Vintage Teams: Cleveland Naps
Unless you’re over a century old, you’ve never known the Cleveland Indians by any other name. However, if you’ve ever heard a great-grandparent spin some yarn about back in their day, maybe the Cleveland Naps have come up once or twice. From 1903 to 1914, the Ohio-based Major League Baseball franchise rolled with a rather unusual name.
Why did they go by this name for over a decade? Did they even win games? Were there any legends who suited up as a Cleveland Nap? Don’t hit the snooze button! Skip that nap and continue reading to learn more about this unique period in Cleveland’s baseball history.
Where Did They Come From? Where Did They Go?
The Cleveland Naps are still around today – just by an entirely different name! Today, they’re known as the Cleveland Indians. So where did the Naps come from? You can thank Napoleon Lajoie, player-manager for the team. As a star player, his nickname “Naps” was used as the team’s name.
During this period, the Naps never finished higher than second in the league. Their best year was 1908 when they went 90-64-3, but they still finished half a game behind Detroit.
When Lajoie left the team in 1914, the owners had to find a different name. It’s reported team officials and even sports writers partnered together to come up with the name they’ve been called since: the Indians.
What Did Their Logo Look Like?
The Naps logo was similar to the current Indians logo, but instead of a block font “C” it was a cursive “C” in blue. This is because, before being known as the Naps, the team was called the Blues.
Who Were Their Stars?
Right fielder Elmer Flick may have been one of the best players, besides Napoleon Lajoie, to suit up for the Naps. He made his way into the Hall of Fame on the back of great seasons for the Naps, such as 1906. That year, in 157 games, he scored 98 runs. Flick also had a knack for stealing bases and took almost 40 that same year.
In the Naps’ 1913 season, the great “Shoeless” Joe Jackson went on to finish second in MVP voting by recording some incredible batting statistics, batting .373 with 197 hits.
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson in 1913
Not Just a Name
Team names sometimes come from odd places, but Cleveland kept it simple: Just use the name of the baseball prodigy-turned-manager. When fans in Cleveland head to the ballpark today, they’re not going to see the Naps square off against the Red Sox or Yankees.
They only have room in their hearts for the Indians. Show off your love for the Tribe and cheer them into another World Series by outfitting yourself with the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel for any MLB team at Fanatics.