When the Phillies were nicknamed the Blue Jays

Head to Citizens Bank Park today and you’ll see plenty of fans in powder blue jerseys. Every so often the Philadelphia Phillies will don those fan-favorite throwback uniforms. What fans might not know is that these aren’t the original blue Phillies uniforms. During a forgettable era in Phillies history, they sported white uniforms with royal blue lettering, hats, and socks.

Philadelphia Phillies Blue Jays logo

The Phillies’ upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays holds more history than most know. From 1918 to 1942, the Phillies had just one winning season in which they squeaked out a 78-76 record in 1932. Eleven of those 25 seasons ended with more than 100 losses and 19 of them ended with 90 or more losses. In that span, they finished last in the National League 14 times and only finished higher than sixth place (out of 8 teams) in two seasons. The 1941 and 1942 seasons are still the two worst seasons in franchise history to this day.

After several changes in ownership, Bob Carpenter Jr. bought the team following another 90-loss season in 1943. The club was in desperate need of some type of spark, and Carpenter planned to provide it through a fan contest. Folks from around the Delaware Valley were asked to send in suggestions for a new name for the Phillies. The winner would receive a $100 war bond.

The Phillies received 5,098 letters and 634 names including entries such as Ravens, Unicorns, Bell Ringers, Daisies and Stinkers. Mrs. Elizabeth Crooks’ suggestion of “‘Blue Jays” was the winning entry. She believed that this new name would be the change that this team badly needed. According to the Eugene Guard:

“Mrs. Crooks chose the name, she said, ‘because it reflects a new team spirit. The Blue Jay is colorful in personality and his plumage is a brilliant blue, a color the Phillies could use decoratively and psychologically. His fighting, aggressive spirit never admits defeat.‘”

A logo of a Blue Jay was added above the two L’s in “Phillies” on the jersey as well as on the left sleeve. John Hopkins students did not appreciate the Phillies’ use of their school nickname. The legendary Grantland Rice wrote in the Harrisburg Telegraph that “the Blue Jays belong to Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins is one of our greatest medical and collegiate centers – far more important than the Phillies can ever hope to be, even if they win a pennant and a World Series … they are still the Phillies — and they always will be the Phillies, win, lose or last. And usually last.”

Unfortunately, Rice was correct in his assessment during that time. In the two seasons that the Phillies would use the Blue Jays name, they once again sat at the bottom of the National League. In 1944, they finished 61-92 followed by a 46-108 record in 1945. The Blue Jay was not the answer to the Phillies’ problems.

After confusion and frustration from the fan base, the team removed the Blue Jay from the uniform in 1946. It wasn’t until after that experiment in 1950 that the Phillies would see the light of day and win the National League pennant.

Our friends at Shibe Vintage Sports celebrate the Phillies’ Blue Jays legacy with this exclusive throwback shirt from ’47 Brand. Get 20% off when you use the code: philliesnation

Philadelphia Phillies Blue Jays shirt from Shibe Vintage Sports


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