Sunday, January 20, 2019

Best Baseball Players by State I


Hey, three of my favorite things – geography, baseball, and listicles!

One note about methodology … I tried to go with:
  • Players who were actually born in that state (vs. played there, lived there, buried there …)
  • Career WAR (though leading your state in traditional counting stats like homers, hits, wins, and strikeouts helps as well)

Okay, now let’s play ball!


Alabama – Hank Aaron

Willie Mays definitely gave Hammerin’ Hank a run for his money, but it’s pretty hard to argue with the most RBIs, total bases, and extra bases ever. Let’s throw in the most All Star selections, his 98% first-ballot All-Star vote, the fact that the best offensive player in each league gets an award named after Aaron, and I think we got ourselves a winner.

Aaron was born and grew up in Mobile, Alabama’s port and third-largest city. The house he grew up in was moved to the minor league stadium in town, called Hank Aaron Stadium, where the AA Bay Bears play.



Alaska – Curt Schilling

This one was a real run-away. Schilling’s WAR was 79.6, with no other native Alaskan even getting into double figures. Curt also just so happened to get into 6 All Star game and finished second in Cy Young voting 3 times. He also won over 200 games, including a super clutch win in the 2004 World Series with Boston (bloody sock,” anyone?).

Does Curt come from a long line of Inuit? Actually, he does not. So, what was his family doing in Alaska? Well, Curt was just your good old-fashioned military brat. His Dad, Cliff, was a master sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division and just so happened to be stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, right next to Anchorage, Alaska. Curt would subsequently move to Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arizona.



Arizona – Ian Kinsler

So, here’s our first player who’s currently active. His WAR is almost twice as good as the next candidate, pitcher John Denny. As for major awards, Kinsler’s got 4 All Star selections and 2 Golden Gloves. A speed and power threat, he’s got slightly more homers than stolen bases (248 to 241). Most tellingly, he leads all Arizonans in runs, hits, homers, RBIs, and stolen bases.

Kinsler is Arizona born and bred, with Tucson being his hometown. He would lead his high school, Oro Valley, to 2 state championships, then continue at Central Arizona College and then the University of Arizona. Not sticking around, he jumped ship to the University of Missouri, and now makes his home in Dallas (where he played for the Rangers for many years).



Arkansas – Brooks Robinson

I really wanted to put Lou Brock first, but Robinson has got 30-some more WAR points. Needless to say, a lot of that is defensive. The Human Vacuum Cleaner’s got 16 Gold Gloves, along with 15 All Star selections and one MVP. I actually got a chance to watch him in person. He was probably my first real baseball hero.  

Robinson attended Little Rock Senior High, but did not play baseball there, as they did not have a program. Instead, he played football and basketball, getting his baseball licks in in American Legion. He’s in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Boyhood home


California – Ted Williams

Man, so many great stars to choose from – Joe DiMaggio, Tom Seaver, Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson … I’ll have to scratch Bonds (whose WAR is higher) for all those PDEs and go with the Splendid Splinter instead. The Hall of Famer’s got 2 MVPs (and 4 #2 finishes!); was the last guy to hit 400; has best OBP of all time, over 500 homers, and a 344 lifetime average; and was in 17 All Star games …

Teddy Ballgame was born in San Diego, grew up there, and played his first minor league ball in the city. His father was originally from New York, and his mother was Mexican. 


Surprised this hasn’t been turned in to a museum


Colorado – Rich Gossage

Roy Halladay has a little better WAR, but the Goose is in the Hall (and is the only Coloradan there). I’ve also got him down for 9 All Star selections and 3 league leads in saves. Overall, he’s got over 300 of the latter.

Gossage is from Colorado Springs, home of the Air Force Academy and almost half a million people. Goose played high school ball in town, then left in the draft. He would return after retirement, opening a burger restaurant and getting involved in youth sports. The town named a sports complex after him.



Connecticut – Roger Connor

Who, you say? Roger Connor played in the 19th Century, being elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1976. He was an early home run hitter, and held the record for career home runs for 20-some years – before it was broken by some guy named Ruth.

Connor was born, raised, lived, retired, died, and was buried in Waterbury. Largely forgotten, he was originally buried in an unmarked grave. The current one was added by subscription only in 2001.



Delaware – Paul Goldschmidt

Another current player. Interestingly, his WAR is better than anyone else’s – and he’s only played 8 years! A very solid first baseman, both offensively and defensively, he’s finished 2nd in MVP voting twice, been in 6 All Star games, and garnered 3 Gold Gloves and 4 Silver Slugger awards.

Goldy was born in Wilmington, but grew up in Texas. Wilmington is, of course, the First State’s largest city and, because of some rather interesting laws, the headquarters of many major US corporations.

Otherwise, it was going to be this guy (Sadie McMahon, 19th Century pitcher)



DC – Maury Wills

Doc White (an early 20th Century pitcher) has the better WAR, but not many accomplishments beyond that.  Wills, on the other hand, did all sorts of interesting things, mostly involving the stolen base. He’s got almost 600 of the things, was the first to steal 100 in the modern era, and led the league in steals 6 times. He’s also got an MVP to his credit, as well as a couple of Gold Gloves (at shortstop) and 5 All Star selections.

Wills was 3-sport standout at DC’s Cardozo High. Other alums include Marvin Gaye and J. Edgar Hoover. Their ball field was named after Maury in 2003. Interestingly, the Maury Wills Museum is in Fargo, ND, at the minor league ballpark there (Wills managed and was a broadcaster there).



Florida – Steve Carlton

Like in California, you can play baseball year round in the Sunshine State, so it’s not too surprising they’ve got their fair share of Hall of Famers. Steve Carlton, though, leads the bunch. And what that equates to is 4 Cy Young awards, a 24-year major league career, over 300 wins, and over 4000 strikeouts. He is, of course, a Hall of Famer.

Steve is from Miami, where he attended North Miami High, then Miami Dade College, before leaving in the draft. A real outdoorsman and a bit of a loner, Lefty would retire to Colorado instead of the Sunshine State. Somebody on Pinterest tells me this is Steve’s boyhood home:



Georgia – Ty Cobb

Like there was any debate. In addition to being a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, Ty Cobb won the batting title 12 times, finished with the best career average ever (366), stole not quite 900 bases, and even won a triple crown.

The Georgia Peach was born in northeast Georgia, near the South Carolina border, in the tiny town of Narrows. He would grow up in the slightly larger nearby town of Royston. After retirement, Cobb would move out west, returning to Georgia only in his last days. Royston includes his mausoleum, a fairly large museum, a large civic center and housing development named after him, and a state historical marker:



Hawaii – Charlie Hough

Sid Fernandez and Shane Victorino aren’t bad, but the old knuckleballer comes in first. In his 25 years in the majors, Hough won over 200 games and notched over 2000 strikeouts. Similar players include Mickey Lolich, Chuck Finley, and Tim Wakefield. After retirement, he would act as a pitching coach – for both major and minor leagues – for 16 seasons.

Charlie was born in Honolulu, at Tripler Army Medical Center. In other words, he was an Army brat. He would actually grow up in Florida.

Here’s a special callout to Henry “Prince” Oana, the first real native Hawaiian to make a name for himself in organized baseball.  Oana got in a handful of games as a batter for the 1934 Phillies, then pitched for the Tigers for a couple of years during the 40s.



Idaho – Harmon Killebrew

It’s a little surprising such a small state (at least population-wise) should have a Hall of Famer. Harmon Killebrew, however, fits the bill to a tee. I’m talking 23 years in the bigs, almost 600 homers, and 1500-plus RBIs. He was also an All Star selection 13 times, a one-time MVP, and a league leader in homers 6 times and RBIs 3.

Killebrew was born in Payette, a small town right on the border with Oregon, not too far northwest of Boise. A super strong and very athletic farm boy, he would sign with the Senators after a tip from the US Senator for Idaho Herman Welker. After retiring to Scottsdale, AZ, Killebrew would return to Payette only after passing away from cancer in 2011.



Illinois – Rickey Henderson

Though Illinois includes its fair share of Hall of Famers, none comes close to Rickey Henderson. This perfect lead-off man is the all-time leader in runs and SBs, has a career OBP over 400, and finished 3 homers short of 400. He’s also garnered one MVP and 10 All Star selections.

Rickey was born in Chicago, in the back seat of an Oldsmobile, on the way to the hospital. He would move away at age 2, growing up in Oakland, CA. And that’s why this cute shot from there will have to do.

 .
Just in case you can't tell, he's the one in the middle


Indiana – Amos Rusie

He only played 10 years, but boy did Amos Rusie dominate. At the turn of the 19th Century, and playing all but a handful of games for the New York Giants, the “Hoosier Thunderbolt” won 30 or more games 4 years in a row, led the league in strikeouts 6 times, and won the pitching triple crown in 1894. And that’s why he leads 7 fellow Hoosier Hall of Famers (including Max Carey, Sam Thompson, and Chuck Klein) in WAR.

Rusie was born in Mooresville, just southwest of Indianapolis (where his family would relocate while Amos was still young). While in the capital, Rusie would drop out of school, do factory work, and play on semi-pro teams before being discovered by the then-National-League Indianapolis Hoosiers.



Iowa – Cap Anson

With apologies to a guy named Bob Feller, Cap Anson is actually one of the greatest ballplayers ever. In his record 27 consecutive years in the bigs, “Pop” garnered 3435 hits, over 2000 RBIs, and a career average of 344, and was just one shy of 2000 runs.

Anson was born in Marshalltown, which his family settled in 1851, and was the first white child born there (he’s sometimes called Marshalltown’s “first son”). Largely led by the Anson family (3 of them played on a team that won the Iowa state championship), the town would become something of a baseball hot bed. In fact, a minor league team that played in the early 20th Century was nicknamed the Ansons.


Dad gets a statue, but not Cap


Kansas – Walter Johnson

I was talking baseball the other day with some of my millennial co-workers, and was quite amazed that these big baseball fans had never heard of Walter Johnson. I mean, he only pitched for 21 years, notching over 400 wins, 3500 strikeouts, a lifetime ERA of 2.17, and 2 MVP awards. Johnson also holds the all-time record for shutouts, won the triple crown 3 times, was a 30-game winner twice, and led his league in strikeouts 12 times (and wins and ERA 6 times). And all for the lowly Washington Senators of the first half of the 20th Century! 
Finally, “Barney” was one of the original inductees in the Hall of Fame.

Johnson was born on a farm a few miles outside of tiny Humboldt, a little more than 100 miles southwest of Kansas City. He would move with his family to Orange County CA when he turned 14. Though the “Big Train” would later retire in the DC area (where he is buried), Humboldt would acknowledge his birthplace with a stone and plaque.



Louisiana – Mel Ott

Mel Ott was in 11 consecutive All Star game and was the first National Leaguer to hit over 500 home runs (he led the league in homers 6 times). Ott manned right field for the New York Giants for 22 years in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. He was elected to the Hall in 1951. He also led all Louisianans in runs, RBIs, hits, and homers.

Ott was born in Gretna, a suburb of New Orleans. He would return to the New Orleans area after retirement, dying in nearby Bay St. Louis, MS in an automobile accident at age 49.


Gretna honored its high-stepping native son with a sculpture


Maine – George Gore

You know, it’s just too dahn cold up theyuh to be producin’ many bahlplayuhs. And that’s why you’ve probably never heard of George “Piano Legs” Gore.

Gore manned the outfield for 14 years at the end of the 19th Century, mostly for the Cubs and Giants. He finished with an average over 300, 1300-some runs, and a WAR of 40. Some single-game exploits include 7 steals, 5 outfield assists, and 5 extra base hits. Hard to believe, but – though tied – those have never best bested. Finally, Gore also leads all Mainers in runs, hits, and RBIs.

Gore was born in the wonderfully named Saccarappa, now a suburb of Portland. A poor farm boy, he went to his first tryout in bare feet.



Maryland – Babe Ruth

Now, that was an easy one. Just in case you’ve forgotten though, we’re talking about 714 homers, 2200-plus RBIs, and . He still holds the record for career slugging average and OPS. The “Sultan of Swat” is arguably the best baseball layer ever.

Ruth was born in Baltimore, in a room above his father’s bar. It’s pretty close to Camden Yards, and definitely worth a visit if you’re in town for a ballgame.

The “Bambino” would actually spend most of his youth in Baltimore at a reform school, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. They would spot and nourish his talent, then get him signed to the local Orioles, then a minor league team.



Massachusetts – Connie Mack

I’m going to deviate a little here and combine some decent player stats with an incredible managerial record. Not much with the bat, Connie Mack was an excellent catcher. In his 10 years in the majors, he led his league numerous times in stats like putouts, assists, fielding, caught stealing, and double plays.

Needless to say, it was his manager record that got him to Cooperstown. He’s the all-time leader in wins by not quite 1,000.  Managing for a record 50 years undoubtedly helped there. He’s also got 9 pennants and 5 World Series titles. He was inducted into the Hall in 1937, right after the inaugural 5, while he was still managing.

Mack was born in East Brookfield, a tiny town in the middle of the state, and not too far west of Worcester


Another potential museum


Michigan – Charlie Gehringer

I’m a little surprised Charlie Gehringer had the best WAR of all Michigan’s native sons. Truth be told, though, the man was so unassuming, that he could be easily overshadowed. That said, the Hall of Famer certainly was a real rock (and became known as the “Mechanical Man” for his consistency). A 6-time All Star, he also won the MVP award in 1937. It was at second, though, where he really shone. There, he led the league in putouts (3 times), double plays (4), assists (7) and fielding percentage (7 as well). He leads all Michiganders in runs, hits, and RBIs.

Gehringer was born on a farm near the tiny town of Fowlerville, about halfway between Detroit and Lansing. Except for for some minor league seasoning, Gehringer would never leave the Wolverine State.

Interestingly, fellow Michigan native and Hall of Famer John Schmoltz is actually a cousin of Gehringer’s.


Birthplace and boyhood home


Minnesota – Paul Molitor

Boy, this was a hard one. I thought about calling it a tie between Molitor and Dave Winfield, but Molitor does happen to a slightly better WAR. He also led the league in hits 3 times, runs 3 times, and was a 7-time All Star. He also leads all Minnesotans in runs, hots, and stolen bases.

Molitor was born in St. Paul, and attended high school there and then the University of Minnesota. Playing most of his career with Milwaukee, he would head north to play his last few years and then manage.


That M is not for Milwaukee


Mississippi – Dave Parker

Hard to believe, but Mississippi does not have a Hall of Famer. Now, Dave Parker is not the highest in WAR, but those offensive numbers of his are just too glossy. In fact, he leads all Mississippians in RBIs, runs, and hits. He’s also got an MVP award, 3 Golden Gloves, and 7 All Star selections. Add to that two batting titles, and I think we’re good.

The “Cobra” was born in Grenada, in the north central part of the state, and pretty far from anything. Parker grew up, though, in Cincinnati, where his family lived close enough to old Crosley Field that he played pickup games in the stadium’s parking lots.


Sadly, Grenada makes no mention of Parker, even on their Wikipedia page


Missouri – Carl Hubbell

This one was neck-and-neck between Hubbell and 19th-Century hurler Pud Galvin. Hubbell comes ahead by leading his league in wins 3 times, ERA 3, and WHIP 6. The “Meal Ticket” was also a 2-time MVP and 9-time All Star. Over his career, he finished with 253 wins and an ERA under 3.00, at 2.98. Finally, he once set the record by winning 24 straight.

“King Carl” was born in Carthage, in the Ozarks, but would grow up in Meeker OK. And it’s Meeker you’ll have to go to if you want to see the Carl Hubbell Museum



Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hometowns of All the Best Bands

Where do all the great bands come from?

Well, if you look at it from a national perspective, it’s pretty much the US and the UK. Sure, there are some great bands from other English-speaking countries – Canada (The Band), Australia (AC/DC), Ireland (U2) … Heck, there are some from non-English-speaking countries as well – Sweden (ABBA), Germany (Kraftwerk), the Netherlands (Golden Earring), Iceland (the Sugar Cubes) … When it comes down to it, though, it’s pretty much England and America.

But how about within those two countries? 


Methodology

I really didn’t trust myself to name the top bands in both of these countries, so the first thing I did was go to Mr. Google.  Simply typing in “greatest bands of all time” gave me plenty. How convenient.

The next thing to do was to figure out where these bands were from. Once again, that was pretty simple. All I did was consult Mr. Wikipedia as to where the band was formed. Easy!

Finally, all I had to was simply map these onto maps of England and the US. Et voila!



England

Yeah, there are some Scottish bands, I guess (Red Hot Chili Pipers, anyone?) – maybe even some from Wales and Northern Ireland. That said, none of the bands in that Google list were outside Merrie Old England. So, where in particular? Let’s look:


Couple of thoughts:

  • Going in, I knew London would come out first, but I had no idea how much
  • Plenty of bands from the Home Counties as well
  • I’m really surprised Liverpool had only two – though one of those surely should count for more ;^)
  • Let’s hear it for Manchester – only 4 bands but some pretty darn good ones
  • Duran and Duran and ELO were both from Birmingham
  • The real one-offs go to Hull (the Animals) and Blackpool (Jethro Tull)


America

So, Elvis was from Mississippi, Springsteen from New Jersey, Prince from Minnesota, Michael Jackson from Indiana … In other words, the greatest American singers were from all over the place. Was that reflected in bands as well? Let's see ...

NOTE:  I just limited this to rock ’n roll. Sorry, country music fans. Heck, all those would have been out of Nashville or Austin anyway.  ;^)


Some more thoughts:

  • I know LA is the capital of the recording industry, but that’s a lot more than I was thinking
  • Not too surprised by New York, but I was impressed with all the bands that came out of Seattle (though I'm not too sure about Alice in Chains)
  • A little surprised the Bay Area had only 3 (surely, the Jefferson Airplane should be in there, no?) and Boston had only Aerosmith
  • Here’s a tip of the hat to Jacksonville, with 2
  • One-offs include Houston (ZZ Top), Athens GA (R.E.M.), and Ann Arbor MI (The Stooges)


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Oxford, Cambridge, Athens, Heidelberg – College Town USA

So, you’re a brand new state and you need a state university. Well, you’re also gonna need a town for that university too, you know.


As for the university, well that’s simple. It’ll probably just be something along the lines of the “University of [state]” or perhaps “[state] State University” or something like that. Easy.

As for the town? Well, what better name to give it than something that’s already got some academic eclat? And, looking back to our European roots, that gives us stuff like Athens, and Cambridge, and Oxford, and even Heidleberg.


So, what states out there have towns and cities with those names? And which of those have colleges? Here’s what I could find:


NOTE – The ones with asterisks by them have colleges in them.

A few observations:
  • Athens and Oxford seem universally appealing. 
  • Cambridge, for some odd reason, was shunned in the South. Perhaps it was already associated with Cambridge, MA, home of Harvard (and, thus, the dreaded North!).
  • Heidelbergs, though few and far between, are widely dispersed. That probably just goes to show that Germans pretty much settled everywhere.
  • Kentucky is the only state with all four.
  • Virginia and South Carolina surprisingly have none.
  • Both Georgia and Ohio have Athens and Oxfords, and both with colleges in them


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Why So Many Smiths?

Well, it’s an interesting story. Back in the Middle Ages, when people first acquired surnames, most of them – in the West at least – lived in small villages. Now, these villages were generally full of tillers of the earth, sons of toil, agriculturists … farmers. 

There was someone, though, who really stood out. And that was the guy who fixed your plow, made your hoe, fashioned your cooking utensils – even made swords and stuff for the lord of the manor. In other words, he was basically the man. Every village had one, and he was pretty darn important to everyone there.


Yeah, you can take your sons of John (“Johnson,” “Jones”), your guys who lived by the village green (“Green”), your guys who had a darker complexion (“Brown”) … Give me a Smith any day!


A Smith by Any Other Name

Now, here’s the fun part about this … You might already know that Smith is a pretty darn popular name in the English-speaking world ... Its equivalents, though, are also pretty popular in other countries as well. I’m talking about being in the top 3 in countries like Germany, Poland, Italy, and Russia. Wow! Read on …


The Germanic Languages

So, this is us. And, sure enough, Smith is #1 in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 


What comes up when you Google “smith”

The Germanic languages, though, also include German (duh!), as well as Dutch, Flemish, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Here’s how Smith shakes out in those places:


Language Equivalent Rank Notes
German Schmidt 1 Also includes Schmitt, et al.
Dutch Smit 3 Also includes Smits, de Smet …
Flemish de Smet 10
Any Scandinavian Smet 30 in Danish

Why so low in the Scandinavian countries? You’ve got to remember how many patronymics there are there – Johannson, Pedersen, Nillson, Olsen, Larsen …

Surprisingly, that’s exactly what happened in Flemish as well. There, we’ve got Peteers, Janseens, Jacobs, Willes, Martens …


The Celts

Hmm … I don’t recall any Irishmen with names of O’Smith or McSmith. The Gaelic equivalent of that, though – McGowan – actually is fairly common. It’s not exactly Murphy, Kelly, or Sullivan, but it does click in at #5. Now, that number actually includes “Smith” as well. A fair amount of McGowans did, however, take that name.


Rose and friend

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any equivalent in Scotland, Wales, or Cornwall. The Bretons, however, claim the name Goff, which was later taken to England and is known in the eastern part of the country (East Anglia). Think NFL QB Jared.


The Latins

The Latinate languages – i.e., those descended from Latin – are divided into two groups … at least when it comes to Smiths.

In France,  LeFevre (and LeFebvre) comes in 13th and is derived  From the Latin for a  craftsman, faber. All the rest come from the Latin word for iron, ferrum.
Language Equivalent Rank Notes
Italian Ferrari 2
Portuguese Ferreira 3
Catalan Ferrar 31 Jose Ferrar = Joe Smith
Romanian Feraru Closest language to Latin
Spanish Herrara
By the way, Spanish is actually loaded down with patronyms as well - Rodriguez (from Rodrigo), Sanchez (Sancho), Fernandez (Fernando), Lopez (Lope) ...

The Slavs

Interestingly, the Slavs seem to be as fond of this name as anyone out there. Needless to say, it’s not something that most speakers of Germanic and Italianate languages would recognize. It’s amazing how similar they all are. They do, though, all seem to have their own individual endings.
Language Equivalent Rank
Serbian Kovacevich 1
Croat Kovacevich 1
Polish Kowalski 3
Russian Kuznets(ov) 3
Ukranian Kovalenko 4
Bosnian Kovacevich 6
Czech Kovar
Bulgarian Kovachev
Macedonian Kovachev
Lithuanian Kavlaitas
Latvian Kalejs

 
Basically, the same guy


The Finno-Ugrics

Finno-Ugrics? What the …?

Europe can be divided into three basic language – Germanic, Latinate, and Slavic. Finland and Hungary, however, represent two linguistic islands - related to each other, but with no relationship to the languages surrounding them. Both, in fact, date back to the Barbarian invasions. Their nearest current-day relatives are 1200 miles away, in northern Russia.



Interestingly, however, Hungarian chose to go with the very Slavic Kovacs. The Finns, on the other hand, went with the very un-Smith-like Sepp (and Seppanen). Estonia, the only other Finno-Ugric country went with Sepp as well. Both the Hungarian and Finnish versions come in at third overall in their respective countries.


Middle Eastern

Moving out of Europe, Smith extends somewhat into the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Nowhere, though, does it have the same prevalence as in Europe.Here's what I could find:

  • Greek – Sideris
  • Arabic – Haddad
  • Armenian – Tarpinian
  • Turkish – Demirci
  • Persian – Zargar
  • Albanian – Nallbani


Just think of him as Dave Smith

Even more interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any Smiths out there past the Middle East. Not in Africa, not in Asia, not nowhere.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Animals, People, and Things – How Do Sports Mascots Shake Out?

Well, there sure are a lot of tigers, and bulldogs, and eagles out there. And pirates, and knights, and raiders as well. Heck, there’s even jets, and thunder, and athletics, and browns, and hoyas (whatever those are) too.

Ever wonder how they all shake out? Are there more animals than people? Where do things fit in? And how would you actually characterize a devil, or a phillie, or even a little heat?

Let’s take a gander …


Methodology

The most obvious group to look at are, of course, the four major North American sports leagues. And that’s MLB, along with the NFL, NBA, and NHL.

Everyone else seem to play soccer. Unfortunately, they’re really not all that into mascots. Heck, most of the teams are just known as a city name, plus “FC” or “United” or “Athletic” or even just “City.” And if they do have nicknames, they’re never official. Heck, they’ve usually got several. Manchester City, for example, is known as City, the Citizens, and the Sky Blues.

Given soccer’s out, the next most likely group is colleges. As I don’t have all the time in the world, I thought I’d limit them to Division I – in particular the Football Bowl Subdivision. And to keep the number of pro and college teams somewhat equal, I limited it to just bigger conferences – the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and PAC 12. Sorry, Mid-American. Sorry, Golden Hurricane.


Results

Overall, animals do rule (68), followed closely by people (62). Things are definitely in the running (28), but really don’t compare to those first two. 

Undefined are actually not that far behind with 18.  These are things that simply don’t seem to have a real-world equivalent outside the team itself. What, for example, is an astro, or a bill, or a hokie, or an aggie?

The two remaining categories both come in at 6. These include mythic creatures/characters-(titans, devils, angels …) and adjectives (athletic, metropolitan, wild …).

Interestingly, there is quite a bit of difference between the pros and the amateurs. To wit, colleges are just slightly over half animals (perhaps reflecting the average student body):


Professional teams, on the other hand, are a lot more balanced, and with a ton of things (particular colors of socks, various means of transportation, weather phenomena, and much more):



Animals

Like I say, these are the most popular. As for particular leagues, the PAC 12 and the SEC are both close to 2/3’s non-human creatures:


(Wondering who those mythic creatures are? Why, sun devils, of course.)


Overall, though there are more than their fair share of tigers, eagles, bears, wildcats, and so on, we also have some odd birds (ravens, penguins, pelicans), unusual rodents (gophers, beavers), and assorted ducks, dogs, and buffalo.


People

Two leagues are half people, the Big 10 (which actually has 14 teams) and the Big 12 (which only has 10):



And Major League Baseball has almost half (37% to be exact).


Overall, people are a lot more unique than animals. In addition to state-wide demonyms (Tar Heels, Jayhawks, Hoosiers, Sooners), there are also some unique occupations (commodores, boilermakers, cornhuskers), as well as various Native Americans, religious figures, and rebels/patriots


Things

Things are not equally distributed. Only 2 leagues, the NBA and the NHL, account for 78% of all things out there:



Why so many things in those two? My guess is that there are a lot more new teams in those leagues. Why go with fusty old animals or people? Let’s do something different! 

Heck, why bother with those silly old plurals. Let’s go with mass, instead of count, nouns. You know, things like Lightning, Thunder, Heat, Magic, and Jazz.


Balance

So, who does that leave? Well, would you believe there was one pro league (the NFL) and one college one (the ACC) that actually had some real balance? Both were almost equally divided between animals and people (14 to 12 for the NFL, and 6 to 5 for the ACC):





Miscellany

Soccer aside, there are actually two foreign leagues that do a pretty good job with mascots. Interestingly, they’re both based on American sports: the Canadian Football League and the Nippon Baseball League. 

The NBL fits in easily with the overall animal theme:


These include standards such as tigers, bears, lions, and hawks, but oddities such as buffaloes, swallows, and carp.

The CFL, on the other hand, is a little more balanced: