Major League Baseball's oldest teams

There are eight teams that have been playing in the same city while using the same name continuously for at least 100 years Photo: Detroit's Ty Cobb/AP

LOS ANGELES, July 29, 2013 — Many MLB franchises have been around for at least 100 years while residing in multiple cities and using various names. In honor of its 100th article, Wells On Baseball takes a look at the eight teams that have been playing in the same city while using the same name continuously for at least 100 years.

The oldest franchise that meets this criteria is the Philadelphia Phillies. The team started out in 1883 and were named, “The Quakes,” after the Quakers who lived in Pennsylvania. The team soon became known as the “Philadelphias” and then shortened that to “Phillies.” The name was not officially changed to “Phillies,” however, until 1890. From 1943 through 1948, new owners unofficially tried to change the name to “Blue Jays,” but that did not stick and the team never officially changed their name.


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The Detroit Tigers have been known as such since 1894. In fact, they have never been known as anything other than the “Tigers” and have never played anywhere other than Detroit.

The St. Louis Cardinals have not always been the “Cardinals,” but they have been since 1900. The franchise began in St. Louis as the “Brown Stockings” in 1882. That name was shortened to “Browns” in 1883. For one season in 1899, the St. Louis franchise played under the moniker, “Perfectos.” The following year they became the “Cardinals.”

Cap Anson/AP

The Chicago Cubs were born in 1870 as the “White Stockings.” This name remained until 1890 when the name was changed to “Colts.” In 1898, after the Colts released 22 year veteran, Cap Anson, the team was known as the “Orphans.” Four years later, Jim Hart purchased the team from Albert Spalding, the same Spalding who started the sporting goods empire that exists still today. Hart changed the name to the “Cubs” for the 1903 season.


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The Chicago White Sox began as a minor league franchise in Sioux City, Iowa as the “Cornhuskers.” Charles Comiskey bought the team and moved them to St. Paul, Minn., where they were known as the “Saints” from 1895 through 1899. The next year they were permitted to move to Chicago and changed their name to “White Stockings” in 1900. Newspapers starting referring to them as the “White Sox” in 1901, but the official name change did not come until 1904.

The Boston Red Sox have only had one official name. They were unofficially known as the “Americans” from their beginning in 1901 until after the 1907 season. In 1908, owner John I. Taylor decided to officially name the team, “Red Sox,” and a nation was born.

In 1882, the Pittsburgh Pirates joined the American Association as the “Alleghanys.” In response to what the Philadelphia Athletics thought was a shady move, the Alleghanys changed their name to the “Pirates,” but not the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburg Pirates. The city was forced by the U.S. government to drop the “h” from their name. The “h” made a comeback, however, in 1911. Thanks to this technicality, the “Pittsburgh Pirates” have only been known officially as such since 1912.

The New York Yankees barely made the cut for this list. They have not always been known as the “Yankees” and they have not always been in New York City either. The franchise was actually started in Baltimore and was known as the “Orioles” in 1901. After two seasons in Baltimore, the franchise moved to the Big Apple. Once in New York, the team started going by the name, “Highlanders,” partly due to their stadium’s location atop one of the highest areas in the city. The name “Yankees” and “Yanks” had been used by papers during this time due to space. When they moved into the Polo Grounds in 1913, they were no longer high up, but down near the Harlem River. The team dropped “Highlanders” and officially became the “Yankees.”


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Two teams deserve honorable mention, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians. Cincinnati started playing as the “Reds” in Cincinnati in 1890. Unfortunately, from 1953 through 1958, they officially changed their name to the “Redlegs.” The name was rightfully changed back to “Reds” in 1958, but those six years were enough to keep them from the list. The Cleveland Indians have played with that name in Cleveland since 1915, which leaves them two years shy of making the list.

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music for The Washington Times Communities. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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