Naming Babies in a New York State of Mind

It was noted on Monday that Brooklyn was the nation’s 34th most popular name for baby girls in 2010, even though it failed to make the top 100 in New York.

Nationwide, 6,068 baby girls and 86 boys were named Brooklyn, 8,357 if you count the variants Brooklynn (2,173) and Brooklynne (116), according to the Social Security Administration. (The name was particularly hot in some of the country’s least Brooklynian precincts: No. 6 in Utah and both Dakotas. New Yorkers did not return the favor. Dakota — No. 287 nationwide — did not crack the top 100 here, either.)

All of this got City Room thinking about the prevalence of other New York-centric names, specifically those not aided by association with supermodels or Spice Girls.

The city’s other boroughs, for example, did not fare so well nationwide. Staten did not make Social Security’s full list, which includes every name given to at least five babies (although 15 girls were named Island). Neither did Queens (although 67 infants were named Queen).

Bronx (without the “The”) was a distant second in borough-named babies, with 105 — all males, perhaps owing to the borough’s gritty reputation. The name Manhattan, considerably less gritty, was bestowed upon seven babies in 2010, all female. Harlem actually performed better than most boroughs, with 105 boys and 30 girls given that name last year. None (or at least fewer than five) were named Dumbo or Lower East Side.

Turning to sports, Americans appear slightly less apt to name their children after New York sports stars than boroughs and neighborhoods. Almost 15 years after George Costanza insisted his friends name their son Seven, after Mickey Mantle — and in 2010, 104 were actually named Seven, but perhaps more for luck than to honor the Yankee legend — 47 baby boys were named Jeter, in honor of the more recent Yankee great.

Jeter’s numbers have been climbing fairly steadily over the years. The 2010 tally might have been aided by the Yankees 2009 World Series win. The numbers show no strong correlation between the fluctuations in Derek Jeter’s batting average and home run totals and babies named after him the following year (perhaps endorsement income would be a better proxy):

But as sportswriters have been asking lately, has Jeter passed his peak? The 11-time All-Star hit .270 last year, his lowest full-season average yet, and is off to a .260 start this year. The answer will arrive with next year’s baby-name list.

As for the man who wore No. 7, the name Mickey was given just 63 times in 2010, down from 944 times in 1957, the year after Mantle led the Yankees to a World Series title. More Yankee slugger stats: in 1962, after Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s long-held single-season home run record, 12 boys and 6 girls were named Maris nationwide. (Maris one-bested Ruth in more ways than one that year; in 1928, a year after the Great Bambino whacked 60 home runs, 11 boys were named Babe.)

It’s hard to say other New York City sports stars have had the same kind of reach onto birth certificates. Even in 2009, after the Giants won the Super Bowl, Plaxico missed the list. As for Amar’e and Carmelo? Wait till next year.

You can spend likely way too much time looking at popular baby names at the Social Security Administration’s Web site.

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