The St. Louis Cardinals of the 1930’s got the nickname “Gashouse Gang” while in New York City to play the Yankees. The Gashouse District in NYC is located on Manhattans Lower East Side and had several large gas tanks in it. The area usually had a foul smell and the neighborhood was filled with drunks and unruly people along with plenty of vagrants.
The New York sportswriters stuck the term to the visiting Cardinals team because they arrived to play in their uniforms, that were used a few days early and hadn’t been taken off, that were rain soak after games in Boston. They had no extra uniforms and many times were not cleaned before they were used again. Even when they were clean they tended to have some spots on them in several areas.
The players were not in the best shape as many didn’t shave, some didn’t bathe and most preferred to chew tobacco and spit all over. Continually the played stupid pranks on each other like juveniles and spoke with a Southern accent. Many of them used improper English when speaking to people. However, the country took notice of their baseball abilities and were fascinated with them.
They were seen as a definite contrast to the uppity Yankees.