Logo Nostalgia

Here is another contribution from Alex on his fondness for logos from the past.

Soccer greats like Pele made the New York Cosmos one of the most popular NY teams in their time.

A few weeks ago, I received a call from a friend in Oklahoma.  While visiting relatives in Michigan, he came across this pennant at a garage sale.  For $5, he said, it could be all mine. I told him to jump on it, and a few days later, it was at my doorstep.  I have always an affinity for pennants from defunct teams and in addition to the Indianapolis Racers, I own pennants from the defunct Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association and the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.

The significance of the Indianapolis Racers  begins in 1978, as they became the first professional hockey team to sign and up-and-coming young star named Wayne Gretzky. Although the Racers were not one of the four teams absorbed from the WHA into the NHL when the league folded, their logo is a favorite of mine. After purchasing the pennant, I began to think about the WHA and the NASL, two seemingly forgotten leagues, and about how, even if they were not financially sustainable, produced some of the best and worst logos in pro sports.  Below, I highlight some of the best logos from these leagues of yesteryear. It may be pointless nostalgia, but since when is that ever a bad thing?

The  World Hockey Association (born 1972, died 1979) featured some confusing team names/logos, including the Miami Screaming Eagles (why “eagles” in Miami and why are they “screaming”?), the Minnesota Fighting Saints (since when are saints violent people?) and the New York Golden Blades  and New York Raiders (the former looks like it could serve as a logo for a low budget figure skating event, while the latter features neither a raider, nor the cityscape of New York).  Other logos were just flat out lame. They include the Michigan Stags (why does the deer only have three legs?), the New England Whalers (note the smiling whale and the addition of “ers” next to it), and the Baltimore Blades (a deformed hockey stick forming the shape of a “B”).

Some pluses from the WHA: The aforementioned Indianapolis Racers (I like how they incorporate the city’s racing tradition in the logo, and not just the name), the aforementioned Toronto Toros/Birmingham Bulls (Check out that bull. He’s tough, fierce, and I love the added detail of the smokey snort), the Quebec Nordiques (having visited Quebec City, I can honestly say they deserve their team back.  A team needs to relocate there immediately), and the Winnipeg Jets (see this previous article on how the current Jets spit on their own tradition). With the overall lack of popularity for hockey, it is no surprise a competing league to the NHL never survived.

The Indianapolis Racers were the first professional team to sign Wayne Gretzky.

Speaking of sports that lack popularity, let’s turn our attention to soccer and the NASL (born 1967, died 1984).  First the gassers: the Atlanta Apollos (for obvious reasons), the Cleveland Stokers (for obvious reasons), the Hartford Bicentennials (ripped straight from the nearest men’s bathroom room door) and the Montreal Manic (not necessarily bad, just boring).  Then there are those teams who didn’t even attempt to create a logo. The wall of shame includes the Denver/Washington Darts (two cites, same crummy logo), the Seattle Sounders and Team Hawaii (who ripped off who?).

However, it wasn’t all bad in the NASL. The Cosmos (an iconic team with an equally identifiable logo) and the Vancouver Whitecaps were  beacons of light.  Speaking of beacons, the Boston Beacons was pretty creative, especially after it followed this previous Boston soccer logo.

While these leagues no longer give us the thrills and chills associated with their respective sports, there are certain logos from the NASL and WHA that can live on in our collective memories.  Or in my case, in the form of old pennants in my apartment.