How did the New York Yankees get their name?

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In 1913, the New York Highlanders were officially given their new name, the New York Yankees. However, ever since it began in the city in 1903 when the Baltimore Orioles relocated to New York and changed their name to the Highlanders after the move. The New York media has consistently refused to refer to the group as the Highlanders. Instead, they refer to them as either the Americans or the Invaders. The New York Press gave them the name “Yankees” in 1904 because it was easier to fit “Yanks” into the headline. The name stuck, and the team is still known by that moniker. The name of the team was eventually changed to the Yankees.

Why the name was the New York Highlanders?

Historians seem to agree that the New York Highlanders got their name either from the fact that their field at Hilltop Park stood on one of the highest points on the island of Manhattan (i.e. the highlands) or because of team president Joseph Gordon. While Gordon had his roots in a Scotch-Irish family and a Scottish military unit in the British army is also known as The Gordon Highlanders.

The origin of the name “Yankees”

In 1758, British General James Wolfe was the first person on record to use the word “Yankee.” He was talking about the soldiers from New England who were under his command. During the “Pennamite-Yankee War” of 1769, when people from Connecticut Colony and “Pennamite” settlers from Pennsylvania fought over land titles in Pennsylvania, this word was used by both sides.

Scholars seem to agree that the word comes from the Dutch name Janke, which is a short form of the Dutch name for John. In English, this name would be misspelled “Yanke,” since the Dutch J sounds like an English Y. It may also have come from the Dutch name Kees, which was common in the colonies. Many Dutch people moved to the northeast of the United States, so many historians think that the word “Yankee” originated in the Dutch language.

The British made fun of the word for Dutch people who moved to the American colonies, and it was eventually used to describe people from small towns in New England. The song “Yankee Doodle” was meant to make fun of the locals, but it became a patriotic marching song during the Revolutionary War.

After the colonists won the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the term “Yankee” became a way to show colonists’ pride and defiance toward the British. Soon, “Yankee Doodle,” the first national anthem of the United States and the current state anthem of Connecticut, replaced Yankee pride. When Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” near Fort McHenry, Maryland, troops there sang “Yankee Doodle.”

In June 1917, the first American soldiers who were going to fight with the Allies came to Europe. George M. Cohan wrote “Over There” quickly in their honor to encourage young men to join the army and “tell them over there that the Yanks are coming.”

Do you have anything to add? Let’s know in your comments.

2 thoughts on “How did the New York Yankees get their name?

  1. A minor correction.
    Yankee did not come from the single name “Janke” But the combination of the names Jan and Kees.

  2. You’re correct with the Jan or Yan for the Dutch masculine common name. The “Kees” comes from another very common Dutch name Cornelius. Kees for short. Put those names together and you get “Jankees” or Yankees.

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