This Is How The LA Dodgers Got Their Name

Back in 1958, the team that had been known as the Brooklyn Dodgers for nearly a century took the field in their new Southern California home, now as the Los Angeles (or simply LA) Dodgers. As Britannica notes, the move was  heartbreaking to the New York fans, who now had to deal with their beloved team taking up new digs on the West Coast. Nevertheless, team owner Walter O'Malley, taking note of the staggering population growth out west, knew that there was money to be made in Southern California. 

Though the "Dodgers" team name remained after their move from New York to LA, it didn't really apply to the City of Angels as it did to its former home. Its origin story can be traced to a real peril that people the people of Brooklyn had to face on a daily basis in the late 1800s, especially if they were keen to watch a baseball game.

Fans had to dodge trolleys to get to the stadium

Chances are, your mother or schoolteacher taught you the old saying, "Look both ways before you cross the street!" It's sage advice now, but in the mid-to-late 1800s, when Major League Baseball became popular, it wasn't advice at all. That's because, as Gizmodo notes, most of the traffic on the streets of those days was horse-driven, and if you stepped in front of a horse, chances were the animal would stop on his own. When horse-drawn trolleys emerged as a form of mass transit, the vehicles were still pulled by sentient and intelligent animals — but that all changed when the electric trolley was invented. What's more, it was put to use in the section of Brooklyn that the team, then known as the "Atlantics," called home. Indeed, by 1895 the borough was known for its particularly high number of pedestrian fatalities thanks to trollies.

As was the case with the name of the Chicago Cubs, as reported by Major League Baseball, it was the newspaper industry that gave the Brooklyn team the name that stuck for a century. Specifically, in 1865 a Pennsylvania newspaper described the Brooklyn ballplayers as the "Trolley Dodgers" (per Gizmodo), and though somewhat gruesome when viewed through a microscope, the name stuck, and by 1897 the team's management had come to embrace it. When the team moved to LA 60 years later, tradition and inertia kept the name intact, and O'Malley didn't pursue a new name to coincide with the team's new home.