St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns
The Cardinals got their name from the color on their uniforms at the turn of the 20th century, and NOT by the bird! As a matter of fact, the famous "Birds on the Bat" logo wasn't even added to the Cardinals uniforms until sometime in the 1920s. That is when the first connection was made between the team's nickname and the bird happened. For the past 90 years or so, the two have been unseparable. Below is a piece about the origin of the team nickname, "Cardinals" and a bit about the American League franchise, the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles, and formerly the Milwaukee Brewers in the first AL season of 1901). This information is from page 11 of the book Cardinals Journal, by John Snyder.
What is a Cardinal?
For purposes of simplicity, St. Louis's National League baseball team is called the "Cardinals" throughout this book. A fan of the the club prior to 1900 would have been confused by the name "Cardinals," however, because it wasn't until that year that the nickname was coined. Prior to 1900, the Cardinals were known as the Browns or Perfectos. The franchise was called the Browns from the time it joined the American Association in 1882 until the end of the 1898 season.
Frank and Stanley Robison, a pair of brothers from Cleveland, bought the club from controversial owner Chris von der Ahe just prior to the 1899 season. Looking for a fresh start, the Robisons changed the predominate color on the club's uniforms from brown to vivid red. Local sportswriters in 1899 began referring to the club as the Perfectos.
According to legend, Willie McHale, a reporter for the St. Louis Republic, overheard a female fan remark, "What a lovely shade of cardinal" after gathering a look at the club's red uniforms just after the start of the 1900 season. McHale began using the nickname "Cardinals" to describe the ball club. Other newspapermen in St. Louis followed suit.
That the nickname originated in a newspaper was typical of the period. Many of the famous nicknames in baseball, such as Cubs, Reds, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, Braves, Pirates, Indians, Tigers and Orioles, were created not by the clubs themselves but by enterprising sportswriters. The editors and authors of many baseball histories have attempted retroactively to attach a single nickname to clubs from the 19th and 20th centuries, when in fact many of these nicknames were seldom used. Clubs of the period often were called the name of the city instead of a nickname, for instance, the "Chicagos," the "New Yorks," the "Bostons" or the "Pittsburghs".
The Browns, the name the Cardinals originally used, gained new life in 1902 when the American League moved the Milwaukee Franchise to St. Louis and called it the Browns. Befitting the name, players wore uniforms trimmed in brown. Orange was added about a decade later. The St. Louis Browns existed until 1953, when the team moved to Baltimore and was renamed the Orioles.
"It ain't braggin' if you can do it!" Dizzy Dean