The Arizona Diamondbacks came into baseball in 1998 with a colorful look typical of many of the jerseys of the 90’s. The name was unique as well, symbolic of the Arizona’s desert snakes.
But Diamondbacks was not the only name being considered for Arizona’s new baseball franchise. In 1995, then-owner Jerry Colangelo took out a full-page ad in the Arizona Republic newspaper for a naming contest for Arizona’s future franchise. The winner would get lifetime season tickets for Arizona’s new baseball team.
“Diamondbacks,” was one of the five finalists. The others? “Phoenix,” “Coyotes,” “Rattlers,” and “Scorpions.”
Diamondbacks was eventually chosen, as it probably should have been. The other team names each have their own faults—none more than the Arizona Phoenix. Naming a team the Arizona Phoenix would be like naming a team the Cleveland Ohios: It just does not make sense. You can’t name a team after the place they play.
Rattlers sounds kind of cheesy. It’s a very cartoon-ish name that doesn’t come across as very intimidating. Case in point:
“Now batting for the Rattlers, number 20, Luis Gonzalez.” It sounds like a team in the Springfield Isotopes’ league.
I suppose Coyotes or Scorpions would have been fine since both animals live in the region, and both are fierce predators. But Diamondbacks has a certain unique flow to it, while the other two are very generic-sounding. When the Diamondbacks’ team name was coupled with their original 90’s jerseys, the result was one of the best looks in baseball history.
Several of these names were taken by other teams. The Coyotes, of course, was taken by the NHL’s former Winnipeg Jets when they moved to the desert in 1996. Arizona’s Arena Football League franchise has taken the name “Rattlers” since 1991. Much like the Diamondbacks, the Rattlers were owned by Jerry Colangelo, who had fans vote on a team name.
Speaking of the old-school Diamondbacks, check out an exclusive interview I did with 2001 World Series champion Greg Swindell here.