Why Are There Two MLB Teams Named After Socks?

Why Are There Two MLB Teams Named After Socks

Major League Baseball comprises 30 professional baseball teams competing season after season to reach and win the World Series. It may be a surprise to learn that two out of these 30 teams have quite similar names: the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox. Read on to learn the history behind these names and the unique rivalry that goes with them.

History of Names

Both the Red Sox and the White Sox were first associated with the longer moniker “Stockings,” because it was a nod to the uniquely long socks distinctive of baseball uniforms. Interestingly, these two teams are some of the oldest in all professional baseball, the Red Sox established in 1901 and the White Sox in 1894. Between coexisting in the league for so long, sharing a name, and competing fiercely with one another for many seasons, both Sox teams quickly formed an intense and lasting rivalry with one another. 

MLB names often connect the team to the city where they play. For example, the Brewers are  based in the city of Milwaukee, known for its beer breweries. Likewise, the Colorado Rockies are named after the mountain range that runs through the state. However, the name Stockings has persisted as a popular name for multiple organizations throughout the years, with some teams even recycling the same exact names. Even the Cincinnati Reds originally went by the name Red Stockings for a period as well.

Boston Red Sox

Before 1907, Boston went by the name “Americans” in an attempt to distinguish themselves from the now Atlanta Braves, who were then also housed in Boston. 1907 is when Red Sox owner, John Taylor, introduced new uniforms to mark the start of a rebranding. Thanks to these new uniforms and their bright red stockings, the Boston Americans became the Boston Red Stockings in 1908. Eventually, the name was shortened to the now-infamous Boston Red Sox.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox name predates Boston’s change to the Red Sox by eight years. In 1900, then White Sox owner, Charles Comisky, purchased the organization, moving them from Iowa to Minnesota. Soon after, the team moved again, this time to Chicago. Much like the Red Sox, the White Sox name did not originate or stay with the same organization over the years. Instead, the name was originally held by the team we now know as the Chicago Cubs. 

After the move to Chicago, Comisky decided to take over the name White Stockings as a marketing move, one of the first moves that would build into a long city rivalry between the teams. Again, similarly to the Red Sox, the Chicago White Stockings name was eventually shortened to the current “White Sox” name.