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10 pro sports teams that never existed (but almost did)

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Florida Flamingos (MLB)

How would you feel about an expansion team's identity taking inspiration from this beautiful bird?


Original Marlins owner Wayne Huizinga considered this name/color before deciding to go with a fishier name and a teal look. This 1993 article says "baseball wasn't ready for pink," but speak for yourself, New York Times.

Hampton Roads Rhinos (NHL)

Because nothing says gracefully gliding around on ice like this:


This was the name of a team Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn wanted to bring to Norfolk, Va., in the late '90s. The proposed logo can be seen at the top of this post. The Hartford Whalers also thought about becoming the Rhinos when they left Connecticut in 1997, but ultimately became the Carolina Hurricanes instead.

Los Angeles Browns (MLB)

The Giants' and Dodgers' moves to California in 1958 altered the landscape of MLB forever, but if St. Louis Browns owner Donald Barnes had had his way, baseball's westward expansion would have come 16 years earlier.

Although details are hazy, SABR discovered that all that stood in the way of the 1942 L.A. Browns was approval at the Winter Meetings on December 9, 1941. Pearl Harbor was bombed two days earlier, the meetings were scrapped, and the Browns were stuck in St. Louis until 1953, when they moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles.

New Jersey Swamp Dragons (NBA)

Remember the Nets' street-savvy, achromatic rebrand from last year?

Go back to 1994, and the team was considering a very different form of identity shift: away from a sporting equipment name, and toward a wetland-dwelling legendary flying reptile. The quintessentially '90s design survives only as rough sketches:

Image via

Oakland Señors (NFL)

The genesis of the Oakland Raiders in 1960 was something of a mad scramble, as the AFL's Oakland franchise was conceptualized at the last minute when the owner of the Los Angeles Chargers threatened to abandon the league if there wasn't another California team. An ownership group was thrown together, headed by Oakland real estate developer Chet Soda.

Soda was well-known for calling people "Señor," and after a name-the-team contest was held, lo and behold, "Señors" was the winner. After several days of ridicule and fraud accusations, Soda relented and gave the team the piratical moniker we know today.

Saskatoon Blues (NHL)

Several Canadian cities have supported NHL teams with intensity disproportionate to their size, but even the most patriotic Canuck would have had doubts about this idea. In 1983, the owners of the St. Louis Blues, the Ralston Purina Company, had a deal in place to sell the team to WHL founder "Wild Bill" Hunter, who would move them to Saskatchewan's largest city. At the time, its metropolitan area population totaled less than 175,000.

The NHL was apprehensive that a team could survive in Toontown and voted the move down, which led to a very messy situation in which Ralston Purina angrily refused to participate in the 1983 NHL Draft. Everything eventually got settled with a new owner, the Blues made the playoffs for 25 seasons in a row, and the Saskatchewan Blues idea existed only briefly in recent years, when the junior league Saskatoon Blades wore these jerseys as a tribute:

Image via

St. Louis Stallions (NFL)

Because Broncos and Colts are not enough horse teams for one league, the Stallions came very close to happening on two occasions. They were a frontrunner to be a 1995 expansion team along with Carolina, but the NFL surprised everyone by going with Jacksonville instead.

Then, the New England Patriots almost moved west and adopted the identity before Robert Kraft bought the team and kept them in Massachusetts. Small quantities of official Stallions gear was produced, which occasionally shows up on eBay, and can also be seen at the Patriots Hall of Fame:

Image via Reddit user meressy

Tampa Bay Nine (MLB)

Prior to the 2008 season, Devil Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was determined to change his team's name. Although he ultimately went with the relatively modest change of "Rays," the shift could have been a lot more dramatic.

Other names like "Bandits," "Dukes" and "Stripes" were considered, but Sternberg's personal favorite was actually the "Nine," a throwback to when journalists would often refer to their city's teams as such. (For instance, as in the "Mudville Nine" in "Casey at the Bat.") It certainly would have been distinctive -- though I'm not sure it would have made much sense for a contemporary AL team that uses the DH (and thus has more than nine players in a game at once).

Toronto T-Rex (NBA)

After Toronto was awarded an expansion franchise in 1993, a nationwide contest to name the team was conducted, with the 10 finalists including names that would later be used by other teams like "Bobcats" and "Grizzlies" as well as more curious possibilities like "Hogs" and "Tarantulas." Also considered were not one but two dinosaurian monikers: "Raptors," and "T-Rex." Now, usually even a pack of raptors can't defeat a tyrannosaurus:

But in this case, T-Rex had some things going against it. Raptors' nimbleness makes more sense for the hardwood than tyrannosaurus' lumbering gait, and their underdeveloped arms would severely hamper their low-post game. Toronto went for the Raptors, and the rest is history.

Utah Rockies (ABA/NBA)

Despite having future Hall of Famer Moses Malone on the roster, the Spirits of St. Louis were not one of the more successful ABA teams. They had planned to move to Salt Lake City and become the Utah Rockies in 1976, but were not chosen as one of the four teams to ditch the red-white-and-blue ball for the orange one.

But it's amazing to think how many things would have been different if they had been. The New Orleans Jazz would not have moved to Utah, and the Charlotte Hornets might not have moved to New Orleans, and the Charlotte Bobcats might never have existed. The Colorado Rockies (not to mention the NHL's short-lived Colorado Rockies, which also began play in '76) would probably have been called something else. And, NBA owners would be a lot happier. Why? Because they wouldn't have had to pay over $250 million in TV money to the Spirits' former owners, who negotiated possibly the greatest deal in the history of sports as part of their agreement to fold the team.