Did you know that the New York Knicks are named after pants? Knickerbockers or Knickers – as they’re more commonly known – were worn by Dutch settlers in the 1600s when they first arrived in New York. I had knickers when I was in third grade. They were light blue and I loved wearing them – it was 1982, I didn’t know any better.
Actually, the Knicks were really named after Father Knickerbocker, a famous character who was synonymous with New York City back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He just happened to wear Knickerbockers like most early settlers.
Father Knickerbocker’s first appearance came in 1809 when 26 year old Washington Irving wrote a book called “A HISTORY OF NEW YORK FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO THE END OF THE DUTCH DYNASTY” under the pen name Dedrich Knickerbocker – Dedrich means father in Dutch. The book was actually a spoof about New York City’s history but New Yorkers at the time – who were recent settlers and had no idea about the city’s history – fell for it. The book ended up becoming the first bestseller in Manhattan. Some people took the book so literally that they claimed to be related to Dedrich Knickerbocker.
Originally, the name Knickerbockers belonged to a city baseball team – the first one in history – which was formed in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright. The Knickerbockers or Knickerbocker Nine played in Manhattan one year before moving to Hoboken, New Jersey in 1846.
When the Basketball Association of America granted New York City it’s charter in 1946, the team was named the New York Knickerbockers. The name was chosen after a few people in the office decided to put potential team names into a hat. The majority of the people that day chose the name after Father Knickerbocker and since he was still a symbol of New York at the time, they went with it. The name was soon shortened to “Knicks” and they’re not usually referred to by their full name – just as the New York Mets who are no longer called the New York Metropolitans.
Father Knickerbocker was also the Knicks first logo. From 1946-47 through 1963-64, the logo was a cartoon version of Father Knickerbocker dribbling a basketball. In 1964, they changed the logo to the round ball logo that remained as a symbol of the Knicks until the 1980′s.
I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson!
*In doing research for this bit of trivia, I came across an article from 1905 about Father Knickerbocker. You can see from the picture that he looks just like most of the first settlers who arrived in America in 1600′s and 1700′s.*