Before the genuine formation of Major League Baseball, teams were located in every major city in the Eastern United States, and sometimes two or three: Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C. - even smaller cities such as Louisville, Columbus, Buffalo, Hartford, and Rochester had teams. They frequently changed names, moved towns, or simply collapsed. Competition was fierce, and leagues were formed to ensure a steady source of opponents for games and to instill some regularity into the schedules.
I hope this timeline proves to be somewhat of an insight into the tumultuous general history of Major League Baseball's teams, from the short-lived experiments to the enduring success stories. mauler wants me to point out that until about 1920, most of the nicknames referenced are not official - they were fan and press monikers. As these grew in popularity (and, for the most part, stability) they were trademarked and incorporated into the team's business and marketing aspects. This explains many of the year-to-year caprices that gave birth to such teams as the Boston Doves and Chicago Orphans.
A Timeline Of The Evolution Of Major League Baseball Teams
- 1901 - With the formation of the American and National Leagues into one larger league, modern Major League Baseball as we know it is created (and is culminated in the 1903 World Series between the victors of the two leagues). Many of the teams are simply holdovers from the now defunct American and National Associations. There were 8 teams in both leagues:
The only teams to retain their names and cities to this day are the Chicago White Sox, the Detroit Tigers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
1902 - The Cleveland Blues become the Cleveland Bronchos. The same year, the Milwaukee Brewers relocate and become the St. Louis Browns. Also, the Boston Americans choose the odd-sounding Boston Somersets as their new insignia.
1903 - The Chicago Orphans (who had been named such because their Hall of Fame manager Cap Anson had abruptly retired in 1898) were officially renamed the Chicago Cubs, which they carry to this day. Also, Cleveland changes its name again, from the Bronchos to the Naps, after their player-manager Nap Lajoie. Not one to be outdone, the American League Boston team changes its name again, picking the historically inaccurate Pilgrims (although one could argue this worked out in their favor - they won the first World Series, held this year). Finally, the Baltimore Orioles ship off to New York City, becoming the New York Highlanders.
1907 - With a change in uniform, the Boston Americans/Somersets/Pilgrims finally settle on a name they have kept to this day - the Boston Red Sox. The same year, the other hometown team the Beaneaters are renamed the Doves, after the new owners the Dovey brothers.
1911 - The Brooklyn Superbas adopt a new nickname, the Brooklyn Dodgers and begin play at newly built Ebbets Field. The Dovey family sell their Doves to William H. Russell - and the Doves become, fittingly enough, the Boston Rustlers.
1913 - Apparently chagrined with their new name, the Brooklyn team returns to their original nickname, the Superbas. At the same time, the Highlanders undergo a name change, to the New York Yankees. Another change of ownership for the National League Boston team leads to another name change - the Boston Braves are named after a political organization in Tammany Hall ran by their new owner.
1914 - The flux in Brooklyn continues, as they are re-christened the Brooklyn Robins, in honor of their new manager Wilbert Robinson.
1915 - The Cleveland Naps, taking on the general stance of teams abandoning names after players (after all, that'd require a lot more name changes in the long run!), change their name permanently to the Cleveland Indians.
1932 - Showing a reverence for their past, the Brooklyn team again adopts the name the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1936 - New ownership again brings about a name change in Boston - a contest is held, and the final vote renames the Braves the Bees.
1941 - Showing little success in their new black and yellow uniforms, the Boston Bees revert back to the Boston Braves.
1943 - After a dismal season, team owner Bob Carpenter held a contest to re-name the Philadelphia Phillies. The results? The team became the Philadelphia Blue Jays.
1945 - Following an even MORE dismal season, the Blue Jays return to the original Philadelphia Phillies moniker.
1953 - As McCarthyism rises to unbelievable proportions, the Cincinnati Reds choose to avoid controversy by re-naming themselves the Cincinnati Red Stockings, an homage to the old Boston team of the same name. Also, Lou Parenti, owner of the Boston Braves, relocates the team to Milwaukee to escape competition at the turnstiles from the Red Sox.
1954 - Unable to remain financially solvent, the St. Louis Browns are sold to a syndicate from Baltimore, who move the team there and name them the Orioles, in honor of the state bird and the Major League's first team in the city (who since had become the New York Yankees.)
1955 - The legendary Connie Mack passes away; his estate sells his Philadelphia Athletics, who are moved to Kansas City.
1958 - With the New York Yankees dominating the hometown market, both the Dodgers and the Giants head for greener pastures; the Dodgers end up in Los Angeles and the Giants in San Francisco.
1959 - With McCarthyism fully under wraps, the Red Stockings resume operation as the Cincinnati Reds.
1961 - The first team to be added in 60 years to the annals of Major League Baseball is the Los Angeles Angels, parlaying the new major market of Los Angeles into a two-team town with the Dodgers. Also, in an interesting move, the Washington Senators relocate over the winter to Minneapolis, becoming the Minnesota Twins; at the same time, another coalition of businessmen in the D.C. area arise and purchase an expansion team for the city - which they promptly name the Senators.
1962 - Major League Baseball expands again, adding the Houston Colt .45's and the New York Mets (short for "Metropolitans") to the National League.
1965 - In a gesture to help support the newfound NASA Space Center in Houston, the team renames itself the Houston Astros. Also, attempting to avoid confusion, the Angels rename themselves the California Angels and move to a new stadium in Anaheim, California, just outside of Los Angeles.
1966 - Again looking for greener pastures, the Milwaukee Braves make their 2nd move - this time, to Atlanta, where they remain to this day.
1968 - With the move of the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland, the idea that baseball is a Northeast sport only completely vanishes: it truly has become the national pastime.
1969 - In a first, Major League Baseball welcomes a team to the league from outside America's borders - the Montreal Expos move into the National League West. The San Diego Padres, Seattle Pilots, and Kansas City Royals are also welcomed into the league.
1970 - The owners of the Seattle Pilots reveal they don't have the liquid assets they claimed to have had; the team is quickly sold and relocated to Milwaukee, taking on the name of the first team of the city (from 1901) - the Milwaukee Brewers.
1972 - The all-NEW Washington Senators last only ten seasons; again they are relocated to spread Major League Baseball's influence, this time to the South to become the Texas Rangers. (Thus the answer to the trivia question, "Which team is the only one to move twice from the same city?")
1977 - Continuing the booming expansion of the Major League Baseball that saw 11 teams added in 16 years, the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners begin play.
1993 - The Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins are added to the National League, making 28 teams in total.
1997 - The California Angels are purchased by the Walt Disney Corporation and are renamed the Anaheim Angels, to complement the Disney-owned NHL team the Mighty Ducks.
1998 - The Arizona Diamondbacks joined the National League, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays joined the AL, bringing the number of teams to 30, its current total. In the same year, the Milwaukee Brewers changed leagues, moving into the National League Central.
2001 - After 40 years of virtually unabated expansion, the cup had finally runneth over: Major League Baseball began serious talks about contraction. Two likely candidates emerged: the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos, who both suffered from attendance and revenue problems, according to Commissioner Bud Selig. Eventually, Major League Baseball purchased the Montreal Expos from its owners, and put Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in charge of its operations. Although to date neither team has been contracted, they both still loom under the watchful eye of the MLB.
2004 - After talks of contraction withered, Major League Baseball finally decided to move the Montreal Expos. They had played several home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but they were officially announced to move to Washington, D.C., where they will be known as the Washington Nationals. This gives them the nickname the Nats, which is also the old nickname of the Senators. And, in a strange confluence of politics and greed, the Anaheim Angels renamed themselves to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team said the name change is to give them a cut of the large Los Angeles market; opponents said it was crass and violated the team's stadium agreement. Ultimately the team prevailed, though you have to admit the name is fairly silly.
Please /msg me with any errata, addenda, and cool info about your favorite team that I may have missed