Travolta’s Banana Slugs t-shirt in Pulp Fiction. Who knew they were a real team? The Banana Slugs came about in 1974 from the UCSC soccer team, who were the first to use the nickname. Just when you thought Boll Weevils were bad enough, now we’ve got the Slugs.
4. Freeburg Midgets (High School, Illinois)
Quite possibly the most politically incorrect name on this list comes out of Freeburg, Illinois. The Midgets, whose nickname came from yet another announcer, remarking at how impressive the basketball team was, even though they were all much shorter than their opponents, has come under fire from associations like Little People for America, petitioning them to change their name. For a long time, the Freeburg High School mascot was Marty the Midget. Marty has been decommissioned since the 1960s.
3. Thailand Tobacco Monopoly FC (Thai Division 1 League)
Talk about out of the blue with this one- the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly FC. Sounds oddly suspicious of product placement (perhaps we should ask the New York Red Bulls what they think). Now officially known as TTM Customs FC, the team was relegated to the lowest level within the Thailand Football League in 2015. They have decided to sit out for the 2016 season. But still, this team must be loaded, seeing as they own all the tobacco in Thailand.
2. St. Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectic (NAIA)
Eutectic. We’ve been through Iron Pigs, Yard Goats, Flying Beavers, Blue Hose, and Banana Slugs, and now Eutectic. We’re really getting obscure now. According to various definitions that were very difficult to understand, eutectic is defined as the point where two solids combine to form a liquid. Apparently, they play sports at medical school as well. The STLCOP women’s track team made the national championship as a team, the first time an entire team has done something like that on any level of competition. The basketball team played at an indoor arena affectionately called “The Pillbox,” which was torn down during the spring semester in 2014.
1. Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes (NJCAA)
The Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes actually play in a sanctioned sports league, the National Junior College Athletic Association, and boast 7 sports, including football, basketball, and baseball. But really, a fighting artichoke? Think about it for a minute. These people will have to tell their kids that they were fighting artichokes in college. Not Tigers, Warriors, or Eagles. Fighting. Artichokes. Your mascot was Artie the Artichoke. Shame corner.
But really, I give props to the school for being crazy about their team. Their logo is incredible, as is their merchandise for the school. Go check out their website and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I may or may not be ordering myself a t-shirt from these people sooner rather than later. Go Chokes!
Did I miss any out? Was your high school or college team name awesome or basic? Leave a comment down below!
I enjoy making lists, countdowns, and making sense of the world that I see around me.