The Origins of All 30 NBA Team Names

LeBron and Steph
LeBron and Steph
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The Hornets were supposed to be the Spirit, while the Grizzlies were almost named the Mounties. Why is a team in Los Angeles nicknamed the Lakers, and what's a team called the Jazz doing in Utah? Here's the story behind the nicknames of all 30 teams.

Atlanta Hawks

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In 1948, the cities of Moline and Rock Island, IL, and Davenport, IA—collectively known as the Tri-Cities at the time—were awarded a team in the National Basketball League. The team was nicknamed the Blackhawks, who, like Chicago's hockey team, were named after the Sauk Indian Chief Black Hawk. When the team moved to Milwaukee in 1951, the nickname was shortened to Hawks. The franchise retained the shortened moniker for subsequent moves to St. Louis and finally Atlanta in 1968.

Boston Celtics

Celtics coach Brad Stevens

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Team owner Walter Brown personally chose Celtics over Whirlwinds, Olympians, and Unicorns (yes, Unicorns) as the nickname for Boston's Basketball Association of America team in 1946. Despite the warnings of one of his publicity staffers, who told Brown, "No team with an Irish name has ever won a damned thing in Boston," Brown liked the winning tradition of the nickname; the New York Celtics were a successful franchise during the 1920s.

Brooklyn Nets


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The New Jersey Americans joined the American Basketball Association in 1967 and moved to New York the following season. The team was renamed the New York Nets, which conveniently rhymed with Jets and Mets, two of the Big Apple's other professional franchises. Before the 1977-78 season, the team returned to New Jersey but kept its nickname. In 1994, the Nets were reportedly considering changing their nickname to the Swamp Dragons to boost its marketing efforts. The franchise relocated to Brooklyn in 2012.

Charlotte Hornets

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The three finalists in the name-the-team contest for Charlotte's 2004 expansion franchise were Bobcats, Dragons, and Flight. Owner Bob Johnson was fond of BOBcats, but some of the league's players were less than impressed. "It sounds like a girls' softball team to me," Steve Kerr told reporters at the time. "I guess it shows there aren't many good nicknames left to be had." Perhaps Kerr was right. Bobcats became the Charlotte Hornets in 2014, reuniting the city with its previous NBA franchise's original nickname.

Where did Hornets come from? In 1987, George Shinn and his ownership group announced that Spirit would be the nickname of Charlotte's prospective expansion franchise. Fans voiced their displeasure, and it didn't help that some fans associated the nickname with the PTL Club, a Charlotte-based evangelical Christian television program that was the subject of an investigative report by the Charlotte Observer for its fundraising activities. Shinn decided to sponsor a name-the-team contest and had fans vote on six finalists. More than 9000 ballots were cast and Hornets won by a landslide, beating out Knights, Cougars, Spirit, Crowns, and Stars. Afterwards, Shinn noted that the nickname had some historical significance; during the Revolutionary War, a British commander reportedly referred to the area around Charlotte as a "hornet’s nest of rebellion."

Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls
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According to the Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia, team owner Richard Klein was brainstorming nicknames for his new franchise in 1966 and wanted a name that portrayed Chicago's status as the meat capital of the world. Another theory is that Klein admired the strength and toughness of bulls. Klein was considering Matadors and Toreadors when his young son exclaimed, "Dad, that's a bunch of bull!" The rest is somewhat dubious history.

Cleveland Cavaliers


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Fans voted Cavaliers the team nickname in 1970 in a poll conducted by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. The other finalists included Jays, Foresters, Towers, and Presidents. The Presidents nickname was presumably an allusion to the fact that seven former U.S. Presidents were born in Ohio, second only to Virginia. Jerry Tomko, who suggested Cavaliers in the contest, wrote, "Cavaliers represent a group of daring fearless men, whose life pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds." (Tomko's son, Brett, went on to become a Major League pitcher.)

Dallas Mavericks

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A Dallas radio station sponsored a name-the-team contest and recommended the finalists to team owner Donald Carter, who ultimately chose Mavericks over Wranglers and Express. The 41 fans who suggested Mavericks each won a pair of tickets to the season opener and one of those fans, Carla Springer, won a drawing for season tickets. Springer, a freelance writer, said the nickname "represents the independent, flamboyant style of the Dallas people." That's certainly an apt description for current team owner Mark Cuban.

Denver Nuggets


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Denver's ABA team was originally known as the Rockets. When the team was preparing to move to the NBA in 1974, they needed a new nickname, as Rockets was already claimed by the franchise in Houston. Nuggets, an allusion to the city's mining tradition and the Colorado Gold Rush during the late 1850s and early 1860s, was chosen via a name-the-team contest.

Detroit Pistons


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The Pistons trace their roots to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they were known as the Zollner Pistons. (Best logo ever.) What's a Zollner Piston? A piston manufactured by then-team owner Fred Zollner, who named the club after his personal business. When the team moved to Detroit in 1957, Zollner dropped his name from the nickname but retained Pistons. The name was fitting for the Motor City.

Golden State Warriors

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The Philadelphia Warriors, named after the 1920s team that played in the American Basketball League, won the championship in the inaugural 1946-47 season of the Basketball Association of America. The Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco after the 1961-62 season and retained their nickname. When the team relocated across the Bay to Oakland in 1971, they were renamed the Golden State Warriors.

Houston Rockets

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The Houston Rockets originally called San Diego home. Rockets was chosen via a name-the-team contest and was a reference to the city's theme, "A City In Motion." Liquid-fueled Atlas rockets were also being manufactured in San Diego. When the team moved to Houston in 1971, it made perfectly good sense to keep the name, as Houston was home to a NASA space center.

Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers
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According to Michael Leo Donovan's book on team nicknames, Yankees to Fighting Irish: What's Behind Your Favorite Team's Name, the Pacers' nickname was decided upon in 1967 by the team's original investors, including attorney Richard Tinkham. The nickname is a reference to Indiana's rich harness and auto racing history. Pacing describes one of the main gaits for harness racing, while pace cars are used for auto races, such as the Indianapolis 500.

Los Angeles Clippers


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When the NBA's Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978, the owners wanted to rebrand the team with a new nickname. They settled on Clippers, a popular type of ship during the 19th century. San Diego had been home to the Conquistadors/Sails of the ABA during the 1970s. Donald Sterling bought the Clippers during the 1981-82 season and relocated them to his native Los Angeles in 1984. He lost all respect in San Diego but kept the Clippers name.

Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
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How many natural lakes are there in Los Angeles? The short answer: Less than 10,000. When a pair of investors relocated the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League to Minneapolis before the 1947 season, they sought a name that would ring true with the team's new home. Given that Minnesota is "The Land of 10,000 Lakes," they settled on Lakers. When the Lakers moved to Los Angeles before the 1960 season, their nickname was retained, in part because of the tradition the team had established in Minnesota.

Memphis Grizzlies

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When Vancouver was awarded an expansion franchise in 1994 to begin play the following season, the team's owners had tentative plans to name the team the Mounties. The Royal Mounted Canadian Police and fans alike objected, so team officials resumed their search for a name. The local newspaper sponsored a name-the-team contest, which club officials monitored before choosing Grizzlies, an indigenous species to the area, over Ravens. When the team relocated to Memphis before the 2001-02 season, FedEx was prepared to offer the Grizzlies $100 million to rename the team the Express, but the NBA rejected the proposal.

Miami Heat

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In October 1986, the owners of Miami's expansion franchise selected Stephanie Freed's Heat submission from more than 20,000 entries, which also included Sharks, Tornadoes, Beaches, and Barracudas.

Milwaukee Bucks


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Despite Wisconsin’s hunting tradition, the most popular entry in the contest to name Milwaukee’s NBA franchise wasn’t Bucks. It was Robins. The judges overruled the public and decided on a more indigenous (and much stronger) name. The choice could have been much worse: Skunks was among the other entries.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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The ownership group for Minnesota's prospective franchise chose Timberwolves through a name-the-team contest in 1986. The nickname beat out Polars by a 2-1 margin in the final vote, which was conducted in 333 of the state's 842 city councils. Tim Pope, who was one of the first fans to nominate Timberwolves, won a trip to the NBA All-Star Game. Pope submitted 10 nicknames in all, including Gun Flints. "I thought a two-word name would win," he told a reporter. The most popular entry in the contest was Blizzard, but the team wanted a nickname that was more unique to its home state. "Minnesota is the only state in the lower 48 with free-roaming packs of timber wolves," a team official said.

New Orleans Pelicans

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Soon after Tom Benson purchased the New Orleans Hornets in 2012, the team announced they were going to change their name. According to Yahoo's Marc J. Spears, they "considered the nicknames Krewe (groups of costumed paraders in the annual Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans) and Brass," but settled on Pelicans—after the brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird.

New York Knicks

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The term "Knickerbockers" referred specifically to pants rolled up just below the knee by Dutch settlers in the New World during the 1600s. Many of these settlers found homes in and around New York City, where a cartoon drawing of Father Knickerbocker became a prominent symbol of the city. In 1845, baseball's first organized team was nicknamed the Knickerbocker Nine and the name was evoked again in 1946 when New York was granted a franchise in the Basketball Association of America. Team founder Ned Irish reportedly made the decision to call the team the Knickerbockers—supposedly after pulling the name out of a hat.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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When the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season, fans voted on potential nicknames from an original list of 64 possibilities. Thunder was chosen over Renegades, Twisters, and Barons, and the name was extremely well received. The team set sales records for the first day after the nickname was revealed. "There's just all kinds of good thunder images and thoughts, and the in-game experience of Thunder," team chairman Clay Bennett told reporters. The SuperSonics had been named for the Supersonic Transport (SST) project, which had been awarded to Boeing. The company has a large plant in the Seattle area.

Orlando Magic


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When the Orlando Sentinel sponsored a name-the-team contest for Orlando's prospective expansion franchise, Challengers—an allusion to the space shuttle that crashed in 1986—was the most popular suggestion. Other entries included Floridians, Juice, Orbits, Astronauts, Aquamen, and Sentinels, but the panel of judges, including Orlando team officials who reviewed the suggestions, decided to go with Magic. The name is an obvious nod to the tourism-rich city's main attraction, Disney World.

Philadelphia 76ers

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The Syracuse Nationals were relocated to the City of Brotherly Love in 1963 and the team was renamed the 76ers, an allusion to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776.

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns
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General manager Jerry Colangelo, only 28 at the time, settled on a name for his expansion franchise using a name-the-team contest in 1968. Colangelo chose Suns over Scorpions, Rattlers, and Thunderbirds, among the other suggestions included in the 28,000 entries. One lucky fan won $1,000 and season tickets as part of the contest, which included such obscure entries as White Wing Doves, Sun Lovers, Poobahs, Dudes, and Cactus Giants.

Portland Trail Blazers

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In 1970, Portland was granted an expansion franchise in the NBA and team officials announced a name-the-team contest. Of the more than 10,000 entries, Pioneers was the most popular, but was ruled out because nearby Lewis & Clark College was already using the nickname. Another popular entry was Trail Blazers, whose logo is supposed to represent five players on one team playing against five players from another team.

Sacramento Kings


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The Kings' royal lineage stretches all the way back to the founding of the National Basketball League's Rochester Royals in 1945. The Royals retained their nickname after a move to Cincinnati in 1957 and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (soon dropping the Omaha) through a name-the-team contest in 1972. The name remained unchanged when the franchise relocated to California in 1985.

San Antonio Spurs


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A group of San Antonio investors purchased the Dallas Chaparrals from the American Basketball Association in 1973 and decided to hold a public contest to rename the team. Five thousand entries with over 500 names were submitted. After reconsidering their first decision to call the team the Aztecs (several teams already used that name), the judges (investors and local press representatives) settled on Spurs. It may have just been a coincidence that one of the team's main investors, Red McCombs, was born in Spur, Texas.

Toronto Raptors

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The ownership group of Toronto's prospective expansion team conducted extensive marketing research across Canada in 1994 and held a nationwide vote that helped team officials come up with a list of potential nicknames. Raptors, which Jurassic Park helped popularize the year before, was eventually chosen over runners-up Bobcats and Dragons.

Utah Jazz

Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
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No, Utah isn't known for its Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans in 1974 and club officials decided to keep the name after relocating to Salt Lake City in 1979. The Jazz nickname was originally chosen through a name-the-team contest, which produced seven other finalists: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights. Deltas would've translated to Salt Lake City rather well (the airline of the same name has a hub there), while Cajuns may have been even worse than Jazz.

Washington Wizards

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In the early 1990s, Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin was becoming frustrated with the association of his team's nickname and gun violence. After Pollin's friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated, Pollin decided to take action and announced his plans to rename the team. (Though Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog wrote a very detailed history of the name change, and called into question the impact Rabin's death had on the decision.)

A name-the-team contest was held and fans voted on a list of finalists that included Wizards, Dragons, Express, Stallions, and Sea Dogs. Not long after Wizards was announced as the winning name before the 1997-98 season, the local NAACP chapter president complained that the nickname carried Ku Klux Klan associations. Previous nicknames for the franchise when they were still in Chicago include Packers and Zephyrs.

This post was originally published in 2009.

Kitty O'Neil, Trailblazing Speed Racer and Wonder Woman's Stunt Double

PHOTO COLLAGE BY DAMON AMATO, MINUTE MEDIA. MOTORCYCLE/CAR/DIVINGBOARD, ISTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES. PORTRAIT, MIDCO SPORTS MAGAZINE // YOUTUBE
PHOTO COLLAGE BY DAMON AMATO, MINUTE MEDIA. MOTORCYCLE/CAR/DIVINGBOARD, ISTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES. PORTRAIT, MIDCO SPORTS MAGAZINE // YOUTUBE

Kitty O’Neil could do it all. A stuntwoman, drag racer, and diver, the legendary daredevil's skills were once described by the Chicago Tribune as “full and partial engulfment in fire; swimming; diving; water skiing; scuba diving; horse falls, jumps, drags, and transfers; high falls into an air bag or water; car rolls; cannon-fired car driving; motorcycle racing; speed, drag, sail, and power boat handling; fight routines; gymnastics; snow skiing; jet skiing; sky diving; ice skating; golf; tennis; track and field; 10-speed bike racing; and hang gliding.”

During her lifetime, O’Neil set 22 speed records on both the land and sea—including the women’s land speed record of 512 mph, which remains unmatched to this day. Through it all, she battled casual sexism and ableism, as she was often not only the lone woman in the room, but the lone deaf person on the drag strip or movie set.

"It Wasn't Scary Enough for Me"

O’Neil was born on March 24, 1946, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her father, John, was an Air Force pilot and oil driller, while her mother, Patsy, was a homemaker. When she was just a few months old, O’Neil contracted mumps, measles, and smallpox, an onslaught of illness that damaged her nerves and caused her to lose her hearing. Patsy, who had packed her in ice during the worst of the fever, went back to school for speech pathology so she could teach her daughter how to read lips and form words. She placed the young girl’s hand on her throat as she spoke, allowing her to feel the vibrations of her vocal cords.

Feeling those sensations helped Kitty learn to talk, while the sensations associated with engines would teach her something else. At the age of 4, O’Neil convinced her father to let her ride atop the lawn mower in what would be a transformative experience. “I could feel the vibrations,” she told the Associated Press. “That’s what got me into racing. When I race, I feel the vibrations.”

But racing wasn’t her first thrill ride. As a teenager, O’Neil showed such an aptitude for diving that Patsy decided to move the family to Anaheim, California, where O’Neil could train with the two-time Olympic gold medalist Sammy Lee. She was on her way to the qualifying rounds for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when she broke her wrist, eliminating her from consideration. Soon after, she contracted spinal meningitis. Her doctors worried she wouldn’t walk again.

She recovered, but found she was no longer interested in diving. “I gave it up because it wasn’t scary enough for me,” she told the Chicago Tribune.

Motorcycle racing proved to be a better adrenaline rush, so she began entering competitions along the West Coast. It was at one of those races that she met another speedster named Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton, who offered his assistance after O’Neil crashed her bike, severing two fingers. Once she had gotten stitched up, the pair began a professional and romantic relationship. O’Neil moved onto a 40-acre ranch in Fillmore, California, with Hambleton and his two children from a previous relationship.

Hambleton would act as O’Neil’s manager, often speaking to the press for her after stunts or record attempts. However, O’Neil later alleged that he stole money from her and physically abused her during their partnership. In 1988, a Star Tribune reporter would describe O’Neil’s scrapbooks as containing a photo of Hambleton with his face scratched out; she had also written “not true” in the margins of newspaper clippings touting his profound impact on her success.

The Need for Speed

O’Neil wanted to go fast and she didn’t care how. So she expanded her scope beyond motorcycles, setting a new women’s water skiing record in 1970 with a speed of 104.85 mph. Her national breakout arrived six years later, when she drove a skinny three-wheel rocket car into the Alvord Desert. The hydrogen peroxide-powered vehicle was dubbed “The Motivator,” and it was the work of William Fredrick, a designer who normally created cars for movie and TV stunts. When O’Neil got behind the wheel of The Motivator, she quickly smashed the women’s land speed record. Her average speed was 512 mph, over 1.5 times faster than the previous 321 mph record held by Lee Breedlove since 1965.

She believed she could beat the men’s record of 631.4 mph, too, which should’ve been great news for her entire team. Fredrick and his corporate sponsors were gunning for a new record, and O'Neil had already reportedly hit a maximum speed of 618 mph in her initial run. But before she could take The Motivator for a second spin, she was ordered out of the car.

As O’Neil would discover, she had only been contracted to beat the women’s record. Marvin Glass & Associates, the toy company that owned the rights to the vehicle, wanted Hollywood stuntman Hal Needham to break the men’s record. The company claimed it was purely a business decision, as they had a Needham action figure in the works. But according to Hambleton, the company reps had said it would be “unbecoming and degrading for a woman to set a land speed record.”

“It really hurts,” O’Neil told UPI reporters as she choked back tears. “I wanted to do it again. I had a good feeling.” She earned the immediate support of the men’s record holder, Gary Gabelich, who called the whole incident “ridiculous” and “kind of silly.” She and Hambleton tried to sue for her right to another attempt, but she wouldn’t get a second ride in The Motivator. Needham wouldn’t break the record, either, as a storm dampened his chances. Not that he was especially polite about it.

“Hell, you’re not talking about sports when you’re talking about land speed records,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “It doesn’t take any God-given talent … even a good, smart chimpanzee could probably do it. Probably better—because he wouldn’t be worried about dying.”

As the messy legal battle dragged on, O’Neil focused on her budding career in stunt work. According to The New York Times, she completed her first stunt in March of 1976, when she zipped up a flame-resistant Nomex suit and let someone set her on fire. For her second job, she rolled a car, which was practically a personal hobby. (She liked to tell people she rolled her mother’s car when she was 16, the day she got her driver’s license.) O’Neil eventually became Lynda Carter’s stunt double on Wonder Woman, where she famously leapt 127 feet off a hotel roof onto an air bag below. “If I hadn’t hit the center of the bag, I probably would have been killed,” she told The Washington Post in 1979.

Her work earned her a place in Stunts Unlimited, the selective trade group that had, until that point, only admitted men. O’Neil continued racking up credits with gigs on The Bionic Woman, Smokey and the Bandit II, and The Blues Brothers. Although few stunt doubles achieve name recognition, O’Neil was a media darling who inspired her own 1979 TV movie starring Stockard Channing and a Barbie in her trademark yellow jumpsuit.

A Pioneer's Legacy

But by 1982, feeling burned out after watching the toll the work had taken on colleagues, O'Neil decided she was finished. She retired from the business at the age of 36, packing up and leaving Los Angeles entirely. She wound up in Minneapolis and then in Eureka, South Dakota, a town with a population of fewer than 1000 people. She would live out the rest of her days there, eventually dying of pneumonia in 2018 at the age of 72.

O’Neil lived her life as a never-ending challenge—to go faster, jump higher, do better. She always said that her lack of hearing helped her concentrate, eliminating any fear she might’ve felt over the prospect of breaking the sound barrier, let alone self-immolation.

“When I was 18, I was told I couldn’t get a job because I was deaf,” she told a group of deaf students at the Holy Trinity School in Chicago. “But I said someday I’m going to be famous in sports, to show them I can do anything.”

O’Neil did exactly that. Over her the course of perilous career, she carved out a name for herself in a space that was often openly hostile towards her, setting records and making it impossible for anyone who doubted her to catch up.

43 Fast Facts About Field of Dreams

Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner star as Annie and Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams (1989).
Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner star as Annie and Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

If you have seen Field of Dreams, you likely have a strong opinion on it. While some are moved by its fantastical and heartfelt story of personal redemption, others dismiss it as maudlin and silly, or a "male weepie at its wussiest," as Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine once infamously put it. Either way you look at it, the Oscar-nominated movie—which made its debut on May 5, 1989—is still being talked about 30 years after its release.

1. Field of Dreams was based on a book called Shoeless Joe.

Field of Dreams writer-director Phil Alden Robinson had loved W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe since the book was first published in 1982. Despite 20th Century Fox's repeated insistence through the years that the story wasn't commercial enough to be adapted into a movie, Robinson continued working on a script for it. Eventually Robinson and producers Lawrence and Charles Gordon sold the screenplay to Universal.

2. Shoeless Joe evolved from a short story.

Ray Liotta in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Ray Liotta stars as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

Before Shoeless Joe, there was “Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa,” a 20-page short story that W.P. Kinsella penned for an anthology. When Larry Kessenich—an editor at Houghton Mifflin—read the synopsis, he contacted Kinsella and convinced him to turn the premise into a full-length novel. “I wrote back to say I would need guidance, as I had published four collections of short stories but had never written a publishable novel," Kinsella said.

3. It took W.P. Kinsella just nine months to write the book.

While Shoeless Joe may have been Kinsella's first novel, he finished it rather quickly. With Kessenich’s help, this new extended version of the story was completed in the span of nine months.

4. Phil Alden Robinson was upset that the studio wouldn’t let him use the title Shoeless Joe.

When Field of Dreams was first shown to test audiences, it was using the title Shoeless Joe. Audiences said it reminded them of a hobo. With trepidation, Robinson called Kinsella to tell him that the movie's name was being changed to Field of Dreams. Kinsella was ok with it, as one of his own ideas for his book's title was The Dream Field. It was apparently his publisher who pushed for Shoeless Joe.

5. A few characters from Shoeless Joe were omitted from the Field of Dreams script.

In the Shoeless Joe novel, we’re introduced Eddie “Kid” Scissions, the previous owner of Ray’s farm. An elderly Iowan, Scissons claims to be the “oldest living Chicago Cub,” but soon enough, Ray learns he never even suited up for the team. “It was a wonderful subplot,” Robinson said, “[but] we couldn’t find room for it.” Another character cut out of Robinson’s screenplay was Richard Kinsella, Ray’s identical twin brother.

6. In the book, J.D. Salinger was the author Ray Kinsella tries to kidnap.

W.P. Kinsella's real original title for his book was The Kidnapping of J.D. Salinger. Studio executives, however, were afraid that bad publicity from Salinger's threats to file a lawsuit would harm them, so the character of Terence Mann was created instead.

7. Ray Kinsella was named after a J.D. Salinger character.

A photo of J.D. Salinger
Wikimedia Commons

W.P. Kinsella insists he didn't just put his own last name as Ray's and call it a day. Kinsella was a last name Salinger used in two stories: Richard Kinsella was an annoying classmate of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher In the Rye, and Ray Kinsella was a character in the short story A Young Girl in 1941 With No Waist at All. The idea was for a Salinger creation to appear in front of his creator and take him to a ballgame.

8. An outfield fence was considered, but never built, for Field of Dreams.

Here’s another difference between Kinsella’s novel and its Hollywood adaptation. “In the book, there’s a fence with a door in it that separates the ball field from the corn field, and we had done drawings of walls and fences” Robinson explained in a discussion with sportswriters Stephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus. “I asked, ‘Why would he build a fence?’ and then the corn became the wall.”

9. Kevin Costner wasn't initially considered for Field of Dreams because he had just starred in Bull Durham.

Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham (1988)
Tim Robbins and Kevin Costner face off in Bull Durham (1988).
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Kevin Costner was the first actor to come to Robinson's mind to play Ray, but he had just starred in Bull Durham, another baseball movie. A Universal executive got Costner to read the script anyway, and he decided to do it because he felt it would be akin to It's a Wonderful Life.

10. W.P. Kinsella and his wife almost appeared in Field of Dreams.

Kinsella and his wife were in the crowd for a scene of a PTA meeting, which was shot at a gymnasium in Farley, Iowa. “My wife and I were part of the audience at the PTA scene,” Kinsella later said. “We were trapped there for a full day of sweltering retakes, and we never appeared in the final cut.”

11. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras in Field of Dreams.

Damon was 17 years old and Affleck turned 16 during the summer of 1988, when the film shot on location for the scenes in Fenway Park. More than a decade later Affleck would star in Robinson's The Sum of All Fears; on the first day of shooting, he reportedly told Robinson: "Nice working with you again."

12. There’s a Watergate Easter egg in Field of Dreams.

A portrait of 37th president Richard Nixon
Keystone/Getty Images

While walking through the streets of Chisholm, Minnesota, Ray spots a campaign poster for Richard Nixon in a storefront window. Guess what’s on display right behind it? An assortment of tape recorders. “I thought that was so clever, but in the film print you can’t actually see [the recorders],” Robinson said in 2013. However, they’re clear as day in digital editions of the movie.

13. The person who voiced "The Voice" that spoke to Ray in Field of Dreams remains a mystery.

For years it was rumored that the voiced belonged to Ray Liotta, who played Shoeless Joe Jackson. Kinsella wrote that he was told it was actually Ed Harris, Amy Madigan's husband (Madigan played Ray's wife, Annie).

"What’s funny is that a few people who thought they knew have revealed it and gotten it wrong," Robinson said in June 2019. "I’ll read people saying, ‘Well I happen to know that it’s so-and-so,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh no, it’s not!’ We’ll let that remain a secret. It’s a great mystery, and I like that.” The Voice is officially credited as being played by Himself.

14. A deleted scene from Field of Dreams sees Ray getting his hearing checked.

Before Ray starts obeying the mysterious voice that's speaking to him, he tries to find a logical explanation for it. “I … had a scene in which he goes to an ear doctor to have his hearing checked,” Robinson told Deadline. Ultimately, this footage wound up on the cutting room floor.

15. People regularly misquote Field of Dreams’s most famous line.

The actual quote is: "If you build it, he will come," not "If you build it, they will come." It's a common mistake. The line was ranked number 39 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time.

16. The grass was painted green for Field of Dreams.

Filmed on an actual cornfield-turned-baseball diamond in Dyersville, Iowa, a season-long drought led to the need for some cosmetic touch-ups. The dying grass was coated with some green vegetable dye and latex turf paint.

17. James Earl Jones's wife told him his "people will come" speech would never make the final cut.

It was James Earl Jones's wife who convinced him to accept the role of Terence Mann in the first place, though she warned him that the "long speech about baseball will never be in the film, it'll be on the cutting-room floor."

18. James Earl Jones reunited with a former Broadway co-star while shooting Field of Dreams.

Back in 1958, Jones made his Broadway debut in a stage production of Sunrise at Campobello. One of his castmates in that show was Anne Seymour, who portrays the Chisolm newspaperwoman in Field of Dreams. This was to be her last role, as she died shortly before the movie’s release. “It was nice to have that moment with Anne,” Jones told the Des Moines Register in 2019.

19. Moonlight Graham is a real person.

Kinsella used Archibald Moonlight Graham's real life story for his book, with the exception that the real Graham's lone major league game took place on June 1905, not on the last day of the 1922 season like Burt Lancaster's character in the film. The author found Graham's name in a baseball encyclopedia he received as a Christmas gift and decided the name was better than anything he could ever come up with on his own. In real life, Graham became the beloved town doctor of Chisholm, Minnesota after answering a newspaper ad.

20. Moonlight Graham’s on-screen uniform in Field of Dreams is a little anachronistic.

Late in the film, a young Graham takes the field in an orange and black New York Giants jersey. This isn’t quite period-accurate: The Giants didn’t start wearing those uniform colors until 1933—long after Graham’s MLB career wrapped up.

21. Jimmy Stewart was the first choice to play Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams.

Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchock's 'Rear Window' (1954)
Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchock's Rear Window (1954).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Jimmy Stewart passed on the role. Burt Lancaster himself initially didn't "get it," but a friend convinced by him to take the part. In Roger Ebert's four-star review of the movie, he said Field of Dreams was "the kind of movie Frank Capra might have directed and James Stewart might have starred in."

22. Field of Dreams quotes Moonlight Graham’s actual obituary.

When the real Graham died in 1965, Veda Ponikvar—the founder of the Chisolm Free Press and Tribune—wrote a stirring tribute. “There were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or clothing,” noted Ponikvar at the time. “Yet no child was ever denied these essentials because in the background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the tickets to the ballgame found their way into the child’s pocket.” In Field of Dreams, Anne Seymour recites those lines word-for-word.

23. Field of Dreams was Burt Lancaster's last film to play in theaters.

Oscar-winning actor Burt Lancaster was 74 years old during the filming of Field of Dreams. After a couple of TV movie jobs, Lancaster retired from acting. He passed away in 1994.

24. Field of Dreams was Gaby Hoffmann's first movie.

Kevin Costner, Gaby Hoffmann, and Burt Lancaster in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Kevin Costner, Gaby Hoffmann, and Burt Lancaster in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

Gaby Hoffmann, the daughter of Andy Warhol superstar Viva Auder Hoffmann and soap actor Anthony Herrera, played Ray's daughter Karin at age six. More recently, you may have seen her in Transparent or Girls.

25. The filming schedule for Field of Dreams was based on the height of the corn.

The corn had to be Kevin Costner's height (he's listed as 6'1") or taller when the voice first spoke to him. With a thumbs up from the state of Iowa, filmmakers dammed a nearby creek to make sure the corn had enough water. It worked almost too well; when Costner first hears "If you build it, he will come," he had to walk onto a foot-high platform. Just in case the creek damming failed, fake corn was on standby to be shipped in from Asia.

26. Field of Dreams’s corn-based schedule upset the powers-that-be on another Kevin Costner movie.

Production on Tony Scott's Revenge was repeatedly postponed while Costner and the cast and crew of Field of Dreams were working with the vegetation. A producer threatened to sue the actor, until it was agreed that Costner would start work on Revenge two days after Field of Dreams wrapped. Revenge ended up making less than $16 million at the box office, while Field of Dreams raked in more than $64 million.

27. Field of Dreams’s composer James Horner was moved to tears by a rough cut of the film.

A still from 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Universal Pictures

Before composer James Horner, the musical maestro behind Titanic and Braveheart, agreed to score Field of Dreams, Robinson gave him a private test-screening. “He came to look at it at an early stage,” Robinson said on a DVD bonus feature. “We showed him the film and when the lights came up, he got up and left the room.” At first, Robinson was crestfallen, thinking Horner must’ve hated the film. But a few moments later, the Oscar-winning composer—who passed away in 2015—came back “very teary-eyed” and agreed to take the job.

28. Field of Dreams star Ray Liotta has never seen the movie.

Though Ray Liotta has been told that Field of Dreams is a great movie, he has yet to see it for himself. Liotta's mother was ill while they were filming the movie, which he mentally associates with the movie.

29. Ray Liotta thought the Field of Dreams script was "silly."

Frank Whaley and Ray Liotta in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Frank Whaley and Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

It was only after the actor read the script a couple more times and read the book Shoeless Joe that it made more sense to him.

30. Former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux was a consultant on Field of Dreams.

The USC Trojans men’s baseball team claimed 11 national championships under Dedaux, who passed away in 2006. While Field of Dreams was in production, he and Don Buford (a major league veteran) helped the actors refine their playing skills. Some of them didn’t need much assistance: According to ESPN’s Jeff Merron, Dedeaux thought Costner “would’ve been good enough to play at USC.”

31. Ray Liotta couldn't hit left-handed well enough for Field of Dreams.

Shoeless Joe Jackson hit lefty and threw righty, but in the movie Liotta plays him as a right-handed batter. Liotta trained with professional baseball coaches for one month to hit left-handed like his character, but it wasn't good enough for the director Robinson. Liotta claimed Robinson said it was okay if the batting wasn't historically accurate, though to this day the actor regrets not finding a way to make it work.

32. Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ty Cobb were on friendly terms in real life.

Ty Cobb & Joe Jackson standing alongside each other, each holding bats
Ty Cobb and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Louis Van Oeyen, Library of Congress // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Despite being one of the first inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Detroit Tigers legend Tyrus “Ty” Cobb never shows up at Ray’s magical park. “None of us could stand the son of a bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it,” Shoeless Joe says in the film. Yet the two players actually liked each other. Once, after they had both retired, Cobb told Shoeless Joe, “I’ll tell you how well I remember you … Whenever I thought I was a good hitter, I’d stop and take a good look at you. Then I knew I could stand some improvement.” By all accounts, Jackson was visibly touched.

33. W.P. Kinsella described watching Field of Dreams get made as “colossal boredom.”

Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner star as Annie and Ray Kinsella in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

"Colossal boredom" was how Kinsella described Iowa in the summer of 1988. The author said his daughter had more fun, because she was involved in "a little romance" with Liotta.

34. W.P. Kinsella gave Field of Dreams four out of five stars.

It lost a potentially perfect rating because Kinsella didn't think Timothy Busfield's Mark was villainous enough, nor that Gaby Hoffmann looked like Ray and Annie's child.

35. A few months before he retired, Vin Scully read Terrence Mann’s iconic speech from Field of Dreams.

Scully started calling Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950. For the next 67 years, the broadcaster stayed with the club, covering its relocation to Los Angeles, all six of the franchise’s World Series championships to date, and almost 10,000 games overall. On May 26, 2016—during his last season in the announcer’s booth—Scully tugged at fans’ heartstrings by reciting the classic “People will come” monologue from Field of Dreams in a viral MLB video.

36. In order to make the final scene in Field of Dreams work, the citizens of Dyersville, Iowa agreed to a town-wide blackout.

In order to film the movie's final scene, 3000 Iowa residents in 1500 cars agreed to take part. There was a forced blackout in the town of Dyersville, Iowa, which included other baseball games and the local train. The director's instructions were broadcast on a local radio station. One was for the drivers to flash their high beams off and on as they drove to make it look as if there was more movement than there actually was.

37. Dwier Brown, who played Kevin Costner’s father in Field of Dreams, worried he would drop the ball during their seminal game of catch.

The scene in which Ray plays catch with his father had to be shot during magic hour, 15 minutes after sunset, which gave little room for error for actor Dwier Brown, who was working with a rock-hard, vintage catcher's mitt. He is proud of the fact that he never dropped it.

38. Dwier Brown shot Field of Dreams right after his own father's funeral.

He got back in time to play catch with Costner. It helped him access the necessary emotions.

39. To celebrate Field of Dreams’s 25th anniversary, Kevin Costner and his sons played catch at the now-iconic field.

Costner tossed a ball around with his sons Hayes and Cayden on June 13, 2014. (At the times, the boys were ages 5 and 7, respectively.) This was part of a three-day festival which included an on-site screening of the film, a Q&A panel hosted by Bob Costas, and a concert featuring Costner’s own band, Modern West.

40. The owner of the farm featured in Field of Dreams proposed to his wife on the baseball field.

The 'Field of Dreams' baseball field
Universal Pictures

Don Lansing met his wife Becky on New Year's Eve 1995 when she made a pilgrimage to visit the baseball field from Field of Dreams. When he proposed marriage, he did so on first base.

41. The field still attracts approximately 100,000 visitors per year.

When Don and Becky Lansing put the property up for sale in 2010, it was purchased by Go the Distance Baseball, an organization that made the property even more accessible to visitors and fans of the movie with a regular roster of special events. Today, 30 years after the movie's original release, an estimated 100,000 people make the trek to visit the baseball field each year.

42. You can rent the Field of Dreams farmhouse—and baseball field.

James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

In 2018, Go the Distance Baseball partnered with Booking.com to make spending the night in the farmhouse featured in Field of Dreams a reality. Guests can book stays of one night or longer. And while they'll have to share the field with the tourists during the hours it's open to the public, you're welcome to have your own private picnic in centerfield once the crowds clear out.

43. The White Sox and Yankees will play one regular-season game near the “Field of Dreams” site in 2020.

Scheduled for August 13, 2020, this’ll be the first Major League Baseball game ever played in Iowa. For the big event, a temporary 8,000-seat stadium will go up next to the park where Field of Dreams was shot. The White Sox have been designated as the “home” team.

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