I'm a sucker for logos and an even bigger sucker for defunct franchises. The two together equal geek heaven for me.
The title is pretty self explanatory. Granted, this is a opinionated piece (and duck, some fictional teams may appear) so I'm sure some of you will disagree. But try to enjoy my multi-league spanning look at cool logos from teams that no longer (or never) existed.
*Note: special thanks must go out to Chris Creamer's Sports Logos for keeping a historical database, including dates and high-quality photos, of every team logo for every major and minor sport. His website is used for educational purposes, and I used his database on Bleacher Report with that purpose.
League: North American Soccer League (NASL)
Achievements: Five NASL championships ('72, '77, '78, '80, '82); 6 National Conference titles ('72, '77, '78, '80, '81, '82); one time runner up in NASL indoor tournament ('84)
Analysis: Soccer, believe it or not, was a fairly big thing in the 1970s, but mainly because the creators of the NASL brought together a Miami Heat-esque super team together (led by Pele) to bring in fans.
Despite this, the NASL was fairly competitive with the Cosmos around but the super team did win its fair share of titles.
The logo is just beautiful, seeming both representative of the 1970s and timeless. Definitely one of the coolest in American sports history.
League: WHA ('72-'79), NHL ('79-'95)
Achievements: 1 WHA championship ('77); 2 WHA Finals appearances ('75, '77), 2 WHA division titles: '75 (Canadian), '77 (East); 2 NHL division titles: '86 (Adams), '95 (Northeast)
Analysis: The team that became (and saw more success as) the Colorado Avalanche used to call Quebec its home.
I always loved the logo for this team. Until I researched it, however, I had no frickin' clue what the hell it was. Apparently it's an igloo holding a hockey stick.
Nordique means "Norse" or "Nordic," so go figure that one out.
League: AFL ('60-'69), NFL ('70-'96)
Active: 1960 to 1996
Achievements: 2 AFL championships ('60, '61); 3 AFL title game appearances ('60, '61, '62), 4 AFL East division titles ('60, '61, '62, '67); 4 NFL AFC Central division titles ('80, '90, '91, '93)
Analysis: Always the bridesmaid, the Oilers, sadly, never reached the pinnacle of NFL aspirations until they were in Tennessee, and even then they ended their Super Bowl game in heartbreaking "so close yet so far" fashion.
A powerhouse of the AFL and a continual contender—at least in the regular season—in the NFL, the Oilers also had a righteous team logo.
Active: 1962 to 1964
Analysis: The Colt .45s won 64, 66, and 66 games in the NL before becoming the Astros (not sure why, though it might have something to do with political correctness? I dunno. It WAS Texas and it was the '60s. Was being politically correct even an option back then?).
Either way, the logo is super awesome. Wish it was still around today.
Analysis: The Pilots have lived forever (or in infamy) by being the subject of "Ball Four", the revolutionary baseball book written by then-Judas Jim Bouton.
The Pilots didn't last long, and they didn't even stay in Seattle (they became the Milwaukee Brewers).
Their logo is simultaneously cute and cheesy and, technically, a relic of yesteryear.
Active: 1995 to 2001
Achievements: MLS Supporter's Shield ('96)
Analysis: I knew a guy in college who had a relative that worked for the Mutiny. So even into 2002 and beyond, when the team was no more, he still had all this excess gear he'd wear and, of course, being the Tampa native that I am, give to me.
Needless to say, it all went 'missing'.
The logo is pretty sweet, though I'm not sure what the bat creature on the logo has to do with being a mutineer.
Active: 1997 to 2008
Achievements: 4 WNBA championships ('97, '98, '99, '00); 4 WNBA Eastern Conference titles ('97, '98, '99, '00)
Analysis: Before you rag on me, the first two years of the WNBA were, actually, exciting. Lots of fantastic players and excellent defensive play made sell-out crowds of all genders pleasantly surprised.
But the best team of the era, the Comets, was also the league's undoing as they cruised to win the first four championships, kind of making a product already on notice a bit boring.
But, enough about my knowledge of the WNBA. The logo, loosely based on the Rockets but with its own flavor, is pretty cool in my humble opinion.
League: NBA D-League (affiliate for the San Antonio Spurs)
Achievements: Finished 1st in their conference in '05; 1 D-League Finals appearance ('05)
Analysis: I don't know anything about the D-League but this logo had a dragon on it so I'm down with it.
Achievements: 1 NFL Championship ('28)
Analysis: Not likely an ironic name since trains probably still ran on steam back then. Though a design from the '20s and '30s, this seems almost MLS-esque and ahead of its time.
Active: 1946 to 1950
Achievements: 1 Western Division title ('47), 1 NBA Finals appearance ('47)
Analysis: The Chicago Stags got off to a great start by winning their division in 1947! Then they ceased to exist years later. Oh well. They left us a pretty neat logo.
Analysis: There are many reasons why this is cool. One, it seems to be the only low-key XFL logo (the others are all EXTREME) and two, there was a team in Vegas. Imagine if the league stayed alive. The scandals would be delicious!
League: Arena Football League (AFL)
Analysis: Teams in New England really love to roll some steam, eh? But they love to fold often too. The only successful thing going for this franchise was its logo.
Active: 1970 to 1972 (previously existed, briefly, as the Pittsburgh Pipers)
Analysis: The ABA was filled with rich personalities and superb, superstar play. But a lot of the logos were fairly unimaginative, to my own surprise.
I had to go with my own gut feeling when looking at ABA logos and went with this sweet design.
Active: 1983 to 1985
Analysis: My friend Adam screamed at me to not forget the USFL. So I didn't! And what a smorgasbord of beautiful logos that league had.
In the end, I went with the New Orleans/Portland Breakers.
Active: 1996 to 1999
Analysis: They became the San Jose Earthquakes and went on to so much more success, but as the Clash, they were pretty terrible.
While the Earthquakes design is a little cheap-looking, this Clash design, while also cheap (and very Arena Football-like) at least inspires some fear in the opponent.
Active: 1901 to 1960 (also knows as the Senators throughout)
Achievements: 1 World Series title ('24), 3 American League Pennants ('24, '25, '33)
Analysis: The team now known as the Nationals once was the Expos who were, in turn, NOT known as the Nationals at one point in time.
Confusing? I know. This was an entirely different Washington Nationals (who became the Twins), but unlike the somewhat bland cursive W the current Nationals have, this one pretty much tells you where they're from and what their city's first letter is.
Active: 1967 to 2008
Achievements: 1 NBA championship ('79); 3 Western Conference Titles ('78, '79, '96); 5 Pacific Division titles ('79, '94, '96, '97, '98); 1 Northwest Division title ('05)
Analysis: One of the league's most beloved and successful organizations, Seattle fans are still smarting over seeing the Thunder, the team in Oklahoma that was the Sonics, get to another Western Conference Finals.
Even though the team is gone, those fans can rest assured that they had one of the coolest logos in NBA history.
Active: 1974 to 1976
Analysis: Before they became the Colorado Rockies (not the baseball team) and the New Jersey Devils, Kansas City's NHL franchise was home to the Scouts.
They barely won any games before moving but they had one of the coolest NHL logos in the '70s.
Active: 1970 to 1976
Analysis: The Seals franchise switched cities and names a billion times, but during the six-year period of '70 to '76, California had the GOLDEN Seals...and a righteous logo to go with it.
They became the Cleveland Barons shortly after 1976 and then ceased to exist.
Active: 1975 to 1984
Achievements: 1 NASL title ('75); 3 Atlantic Conference Titles ('75, '78, '79); 5 Eastern Division Titles ('75, '76, '78, '79, '80); 1 NASL indoor title ('80)
Analysis: One of the NASL's most popular teams (my parents still tell me to this day how exciting the games were), they were also very successful.
And what logo better exemplifies rowdy than the unkempt, crazy logo you see above?
Achievements: Failing to get into the NBA.
Analysis: I know they are fictional, but that doesn't make the logo any less awesome.
Achievements: They only played one game and lost 10-1
Analysis: Allow me to nerd out here. Any hardcore Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan, like me, loves the seventh season episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" in which Captain Sisko's Niners take on the all-Vulcan team "The Logicians."
You used to be able to buy Niners jerseys with the player of your choice (Worf, Kira, Quark, etc). But that was back when Star Trek, before the reboot, was (kinda) cool. You can still get patches, however, of the above symbol, which is nerdy fun.
A little trivia for those still reading:
- Cirroc Lofton, one of the stars of DS9 playing Jake Sisko, has an uncle who previously played in the majors: Kenny Lofton.
- Captain Sisko wore a Giants hat in the baseball episode (no reason given) while Jake wore a Braves hat likely for the reason above.
- Worf's version of "hey batter batter batter"? "DEATH TO THE OPPOSITION."