Here’s a fun bit of sports trivia I ran across in my research. It has absolutely nothing to do with my novel, but the fact has stuck with me just the same. Did you know that the Brooklyn Dodgers (currently the LA Dodgers) were originally named the Trolley Dodgers? Kinda puts a whole new spin on the name, doesn’t it? Here I’d always thought their name was more sports related, unlike some of their comtemporaries whose only distinguishing characteristic (apparently) was the color of their socks.
In my mind, “dodger” implied they were good at dodging around the bases or dodging foul balls. (Of course, that assumption may very well have been based on my own inclination to avoid the ball at all possible costs when engaged in any type of ballgame, and not necessarily on a particular skill inherent to the game of baseball.) But somehow I never figured the object they were dodging was trolleys. Really? How hard could that be?
And then I ran across this video making the rounds on the Internet at that time.
Suddenly, I developed a whole new appreciation for those trolley-dodging ball players. Apparently, trolleys weren’t their only worry. They might dodge a trolley only to find themselves in the path of a galloping horse or a speeding bicycle or maybe even one of those erratic drivers of the new-fangled automobiles. Traffic rules seemed fairly non-existent.
And keep in mind, this video shows San Francisco, a city of around 350,000 people at that time. Though big enough to be ranked the 9th largest American city back then, it could hardly measure up to New York City with its population of over three million. No, these Trolley-Dodgers were from Brooklyn, a borough that boasted a population of more than a million and was serviced by one of the most extensive trolley systems in the nation. I’m thinking trolley dodging in Brooklyn was not a skill to be scoffed at.
Still, I can understand why the trolley part was dropped. For one, it’s a heck of a moniker to be using in cheers. For another, the age of the trolley was fairly short-lived.
But lest you think I’m being a tad critical of these turn-of-the-century team names, keep in mind, my own state’s beloved Cornhuskers were named the Bugeaters around that time. Thank goodness, that name didn’t stick.
How about you? Know of any other unusual team names?