The following story is from the book Full Spectrum, written by Jay Greenberg...
On July 12, 1966 one of the Philadelphia hockey franchise owners (Bill) Putnam announced a contest to give the team a name. Naturally there had been no shortage of ideas. “Quakers” and “Ramblers” were two traditional suggestions, but (Ed) Snider saw that the Philadelphia Quakers, that sorry NHL entry of 1930-31, remained in the league record book with a half-share of the mark for the fewest victories in a season. He and Putnam wanted a fresh identification. They also feared that the name Ramblers could conjure old images of the seedy minor-league team and the Arena. People had to be made to understand that this was a new, major-league, team playing in a modern, comfortable building.
In early correspondence, Putnam had proposed the names Lancers, Raiders, Royals, Knights and Sabres. Liberty Bells also held some intrigue, but there was already a harness track in Philadelphia by that name and besides, “Liberty Bells” would not connote action or strength, only history. Huskies, Blizzards, and Icecaps, Bashers, Bruisers, and Keystones were all suggested.
But Putnam and Snider don’t remember anything grabbing them until one night on the New jersey Turnpike when Snider, his wife, his sister Phyllis and her husband Earl Foreman, and the Putnam’s stopped at a Howard Johnson’s, ordered from the list of twenty-eight flavors, and kicked around some similar number of names.
On their way home after seeing a Broadway show, they were looking for a stopper name for their hockey team. “I was thinking of people skating and sliding around the ice,” Phyllis recalls, “and the ‘Flyers’ just popped into my head. Everybody thought it was great.”
The “Philadelphia Flyers” had alliterative pizzazz, conveyed motion and excitement, and was short enough to fit into newspaper headlines. Snider told Phyllis, “That’s the name, but you can’t win the contest.” Flyers, it would be.
The contest ran for ten days in July. More than 11,000 entries were submitted, including Ice picks, Acmes, Philly-Billies, Greenbacks, Scars, and Strips and Croaking Crickets. Liberty Bell and Quakers got the most votes, but Flyers, of course, got the only votes that counted. On August 3, the team announced its new name at an outdoor conference at the arena construction site.
Alec Stockard, a 9-year-old boy from Narberth, one of the untold numbers of entrants who had submitted the name “Flyers,” won the television in a drawing conducted by Putnam. However, Stockard had spelled it “Fliers.” None of the teams founders recall why the second dictionary spelling of the word-with a “y” instead of an “i”-was chosen.
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