I started out by thinking it would be cool to take a look at how the “original” sixteen American and National League franchises were represented on a US map, and how those teams had relocated. But, to be perfectly honest, the result wasn’t all that thrilling. Only three teams in each league (SF, LA, and Atlanta in the NL; and Baltimore, Minnesota, and Oakland in the AL) played in different cities in 1903 than they will in 2016. With that in mind, that map only would have been marginally improved by using the format I chose for this newer one.
Each division has its own color on this one. I didn’t get too detailed–that is, in cities with only one franchise since 1901 (e.g. Denver, Phoenix, Miami, etc.), I didn’t get too specific with the pin’s location. For others–particularly New York and, surprisingly, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.–I elected to place the city’s current franchise’s pin on its stadium, and leave the others at the city center so that, at least from a distance, there is the appearance of more than one club having played in said town.
And speaking of those three cities, while it is fairly common knowledge that New York has had like a bazillion (okay, four) baseball teams, you might be surprised to learn that Milwaukee and Washington have each been home to three big league clubs since 1901. The former hosted the original Brewers (now the Orioles) in 1901; followed by the Braves for thirteen seasons from ’53-’65; and the current iteration of the Brewers since 1970–a total of sixty seasons (with 1 title, in 1957) of big league ball.
Washington, meanwhile, hosted the original Senators (now the Twins) for sixty seasons alone, until 1960; then the expansion Senators (now the Rangers) for another 11 years immediately thereafter; and the Nationals (formerly the Expos) since 2005–82 seasons (and 0 championships) in all.
A few other things stand out to me:
- Montreal is the only metropolitan area that has been home to an AL or NL franchise since 1901 (27 in all, if you count Baltimore and Washington separately) that is currently without one.
- You’d think, since MLB has generally expanded westward over its history, that the respective east divisions would have the least amount of relocation activity (or, perhaps, as much as the central divisions). Instead, four of the ten AL and NL East teams have called other metro areas home, same as the AL and NL West; only two have done likewise in the AL and NL Central.
- The Giants’ move from Upper Manhattan to San Francisco is the longest distance any team has traveled in relocating since 1901; the A’s hop-skip-and-jump from Philly to KC to Oakland is about 40 miles shorter.
- The shortest distance in the approximately 180 miles the original (at least to the AL) Baltimore Orioles traveled to New York to become the Highlanders (now Yankees).
- Downtown Cincinnati is directly between St. Louis and Baltimore, as the crow flies.