LONDON SERIES Primer: Why are they called the Cardinals?

Just in case you are unsure, the “cardinal” in question is a bird, not a Catholic bishop. Here’s the back story…

Formed in 1882, the team was originally called the Brown Stockings before transitioning into the St Louis Browns, and then, following a woeful 33-111 season, they ambitiously renamed themselves the St Louis Perfectos. 

In 1899, the Perfectos, with the wonderfully named Cupid Childs at second base, went 84-67 in their only season under that guise.

At the turn of the century, they were treated to new red-trimmed uniforms with eye-catching red socks, and the story goes that a newspaper columnist overhead a fan in the stands refer to the uniforms as “a lovely shade of cardinal.” The journalist started calling the team the Cardinals in his column, and it stuck.

Interestingly, according to the great Anne Rogers, “management didn’t start thinking of the name in terms of birds until 1921, when general manager Branch Rickey went to a meeting and came away with a new meaning for the team’s nickname, featuring stencilled and coloured cardinals, each placed on a brown string to represent a twig. The birds on the bat would become the emblem for the team moving forward.”

Right, now, pay attention; this is confusing.

In 1902, the Milwaukee Brewers (not Christian Yelich’s current outfit) moved from Wisconsin to Missouri to become the St Louis Browns, taking over the nickname discarded by the Cardinals. For 50 years, the city had two top-level baseball teams until the Browns relocated to Baltimore in 1954 to become the Orioles. The oriole in question is a bird, not a biscuit.

As a side note, Christian Yelich’s current team joined the league as an expansion team in 1969 called the Seattle Pilots but evolved into the Milwaukee Brewers the following year.

The London Series 2023 will feature the first-ever NL games in Europe when the Chicago Cubs take on the St Louis Cardinals on Saturday 24 June and Sunday 25 June. Check out the Ticketmaster website with tickets starting from £59.00 – make sure you are following @Batflips_nerds for all your London Series content.

Article by @GavTramps. Want to share your baseball opinions with a Bat Flips & Nerds audience of 10,000+? Click on the “Write for uslink above.

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