The Rise and Fall of the “Bay State” Patriots

When one invokes the team name, “Patriots”, it’s easy to play the association game; Brady to Welker, Victor Kiam’s razors, and even a quiet Randy Moss. They’ve been the Boston Patriots and the New England Patriots but did you know that there was a THIRD team name? While you wrack your brains, let’s take a short walk down a long Memory Lane…

The team Howard Cosell loved to hate had plenty going on both on and off the field; of course, they’re just the second team to win three championships in four years, posess the best record during any one decade, and who could forget that 21-game winning streak in 2003/04?

The Patriots were a laughingstock for a time, too, having let Jim Plunkett walk (all he did was win two more Super Bowls) and enduring flops like Joe Kapp, Mike Taliaferro and Phil Olsen (Bonus points if you own any cards with those names on them)

The knock on ALL the New England teams was simple; good during the regular season, but they’d choke faster than a 80-pound grandpa at an all-you-could-eat peanut-butter buffet when they even SNIFFED a trophy – including one 51-10 pasting by my San Diego Chargers and the 1985 Chicago Spanking (Bears 46, Patriots 10).

I remember watching one rainy Sunday Patriot game where the fights in the stands were just EPIC, the game announcers closely imitating those at the loss of the Hindenburg – oh, the humanity – and thinking, “The fights are more interesting to watch than this team”

When you look at the Patriots’ logos, they reflect the team’s fortunes, don’t they? There have been a few different incarnations, but there were, really, only 3 main logos. When “Battlin’ Billy” Sullivan managed to grab the very last AFL franchise up for grabs, he put the team moniker up for grabs – “Let the fans decide! It’s their team.” Bahstonians overwhelmingly chose the “Patriots”.

The team started out, first, with a simple Patriot three-cornered hat;

Then, in 1961, after Boston Globe artist Phil Bissell put pen to paper, “Pat Patriot” was born. He went through a few cleanups and incarnations along the way, but stayed more or less like this through 1992.

Okay, we all recognize Pat – and the lack of success that went along with him.

Of course, you also know the more streamlined version, brought on in time for Parcells in 1993, but largely owned by Brady – it’s a beauty, whether you cheer for the team or not. (Some disagree, of course, calling the current art “The Flying Elvis”, but I like it.)

So, you know all that. No surprises there. Good for you, logo fans.

Did you know, though that the Patriots were nearly named the Bay State Patriots?

Thaaaaat’s right folks, “MAKE SOME NOISE FOR YOUR B.S. PATRIOTS!!!”

It’s true, it’s true.  In 1971, Billy Sullivan, ticked at the city of Boston because they wouldn’t let him build downtown, moved the Pats out to Foxborough’s Schaefer Stadium (later to be renamed Foxboro Stadium) which actually came in under budget and on time – the only thing, to date, that had gone right for the team.  Incidentally, as this clipping shows, they couldn’t even get it right in the front office, mailing the Bay State press release in a BOSTON PATRIOTS envelope!

“Everybody was making jokes about us,” said former GM Upton Bell. “Trouble was, there was a board of directors and you had to convince ‘the mob.’ There were 32 of them.”

Finally, remembers son Pat Sullivan, “someone said Dad did it because our home was on Bay State Road in Wellesley. That did it. Dad said he wouldn’t put up with that.”

Thankfully, he was convinced back to sanity by the NFL, and, on March 22, 1971, the New England Patriots (see? simple works) were born.

Incidentally, “The Bay State Patriot” is now the name of the newsletter from the Massachussets Department of Veterans’ Services. It’s nice to find nearly-irrelevant little tidbits while doing research.

This is hardly the first time that owners have messed with perfectly good products; Blue Jay, Marlin, Padre, Warrior, Trail Blazer, Red Sox, Brown, Buccaneer and (especially) Islander fans know all too well the abject misery of multiple bad moniker switches; I have one NYI fan friend who, when confronted with Captain Highliner, looked sadly at the newest offering and moaned, “Do I REALLY have to wear this?”

That’s the good news, sports fans. Even IF your current owner loses his marbles (I’m looking at you, H. Wayne Huizenga), someone will be along eventually to return your club – and its’ duds – to some semblance of normalcy – and pride… except those poor Islander fans, of course.

Hang in there, guys. Maybe the ghost of Pat Patriot will ride to the rescue.

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10 Responses to The Rise and Fall of the “Bay State” Patriots

  1. KMC says:

    Great post Mark!

  2. I had heard the name change was because the harness track next to where Foxboro Stadium was built was named Bay State Raceway.

  3. Victor Perez says:

    They’ve been Boston Patriots all right, but their “Bay State Patriots” alter ego lasted for only a couple months. If Major League Soccer existed in the late 60s to early 70s, then there will be Boston Revolution changing its name to New England Revolution.

  4. Dennis says:

    I’ve always thought the pats’ current logo would be great with a redo of the abrupt, awkward change from blue to red….that straight line relates to nothing

  5. b says:

    kiss my A partoits

  6. Ryan says:

    Hey Chris, i’m really interested about seeing the other options from 1992-1993 when the patriots moved to their current logo. have you or anyone else seen the other options that were on the table.

  7. Drew says:

    I’m curious which team you’re referencing with Huizenga? He sold the Panthers a decade ago (in 2001, before they switched to blue full-time), he sold the Marlins about the same time (1999, LONG before they dropped teal and switched to the Miami Marlins hideousness) and the Dolphins have never had a horrific uniform (the orange is a bit bright, but as an alternate it’s not bad at all) or changed their name.

    Since I think you’re referencing the Miami Marlins, the name should read “Jeffrey Loria”, who bought the team in 2002 from John Henry (now the owner of the Boston Red Sox).

  8. Mark says:

    Hey Drew!

    I actually was referencing the Panthers’ original unis, (something Chris is going to hate on me for) AND the original Marlins teal.
    I know, I know, it’s Miami, and fashion sensibilities are different down there, but watching any Miami team but the Heat has hurt my eyes for decades.

    Since we’re on the subject, I’m not entirely sold on the new Panthers blues either – too similar to the Penguins’ alternates for me.

    However, it’s important to note that you’re right – the biggest fashion offender in Miami sports history, jai alai aside, is Loria. Those new unis…maybe we should call them “ew”nis.


  9. Mark says:

    KMC – thanks! Appreciate the feedback.

    Ray – There was some reference to the racetrack when I was doing the article – it’s always nice to hear from locals or longtime fans who can add to my research!

    Thanks, guys – I appreciate the commentary. Let Chris know if you have anything you’d like to hear more about – I am at his beck and call. 🙂

  10. Drew says:


    I can get not liking the Marlins teal (the mid/late-90s look with black sleeves and teal pinstripes is my favorite and I think a great use of teal), but the Panthers’ original jerseys? Those were classic. The double-blue jersey that the Panthers wear (note: I did not say “Panthers jersey”) is NOT something that the organization should ever have aligned itself with, which is why it’s going away for the traditional reds (which look very nice).

    The “JetBlue” jerseys (as they’re called) are not from the Huizenga ownership, by the way. I don’t even think the navy alternates from 10 years ago were a Huizenga-owned jersey.

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