Five for Friday: Five Migrations in Baseball History

As the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays prepare
for the final games of the 2008 World Series, we’re reminded of how geography
plays a fun role in the Great American Sport. Often state lines aren’t as important as regional divides or city-pride for
any sports fan and create a new U.S. geography that can’t quite be mapped.

Place is definitely important in sports when we look at the
rare times in history that U.S. (and Canadian!) baseball teams have re-located, creating some very angry and
bitter fans in the process. This week’s Five for Friday highlights five major team
re-locations in baseball history… and can possibly shed some light on some current
rivalries between places!


1902— The Milwaukee Brewers became the
St. Louis Browns in one of the first team relocations.

1903— The original Baltimore Orioles became the New York Highlanders, and then
the Yankees. Ask a Baltimore fan about the Yankees,
and you’ll get an earful for a number of reasons. Could this bitterness have started in 1903??

1955— The Philadelphia Athletics moved
to Kansas City…and then 13 years later to Oakland, California.


1958— New York
Giants became the San Francisco Giants, and one of the first Major League teams
on the West Coast. Quite a big move!

1961— The Washington D.C. Senators
moved to the Twin Cities and became the Minnesota Twins. Even  after creating a new franchise called
the Senators, the District felt another wrench of betrayal in 1972 when the
Senators moved to Texas and became the Rangers. The capital city finally got a new team in 2005 — The
Washington Nationals.

 Turns out tracking these teams is
a great way to learn geography!

Have you or your city or region experienced a team relocation? More importantly, who are you rooting for in this
year’s World Series?

5 thoughts on “Five for Friday: Five Migrations in Baseball History

  1. Another couple: the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, and of course the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to LA in 1958

  2. Of course we don’t mind, Jake…fascinating stuff! I still vote that Oklahoma’s new team should be the Tornadoes, rather than the “Thunder.” Or better yet: The “Tumbleweeds.” More geographic specificity 🙂

  3. This is an interesting topic. Hopefully you don’t mind if I drop a little related basketball knowledge (since baseball ended tonight and basketball just got rolling). Understanding the history of several NBA franchises and geography explains why several teams have nicknames that don’t seem to make sense. For example…
    -LA Lakers (not many lakes in Southern California, but their original home was in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes).
    -Utah Jazz (Salt Lake City isn’t exactly a jazz hot spot, but they moved from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz).
    -Memphis Grizzlies (I’ve never encountered a Grizzly bear in Tennessee, but they can be found throughout Canada, where the team was founded (Vancouver)).

  4. We could make this a Google Map! Or even a Google Earth tour! I’ve always loved the geography of baseball and am still amazed at the bitter rivalries (i.e. Giants and Dodgers) that go back nearly a half century.

Leave a Reply