No definitive answers exists, but there is speculation that it borrows from the Civil War connotaion of the term “Yankee,” in that the team played north of their counterparts, the New York Giants. The Yankees‘ other early nicknames, Hilltoppers and Highlanders, similarly drew upon geographic inspiration, but from the location of the team’s first field, Hilltop Park, in Washington Heights.
What were the NY Yankees originally called?
After around 12 years, the team was officially named the New York Yankees. Although, they had already moved their base to New York City in 1903, after solving the dispute with the NL team. However, the team was known as the New York Highlanders.