Culture of Hoops

New Orleans Pelicans Are Back


News has hit the inter-webs that the New Orleans Hornets will be announcing their long rumored new  nickname, the Pelicans, along with the new team logo tomorrow. There has been plenty of talk about just how ridiculous the Pelican name is for an NBA team, come on, really? The New York Knickerbookers isn’t a tad strange, I rest my case.

While many have speculated what the new logo will look like,  to date we have yet to see an official Image released by the NBA or the team. I decided to do a little digging into the history of the Pelicans name to see if we could derive an inkling as to what we are in store for.

The original New Orleans Pelicans were a minor league “professional” baseball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Pelicans were founded in 1887, becoming part of the Southern Association in 1901. Up until 1915, the team played at Pelican Park. From 1915 through 1957, they played home games at Heinemann Park (later known as Pelican Stadium). The franchise was sold to Little Rock at the end of the 1959 season. Unfortunately the Southern Association went belly-up the 1961 season.

The biggest star the Pelicans ever rostered was none other than Shoeless Joe Jackson. In Jackson’s only season with the Pelicans (1910), he slugged his way to a .354 average to win the league batting title while leading the team to the pennant with an 87–53 record. The following year, he would hit .408 with the American League’s Cleveland Naps.

In the mid 1950s, the team was affiliated with the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1957 the team was moved to Columbus OH and became the Jets.

The Pelicans name resurfaced once again during the 1977 season when oil tycoon(I have always wanted to call someone that) A. Ray Smith moved his Triple-A Tulsa Oilers to New Orleans to play in the Super-dome. After a single season, the team then moved to Springfield Illinois, and were renamed the Redbirds.

After that, the Pelicans name was basically in limbo until Tom Benson, owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets obtained the naming rights. On December 4, 2012, it was reported that the Hornets would be changing their nickname to the Pelicans, possibly as early as the 2013–2014 NBA season.

Flash forward a bit to January 23rd 2013 when the official announcement will take place. I for one, will forever remember the day the Pelicans came back home to roost.

There you have it, a brief history lesson on the New Orleans Pelicans. Yes, I know what you all are thinking, it was weird for me to write about something other than basketball. I have to go wash this baseball stink off me now.

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