A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 05, 2005
Giants (National League baseball team, now in San Francisco)
The "Giants" nickname has been much disputed through the years. It has been claimed that it was coined by manager Jim Mutrie (1851-1938). A date of June 3, 1885 is often given.

Certainly, the nickname appeared no later than April 14, 1885.


Sports Encyclopedia -- Giants
Played As:
New York Gothams 1883-1885
New York Giants 1885-1957
San Francisco Giants 1958-Present
Nickname:
On June 3, 1885 after a rousing extra-innings victory over Philadelphia, manager Jim Mutrie was so overcome with emotion that he supposedly blurted out a description of his team that immediately became the franchise's new nickname, calling them his Giants.

All Sports: New York Giants
GIANTS One sultry summer's day in 1885, Jim Mutrie, the saber mustached manager of the New York Gothams, was enjoying himself watching his team winning an important game. Mutrie screamed out with affection, "My big fellows, my giants." Many of his players were big fellows, and they came to be Giants. For that was how the nickname Giants came to be. And when the New York team left for San Francisco in 1958, Giants, Mutrie's endearing nickname, went along with it.

MLB.com -- San Francisco Giants
1883 - John B. Day and Jim Mutrie, owners of the American Association's New York Metropolitans, form a National League team called the New York Gothams. On May 1, they play their first game at a field once used for polo matches at 110th Street and Sixth Avenue.

1885 - Jim Mutrie becomes the manager of the Gothams, and he and John Day move some of the star players from the pennant-winning Metropolitans over to the National League franchise. The Gothams become known as the Giants during the season.

1885: The Gothams become Giants
On June 3, after a rousing extra-innings victory over Philadelphia, manager Jim Mutrie was so overcome with emotion that he supposedly blurted out a description of his team that immediately became the franchise's new nickname. He called them his Giants.

Wikipedia: San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California. They play in the Western Division of the National League.

Founded: either 1879 or 1883. The Troy Haymakers (or sometimes Trojans) were expelled from the National League after the 1882 season. New York had been without a club since 1878, when its club had been expelled; John B. Day was awarded the New York franchise, and so bought up the defunct Troy club.
Formerly known as: New York Gothams (1883-1884), New York Giants (1885-1957), moved to San Francisco in 1958.

3 August 1883, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 7:
BASE-BALL.

Two Presidents and Two Ex-Presi-
dents See Yesterday's Game in
Chicago.

The Giants of the New York Team
Obliged to Acknowledge Their
Superiors.

11 April 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 3:
THE MAROONS WIN AGAIN.

13 April 1885, New York World, pg. 8, col. 2:
Keefe and Esterbrook, who had been released from the Mets a few days before their departure, April 2, were signed to play with the Maroons.

14 April 1885, New York World, pg. 3, col. 3:
Gotham Giants in Jersey.
The New York Leaguers went to Jersey City yesterday and played the Eastern League team of that place. Mutrie's giants were in good form, but the Jerseys gave them a hard battle. The pleasure of witnessing Keefe's first appearance in the maroon stockings was reserved for the patrons of the Jersey grounds. Keefe was not in his regular position but in right field, where he did that little he was obliged to in a satisfactory manner. The new nickname of the League representatives of this city is quite expressive as that of "ponies," by which Mutrie's old friends, the Mets, are known. Giants though they are, however, they found difficulty in hitting Hughes's delivery safe, and made only eight base hits, while Dorgan was hit safely six times. The score by innings and summary follows:

17 April 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 5:
The New Yorks Score an Easy Victory--

18 April 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 8:
NEW YORKS AGAIN VICTORS.

21 April 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 5:
NEW YORK'S GIANTS WIN.

22 April 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 3:
THE LEAGUERS WIN AGAIN.

LA84 Foundation Digital Library
22 April 1885, The Sporting Life, "The Chicago Club," pg. 4, col. 3:
Corcoran pitched for the giants.
(Chicago's team, led by Cap Anson. -- ed.)

23 April 1885, New York World, pg. 3, col. 5:
NEW YORKERS WIN AGAIN.

25 April 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 5:
The New York Leaguers
Surprise the Nationals in Washington

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
26 April 1885, New York World, pg. 7, col. 3:
Heavy Batting by New York Giants.

3 May 1885, New York World, pg. 7, col. 3:
THE NEW YORK GIANTS WIN.

5 May 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 5:
NEW YORK'S GIANTS WHIP THE PROVI-
DENCE GRAYS.

6 May 1885, New York World, pg. 3, col. 5:
A DEFEAT FOR THE GIANTS.

LA84 Foundation Digital Library
6 May 1885, The Sporting Life, pg. 7, col. 5:
NEWARK, N. J. notes: -- (...) For the fifth time in three years and the second this season we were unable to play Boston, as they brought the rain with them and left enough to spoil the game with the New Yorks on the 29th. On the 30th we met the "Giants" and were beaten by errors of our own, and for which there was no reasonable excuse.

7 May 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 3:
NEW YORK WINS AGAIN.
THE GIANTS EASILY DEFEAT THE BOSTON
PLAYERS.


8 May 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 5:
Mutrie is the Bone of Contention - He will Man-
age the Giants, Although Expelled by the
American Association - Rain Prevents Games
Schedule for Yesterday.


12 May 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 5:
NEW YORK'S GIANTS LEAD.

13 May 1885, New York World, pg. 3, col. 4:
A DEFEAT FOR THE GIANTS.

15 May 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 4:
THE METROPOLITAN GIANTS DEFEAT
THE DETROIT LEAGUERS.


15 May 1885, Washington (DC) Post, "The National Game," pg. 1, col. 8:
NEW YORK, May 14. -- Detroit presented the Giants with a game this afternoon, making thirteen errors and only four base hits.

16 May 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 4:
THE GIANTS IN THE LEAD.

17 May 1885, New York World. pg. 6, col. 1:
THE GIANTS WIN EASILY.

18 May 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 4:
THE GIANTS TO THE FORK.

20 May 1885, New York World, pg. 2, col. 3:
NEW YORK WINS AGAIN.
THE GIANTS TAKE DETROIT'S VISITORS
INTO CAMP.


23 May 1885, New York World, pg. 6, col. 5:
A VICTORY FOR THE GIANTS.

24 May 1885, New York World, pg. 7, col. 1:
THE GIANTS WIN AGAIN.

26 May 1885, New York Mail and Express, "THE NEW YORKS IN THE FIELD," pg. 3, col. 4:
The first meeting between the Phillies and New Yorks takes place in this city on June 2, and will be watched with great interest, as everybody, in both this city and Philadelphia, will be anxious to see how the club from the City of Brotherly Love will hold out against the New York giants.

28 May 1885, New York Herald, pg. 5, col. 4:
The New Yorks fairly wiped up the Polo Ground with the Buffaloes yesterday, to the great enjoyment of their many admirers. The giant batters went at Galvin in such a vigorous manner that they pounded him all over the field and got the rest of the Buffalo players rattled so badly that they were unable to play in their usually fine style.

3 June 1885, New York Daily Tribune, pg. 2, col. 3:
The New-York League club was defeated by the Philadelphia nine at the Polo Grounds yesterday, not through brilliant playing on the part of the visitors, but through the wretched work of the home club. Daily pitched for the Philadelphia nine with such effect that the so-called local giants could only knock little "pop up" flies, which the basemen or fielders easily captured.

10 June 1885, Sporting Life (Philadelphia), pg. 3, col. 2:
Games Played June 1.
PHILADELPHIA VS. NEW YORK at Philadelphia June 1.
(...)
Ferguson was effective and kept the "giants" down to six singles, and two of them were scratches.

10 June 1885, Sporting Life, pg. 4, col. 5:
It is getting to be almost sickening to read the morning papers and see how the "Giants" are lauded to the skies, win or lose.
(...)
It would be well, perhaps, for the good of the game hereabouts to muzzle this fresh young person, for if he keeps on telling people in the columns of the paper he misrepresents every time the "Giants" get beaten the umpire robbed them of the game, he will some day find out that a grand rumpus will result, and he will be hunting for some place to hide.
(...)
If the "Giants" can't whip Harry Wright's juveniles (Philadelphia--ed.), what are we to expect when they get a few hundred miles from home.

18 June 1885, New York Times, pg. 2:
The Giants scored in five of the nine innings.

14 July 1885, Washington Post, pg. 3:
NEW YORK, July 13. - The Giants lost a game to the champions to-day by loose fielding at a critical stage, the visitors winning in one inning.

17 July 1885, Boston Daily Globe, pg. 2:
MY, MY! WALLOPING YORK

First Victory for Boston
Over Mutrie's Giants.

21 August 1910, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), "Nicknames of the Big League Teams," sports sec. sec. 3), pg. 3, col. 2:
The New York Nationals were dubbed the "Giants" by the late P. Jay Donhue, who was the sporting editor of the New York World, in the summer of 1885, when that team was making a strenuous fight against the Chicago team for the championship. It was their deeds, and not their stature, as many rooters think, that was responsible for the name.

22 February 1936, New York Times, pg. 11:
Nickname of "Giants."

Doyle Has Clipping Which Says
It Was Originated by Tiernan.

To Sports Editor of The New York Times:
In discussing Mike Tiernan the other night I looked up a clipping which included a statement by George Moreland that Tiernan was responsible for the origin of "Giants" as the appellation of the New York National League Club. The clipping explains the incident as follows:

"It happened that a new member, Mike Tiernan, had just joined the team (April, 1885). The latter remarked to Mutrie, 'Say, boss, you certainly have a bunch of giants on your club.' From that time the New York team was referred to as 'The Giants.'"
JOHN T. DOYLE.
New York, Feb. 10, 1936.

Editorial Note: Horace C. Stoneham, president of the New York club, gives a different version of the origin of "Giants" as a nickname. He states that in 1883, after the team had returned from a successful road trip, a group of fans, including De Wolf Hopper and Digby Bell, told Manager James Mutrie that his boys had played "like giants," to which Mutrie replied, "My boys are not only giants in stature but in baseball ability."

29 February 1936, New York Times, pg. 21:
ANOTHER "GIANTS" VERSION

Mutrie Coined Nickname in 1888,
Says Reporter of That Era.

To Sports Editor of The New York Times:
As there seems to be some question as to how the New York baseball Giants were named Giants, it might be wise to look at the record, as Al smith would say, in order to clear up once and for all any doubts that any modern fan may hold about the matter. Certainly there can be no more convincing evidence than that which comes from Jim Mutrie, who, with the financial aid of John B. Day, put New York on the big league map.

As one who knew both Day and Mutrie in those early days and who covered National League baseball for the old New York Sun through the war with the Players' League in 1890, and as one who later as sports editor of The New York Recorder was barred from the Polo Grounds, together with Charles Dryden and Sam Crane, by Andrew Freedman for criticizing Freedman's handling of the Giants, I think I may modestly claim to know something of how the Giants were so named. Modesty also keeps me from signing my name. All that can be said is that Bob Curtis is the only one of the barred trio now living.

The Giants were first called Giants by Mutrie in 1888, when they won their first National League championship. How it was done is correctly stated by Daniel M. Daniel, former chairman of the Baseball Writers Association, in his history of the Giants which he prepared for The New York Telegram in 1931. In the issue of Feb. 10 of that year Daniel graphically describes an interview he had with Mutrie, as follows:

"It wasn't until 1888 that the Giants were known as such, and to Mutrie they owe that picturesque name. For five years the team had been called merely the New Yorks. In this day they might have been dubbed the Black Sox, for black was their official color.

"Sitting in the press box at the Polo Grounds several years ago, Mutrie told the writer how he had christened the Giants.

"'They were big men, those players of ours back in '88,' smiled Jeems. 'We had the hitters and the fielders, great pitching, the best catching the game has ever seen - and I mean that Buck Ewing was the king of them all.

"'We already had adopted the slogan: We are the people. I had an expression I liked to use from the coaching line. I used to yell: Come, now - three grains of sand! My men knew what that meant - Courage! Fight! Spirit!

"'One afternoon I shouted: "You are giants in size; you ought to be giants in playing strength. Come on, you Giants!"'

"It must have been an inspired moment. The fans took up the cry, 'Come on, you Giants!' The newspapers picked it up. The club from then on was known as the Giants."
OLD-TIMER.
Little Neck, L. I., Feb. 27, 1936.

25 January 1938, New York TImes, pg. 21:
MUTRIE, ORGANIZER
OF THE N. Y. GIANTS

"Smilin' Jeems," Who Founded
and Named Team in 1883,
Is Stricken at 86
(...)
James (Smilin' Jeems) Mutrie, the first manager of the New York Giants in 1883, died yesterday at Cancer Institute on Welfare Island at the age of 86.
(...)
Not only did he bring the city its first major league pennant winner and its first world championship, but he gave his club a name that has stuck through the years, "The Giants." Manager of one team, the Metropolitans, in the American Association, he brought down another team from Troy for the National League in 1883.

A Team of Giants

A tall, slender figure himself, his height was augmented by the ever-present tall hat. His new team was composed of big men also. This was commented upon by some one, and he replied: "They're giants on the field as well." Giants they have been, from that day to this.

23 February 1941, New York Times, pg. SM21:
Giants. A chance remark led to the New York Nationals becoming the Giants. In 1888, after the team had returned from a successful road trip, a fan called Manager Jim Mutrie to his box and said: "Mutrie, your boys played like giants." Mutrie replied: "My boys are not only giants in stature, but in baseball ability."

28 April 1952, New York Times, "These Are the Giants" by Arthur Daley, pg. 26:
JIM MUTRIE was an impressive figure of a man. He wore a top hat and a frock coat. A majestic handle-bar mustache added to his grandeur. He sported a cane and rode in hansom cabs. THis was 1855 and Mutrie was the manager of a professional baseball team in the National League which was known as "the New Yorks."

In the heat of one thrilling game Mutrie leaped to his feet and shouted excitedly. His words were to become historic.

"My big fellows!" he screamed. "My giants!"

Thus was one of the catchiest of all sports nicknames born. They were the Giants ever more.

27 February 1955, Los Angeles Times, pg. K28:
TAKE the New York Giants. They were called many things, some of which weren't complimentary, when they came into the National League in 1883. Then along came Jim Mutrie to manage the club in 1885. On his first day out, he looked over the players and blurted: "These blokes are giants." A newspaperman overheard the remark. Thus were the Giants christened.

31 October 1956, Washington Post, pg. D3:
During the days of Jim Mutrie, the Neww York Giants were known as the "Mutuals." The name of "Giants" was a natural one since Mutrie had a team of big men.

2 December 1960, New York Times, "What's in a Name?" by Arthur Daley, pg. 36:
The Big Fellows
Oddly enough, this was the nickname the original New York team had back in the elegant Eighties. But in 1885 the greatest nickname in sports was given to the ball club, almost by accident. During a thrilling rally that season, Manager Jim Mutrie leaped excitedly to his feet.

"My big fellows!" he screamed. "My giants!"

They were to be the New York Giants thereafter until Horace Stoneham decamped to San Francisco with his ball club and took the treasured label with him.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Thursday, May 05, 2005 • Permalink