The New York Giants shell game

stoneham Two years ago, a commenter on a post on this blog said that he had looked for a badge and crest of the New York Giants soccer team of the original American Soccer League, but without success. I wasn't surprised that he hadn't been able to find them, and not just because American soccer teams of 80 years ago didn't go in for graphic symbols as much as teams today do.

The other reason is that the New York Giants had a rather confused history and can be somewhat hard to pin down, graphically or otherwise. I have written three posts in this blog that referred to the New York Giants. One mentioned two games that the New York Giants played against touring Hakoah teams from Austria in 1926 and 1927. Another mentioned the Giants as one of the three ASL teams who refused the league's order to pull out of the U.S. Open Cup during the Soccer War of 1928-29. The third was about the New York Giants' second-leg comeback in an ASL playoff series in 1932. However, these were two different New York Giants teams I was referring to. Let me see if I can untangle this:

In 1923, New York fur merchant Maurice Vandeweghe bought the Paterson franchise of the ASL and moved the team to New York. Its new home field was in the Bronx, although it did play some big games at the Polo Grounds. Vandeweghe (the father and grandfather of future basketball stars Ernie and Kiki Vandeweghe) originally renamed the team the New York National Giants, but in 1924, he changed it to New York Giants.

In 1927, Charles Stoneham (above), the owner of the New York Giants baseball team, bought the Indiana Flooring team of the ASL. He would have liked to rename it the New York Giants, the same as his baseball team, but that name was already taken by Vandeweghe's team, so Stoneham settled for renaming his team the New York Nationals. Indiana Flooring had played its home games at New York Oval in the Bronx, which it shared with Vandeweghe's team, but Stoneham moved the team a few miles, across the Harlem River to the Polo Grounds, where his baseball team played.

In 1930, Vandeweghe sold his team to a company that renamed it the New York Soccer Club. This freed the name "New York Giants," so Stoneham grabbed it, changing his team's name from New York Nationals to New York Giants.

The New York Giants who played Hakoah in 1926 and 1927, and who defied the ASL during the Soccer War by playing in the U.S. Open Cup, were Vandeweghe's team. The New York Giants who beat the New Bedford Whalers in that 1932 playoff were Stoneham's team.

By 1933, both teams had folded, as had the original ASL, and it was all a point for the history books.

New York Giants isn't the only name that has been worn by more than one team in American soccer history, just the most confusing. There have been several Brooklyn Wanderers teams, several Seattle Sounders teams, two Kearny Scots teams, at least two St. Louis Shamrocks teams and, as we all know by now, more than one New York Cosmos team.