Founding General Manager of the New York Cosmos, Clive Toye, in conversation with Club Historian, David Kilpatrick, on the anniversary of the club's christening.
February 4th marks the anniversary of when you came up with the Cosmos name, in 1971. How did you came up with the name?
I wanted a name which was different. I wanted a name which was big, and 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 (in terms of history) 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. Some other people came up … the Erteguns wanted to call it the New York Blues and somebody else wanted to have the team wear pink uniforms and call it the New York Lovers.
Really? Oh my God!
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. And then I had the problem of convincing the ownership that that was the name. So I got a competition going and at that time I had certain relationships with people at Swissair and got them to come up with 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. I was at a board meeting of the [United States Soccer] Federation in New York and I picked up the mail and went into the meeting. It was the opening of the meeting, and there, I remember Gene Edwards [then Vice President and later President of the USSF] looking at me and saying to me, “any chance of you paying attention to the meeting now?” Opened the 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 voilà, the greatest name in the history of sport was born.
That’s right, and that is the honest truth.
[Originally published on 4 February 2013 on nycosmos.com]