Some sports franchises have a team nickname that phonetically just fits with the city they play in. Others just find an animal in the area the same way a street will be named after the kind of trees bulldozed to build up some houses. Then there are clubs like the New York Mets whose nickname we all know well. It also happens to be one of those nicknames that is a nickname, too.
The origin story isn’t exactly filled with mystery or intrigue. Short for Metropolitans, it’s a nod to an old team from the American Association that played in New York from 1880-1887. They were paying homage to the history of New York baseball—something the Mets even did when they chose to wear blue and orange to have a little piece of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.
Metropolitans was shorted to Mets for brevity and because ink on newspapers cost a whole lot more money than a character in a blog headline. We are appreciative of it nonetheless because typing out Metropolitans often would probably increase our odds of getting carpal tunnel.
The Mets could have had a few different nicknames
The Seattle Kraken is the newest major franchise in the four major sports and fans seem pretty split as to whether they like it or not. It’s a little unique and modern even if it is a reference to Ancient Greece. Mets management, unnamed at the time, wouldn’t go back to a super bygone era to find their team’s nickname. Instead, they had a variety of nicknames to choose from before settling on the Metropolitans one.
Among the choices were the Bees, Burros, Continentals, Skyscrapers, Skyliners, Jets, Empires, Islanders, and Meadowlarks. The Jets and Islanders would eventually come to New York with a football team for the former and a hockey team for the latter.
Joan Payson had an admitted preference for the nickname Meadowlarks which may have aged quickly. I understand there are a lot of bird teams out there. A meadowlark, however, comes across far less threatening and a little aloof. It would have fit perfectly with the Mets until 1969.
Fortunately, it seems they picked a winner. The Mets haven’t waivered from the original nickname. They were wise not to threaten people’s fears of the afterlife (Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays) or promote a nickname that was so racially wrong in so many ways as the former Cleveland Guardians had done.
The Mets nickname is short and sweet. A nickname of a nickname, it’s indefinite.