On This Day in 1971: The New York Soccer Club is Nicknamed Cosmos
On February 4th, 1971, the newest NASL team from New York City chose "Cosmos" for its nickname. At the time, the club announced that it had held a "name the team" contest and that is where the name "Cosmos" came from, but as the club's first general manager explained to club historian, Dr. David Kilpatrick, what really happened is far more interesting.
Dr. David Kilpatrick: February 4th marks the anniversary of when you came up with the Cosmos name, in 1971. How did you came up with the name?
Clive Toye: I wanted a name which was different. I wanted a name which was big. So I went through the list of names in my own mind of the New York sports franchises, and didn’t think too much of any of them, but looked to see where I could follow on and be bigger. The most recent club to come into existence was the Mets, and the Mets was short for Metropolitan. And I thought, “how can I come up with something which is bigger than that?”, and came up with Cosmopolitan.
The Ertegun brothers wanted to call it the New York Blues and somebody else even wanted to have the team wear pink uniforms and call it the New York Lovers.
CT: Oh yes! So I thought Cosmopolitan, no good; Cosmopolites, that’s no good. But Cosmos, that is great. It’s a derivation of Cosmopolitan and what is New York other than cosmopolitan? And what is bigger than the cosmos? Nothing, so that’s what we’ll be.
Then I had the problem of convincing the ownership that that was the name. So I offered two free tickets from New York to Switzerland for the winners of the competition for the name of New York’s newest professional soccer club.
Then [we] had the competition and, you can imagine, we didn’t get that many entries, cause we didn’t get that much publicity - this was January of 1971. So I wrote a lot of letters myself, to myself, with different names and addresses, proposing the name the Cosmos.
And then, thank God, I remember opening a piece of mail and there were two high school teachers in Queens who came up with the name, the "Cosmos". So now I had two real people to whom I could give the trip to Switzerland, and another twenty-thirty people – whose handwriting looked suspiciously like my own – proposing the Cosmos, and could therefore could go to the ownership and say, "look, this is it, the Cosmos." So that is how the name the Cosmos came about.
And that is the honest truth.
Clive Toye’s latest book, Toby and the Greatest Game, a children’s novel about soccer, was published earlier this year by iUniverse Press. His autobiographical account of the Cosmos’ formation and the first incarnation of the North American Soccer League, A Kick in the Grass, is available from St. Johann Press.