“Phillies” is perfectly serviceable as a nickname, evoking the team’s home city. However it’s bland enough that both team officials and fans have tried to introduce a new name for the team from time to time.
According to baseball-reference.com, the team that entered the National League in 1883* was known as the Quakers. There’s some debate about that though, and it’s not clear that “Quakers” was used any more than “Phillies”:
First, nicknames were not official monikers used by major league teams until the 20th century. In the 19th century, nicknames were created and used by newspapers. In 1883 alone, the Philadelphia Baseball Club Limited was identified as “Philadelphias”, “Phillies”, “Quakers”, and even “Athletics”.
Regardless, they spent most of their first 60 years of existence as the “Phillies”. After spending the last 25 of those years as one of the poorest and most mismanaged teams in the majors, the Phillies were purchased by businessman R.R.M. “Ruly” Carpenter in 1943. His 28-year-old son Bob became the team president. Bob instituted several changes to improve both the performance of the team, and how it was viewed by the public.
As is sometimes mentioned, especially when the Phillies face the team from Toronto, one of these measures was to change the team’s nickname, and after a fan contest which drew thousands of responses, the name “Blue Jays” was selected in 1944. The new name failed to catch on, and after a few years the idea was officially dropped in January, 1950.
It’s strange that they continued using “Phillies” as well, but whatever the reasons it never caught on, the history of the Blue Jays attempt is fairly well known.
However something that does not get brought up very often, if at all, is that for several years in the early 1910s, the Phillies were often referred to as the “Daisies”.
That may seem strange, there aren’t any current pro sports teams named after plants, never mind that it’s not particularly tough or fearsome for a team engaged in athletic competition.
As far as can be discerned, the name’s association with the Phillies was due to two factors at the time:
- The popularity of the flower known as the Philadelphia fleabane, or daisy fleabane, and often called the Philadelphia daisy. It’s most likely named after the city in large part because Philadelphia was where it was studied and cultivated in the early days of the American colonies.
- The alliteration afforded by the name of the Phillies catcher and player-manager, Charlie “Red” Dooin.
Dooin was the Phillies catcher from 1902 to 1914. In addition to possibly being the first to ever wear shin guards behind the plate, he held the Phils’ franchise record for games caught until Mike Lieberthal finally passed him in 2006.
Starting in 1910, Dooin also became the Phillies’ manager, and sometime after that “Dooin’s Daisies” became a common way to refer to the team.
For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 3, 1913:
Dooin’s Daisies triumphed over the Champion Giants at the Polo grounds this afternoon in the first real triple-header of major league history … It isn’t the first time that three major league games have been played on one day, but the first time three have ever been played for one admission.
Or the New York Times on April 25, 1914:
As far as the Giants were concerned that affair at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon was as cheerful as the croaking of the frogs in the swamp behind the old mill. Besides being beaten by Dooin’s Daisies by a score of 8 to 2, the Giants also made a triple play. As triple plays don’t grow on every bush, this one is going to be mentioned, more or less, as something unusual.
And on a pennant from the early 1910s, the daisies are prominent:
Over the five seasons under Dooin, he would lead the team to an above .500 record (392-370), including a second-place finish in 1913 (12 1⁄2 games behind the Giants).
By the way, in 1914 the minor league Baltimore Orioles were in financial trouble and were shopping around their good young players, including to Connie Mack, before moving on to the Phillies, then under new owner William F. Baker:
When Mack turned down Baltimore’s offer of Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore, Jack Dunn offered them, with shortstop Claud Derrick, to Red Dooin and the Phillies for $19,000. According to Dooin, “Baker nearly exploded when I reported to him that Dunn asked $19,000 for three of the most promising players in the International League. He told me he wouldn’t give $19,000 for the whole International League.”
It’s fun to imagine how many home runs the Babe might have hit in Baker Bowl—if Baker somehow managed to hold on to him—but alas, the Ruth-less Phillies finished sixth in 1914, after which Dooin was fired.
Jack Dunn eventually called the Red Sox, who took him up on his offer.
Even without Dooin as the manager as they were heading into 1915, it appears there was still some recognition of the Daisies nickname. Below is a poster with the schedules of both of the city’s two teams*. We have the familiar white elephant of the A’s above their schedule, and a cluster of daisies above the schedule of the Phillies:
The Phillies/Daisies would go on to win their first National League championship that year, before falling to the Red Sox and Ruth in the World Series.
Even thirty years later, when Bob Carpenter asked fans to pick a new name, several of the suggestions were for “Daisies”.
After leaving his Daisies, Red Dooin went back to playing in the majors as a backup for two more years, and caught his final game in the minors for Reading in 1919, before retiring. Again from his SABR bio:
Dooin retired to Atlantic City, where he owned several properties and had substantial money in the bank, but in 1932 the banks closed and he lost all his cash, forcing him to sell off some of his real estate. Dooin had a rich baritone voice—during his playing days he had performed on the winter vaudeville circuit as a singer and actor in addition to his work as assistant manager of the men’s department of a Philadelphia department store—so he went back to singing, in vaudeville and on the radio.
So there you have it. There was a smattering of Quakers early on and some Blue Jays in the 1940s, but also some Daisies along the way.
And the Phillies all along.