Why the Yankees are not called the Highlanders: A fan’s report

There might not be a more recognizable name in professional sports than the New York Yankees. The New York Yankees were originally called the New York Highlanders due to the fact that they played their games at Hilltop Park, which was located on one of the highest elevated areas of New York City.

Because the Highlanders played in the American league they were often referred to as the Americans or Yankees by the local media. The Yanks reference probably evolved out of the local media's lack of desire to have to constantly type out Highlander's when writing about the team.

In April of 1912, The Yankees moved out of Hilltop Park and joined the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. Coinciding with the move the team officially changed their name to the Yankees. I researched the issues extensively but there does not seem to be one singular reason that the ownership of the team at the time decided to adopt the Yankees nickname. The Yankee term was popular in the north among people proud of the terms association with the success of Northern soldiers during the Civil War. There are numerous rumors, but in all likelihood the influence of the press in promoting the game gave them significant access to the owners of the Yankees.

It would not surprise me if a writer at the New York Times pushed the owners to adopt the nickname. In the end, it turns out that Yankees would become a very apt nickname for the franchise that would go on to become one of the most nationally popular sports franchises.

While it might seem sacrilegious to some to even ponder other possible nicknames for the team given the team's New York location there are certainly possibilities for interesting alternatives. I am sure Boston Red Sox fans have some particularly interesting alternatives but very few of these would be appropriate to publish. The Kings, Barrons, Empires, Sluggers all could have possibility fit the team.

However, I feel that the term Yankee has stood the test of time as a very appropriate name for the team. During the 20th century and America's participation in two world wars the term was used by many Europeans, especially the British to refer to Americans in general which fit appropriately with the Yankees ascension as the most recognizable team in America.

The Yankees nickname, the interlocking NY, and the pinstripes all combine to form a legacy that is an integral part of baseball history.

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Updated Thursday, Apr 14, 2011