When I created this timeline of the history of current baseball teams for my blog, When The What, I found the task more complicated than I initially imagined. The origins of Major League Baseball are, as origins tend to be, cluttered with false starts, failures and infighting. Competition for players, stature and profits between different clubs and leagues (The National Association, The Western League, The American Association) meant play was inconsistent and teams were ever-changing.
In a move toward stability, the National League formed in 1876 with eight teams. Within five years, six of them had folded. The league replaced them. By 1901, the American League formed with its own eight teams that evolved from the minor Western League. But these were not the National and American Leagues we know today -- part of the same unified organization. They fought fiercely for players and battled in the courtroom. The World Series was played for the first time in 1903, but not in 1904: The Giants refused to recognize the major league status of the American League.
But things got straightened out. Teams moved, more got added, and names changed, leading to the 30 teams of today's Major League Baseball. This timeline was my attempt to visually tell that story. And here are a few of the interesting highlights:
-In the 1950s, out of fear of being associated with communism, the Cincinnati Reds temporarily changed their team's name to the Redlegs.
-When baseball was to expand in 1961, Minnesota was granted a team. The owners of the Washington Senators asked if instead, they could move their team to Minnesota. Their request was granted and D.C. was then awarded a shiny, new Washington Senators team. Eleven years later, they left for Texas.
-The Astros were originally called the Colt .45s.
-Along with the Expos, Padres and Royals, an expansion team was awarded to Seattle in 1969. The Seattle Pilots would play only one problematic, poorly-attended season before moving to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. Seattle was awarded the Mariners (who would play in the much more suitable Kingdome) just seven years later.
-One of the eight original 1901 American League teams was the Baltimore Orioles. After just two years, they left for New York and became what is now the Yankees. Baltimore would wait 51 years for another major league team, when the Browns moved from St Louis to become today's Orioles.
-Until 2000, when they merged into a single MLB organization, the National League and American League were two legally separate entities.
-Brooklyn's NL team, the Bridegrooms, changed their name to the Superbas the same year (1899) St Louis changed its name from the Browns to the Perfectos. Superba. Perfecto.