10 Oldest Baseball Teams in America

Although baseball is played in several countries around the world today, it is typically known as an American sport and is even called “America’s Passtime.” While the origins of the sport come from two English games, rounders and cricket, the basis for modern baseball was formed in America during the mid-19th century. Due to this, the oldest baseball teams in the world were established in the United States in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. All of them still exist today as either a part of the National League (NL) or the American League (AL), which form Major League Baseball (MLB).

10. Minnesota Twins

Year Established: 1901
Date of Entry into MLB: 1901
Previous Name(s): Washington Senators/Nationals

Minnesota Twins photo source: Flickr

Minnesota Twins photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Minnesota Twins franchise was founded in 1901 as the Washington Senators baseball club. The newly formed American League moved from Kansas City to Washington, D.C. and the city needed a new team. Around 1905, the team changed its name from the Senators to the Nationals, but both names were used interchangeably.

The team was moved to Minnesota in 1961 and was renamed the Twins after the area’s nickname, the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis). After moving to Minnesota, the team saw success and won the American League pennant in 1965. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Twins hit another wave of success and won two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.


9. Oakland Athletics

Year Established: 1901
Date of Entry into MLB: 1901
Previous Name(s): Philadelphia Athletics; Kansas City Athletics

Oakland Athletics photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Oakland Athletics photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Oakland Athletics started out as the Philadelphia Athletics, which was formed in 1901 when the Western League was reformed as the American League, the second major league after the National League. The team started out strong and dominated the early years of the American League, winning the pennant six times.

In 1954, the Athletics were acquired by real estate magnate Arnold Johnson, who immediately relocated the team to Kansas City, Missouri. The Athletics stayed in Kansas City a little over a decade before moving to Oakland, California in 1968. The team has won nine World Series titles and has had several famous players including Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Jose Canseco, and Mark McGwire.


8. Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Established: 1883
Date of Entry into MLB: 1884
Previous Name(s): Brooklyn Atlantics; Brooklyn Grays; Brooklyn Bridegrooms; Brooklyn Grooms; Brooklyn Superbas; Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers; Brooklyn Robins; Brooklyn Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles Dodgers photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Los Angeles Dodgers franchise was initially formed in 1883 as the Brooklyn Grays, a minor-league team with the Inter-State Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. A year later, the team went professional and joined the American Association before eventually moving over to the National League in 1890.

Over the years, the team has had several official names and nicknames and eventually settled on the Dodgers in the early 1930s. In addition to being famous as a successful franchise (six World Series titles and 22 National League pennants), the team was the first to employ an African American player – due to general manager Branch Rickey’s efforts, the Dodgers hired Jackie Robinson in 1947.


7. Philadelphia Phillies

Year Established: 1883
Date of Entry into MLB: 1883
Previous Name(s): Philadelphia Quakers

Philadelphia Phillies photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia Phillies photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Shortly after the team was founded in 1883 as the “Quakers”, they changed their name to the Phillies, making the Philadelphia Phillies the oldest, continuous, one-name, as well as one-city franchise in any American professional sport. The team was formed by sporting goods manufacturer, Al Reach – who was one of the first professional baseball players – and attorney John Rogers after they were awarded a spot in the National League to replace the Worcester Brown Stockings.

The 1883 season was the worst in the franchise’s history, with only 17 wins out of 98 games (.173 percent). They were able to turn things around the following year and since then, the Phillies have won two World Series, seven National League pennants, and 11 East Division titles.


6. San Francisco Giants

Year Established: 1883
Date of Entry into MLB: 1883
Previous Name(s): New York Gothams; New York Giants

San Francisco Giants photo source: Wikimedia Commons

San Francisco Giants photo source: Wikipedia Commons

Prior to moving to San Francisco in 1958, the Giants franchise started out as the New York Gothams in 1883. The team was the second one established by millionaire tobacconist John B. Day and veteran amateur baseball player Jim Mutrie in New York – they also owned the New York Metropolitans.

According to a story that came out at the time, the team changed its name to the Giants in 1885 after Mutrie proudly called the team “My big fellows! My giants!”, following their win against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Giants moved to San Francisco after the city’s mayor, George Christopher, and Dodgers owner, Walter O’Malley, convinced the Giants’ owner, Horace Stoneham to move out west with the Dodgers.


5. Cincinnati Reds

Year Established: 1881
Date of Entry into MLB: 1882
Previous Name(s): Cincinnati Red Stockings; Cincinnati Redlegs

Cincinnati Reds photo source: Flickr

Cincinnati Reds photo source: Wikimedia Commons

According the Cincinnati Reds history, the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first all-professional team founded in 1866. While this information is true, this early Cincinnati Red Stockings team only shares a name with the earliest version of the modern franchise, which was established in 1881. The team was formed as one of the founding members of the American Association and they won the first AA pennant in 1882.

In 1889, the Red Stockings left the AA to play in the National League and first shortened their name to Reds in the 1890 season, but changed it again to the Redlegs in 1954 before returning to the Reds in 1959. The Reds have won five World Series titles, nine NL pennants, one AA pennant, and 10 division titles.


4. Pittsburgh Pirates

Year Established: 1881
Date of Entry into MLB: 1882
Previous Name(s): Allegheny; Pittsburgh Allegheneys; Pittsburg Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Pittsburgh Pirates photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The history of the Pittsburgh Pirates dates back to around October 15, 1881 when the strongest team in the area was chosen to join the American Association as a founding member and start playing in the 1882 season – the team was listed as “Allegheny” because their home field was located in Allegheny City. The Pittsburgh team was the first of the AA teams to leave and join the National League in 1887.

The team played in the first World Series in 1903 and won their first championship in 1909. Over the years, the Pirates have had their ups and downs – winning five World Series, but also struggling with 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 – 2012, which is the longest losing streak for any North American sports team.


3. St. Louis Cardinals

Year Established: 1882
Date of Entry into MLB: 1882
Previous Name(s): St. Louis Brown Stockings; St. Louis Browns; St. Louis Perfectos

St. Louis Cardinals photo source: Flickr

St. Louis Cardinalsphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The current St. Louis Cardinals franchise was established in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings. Prior to this date, there were two other iterations of the St. Louis Brown Stockings baseball clubs, but due to game-fixing scandals, expulsion from the National League, and major reorganizations, these early teams only have a loose connection to the Cardinals.

Before the start of the 1882, Chris von der Ahe purchased St. Louis’ team, reorganized it, and made it the first team of the American Association in order to challenge the National League teams. The team changed its name to the Cardinals in 1900 and today, it is one of the most successful baseball franchises – they have won 11 World Series championships, the second-most in MLB.


2. Chicago Cubs

Year Established: 1871
Date of Entry into MLB: 1876
Previous Name(s): Chicago White Stockings; Chicago Colts; Chicago Orphans

Chicago Cubs photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Chicago Cubs photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Chicago Cubs are another team that says it is the oldest in the MLB, however their claims are often disputed. Although the origins of the Cubs dates back to around 1871 with the formation of the Chicago White Stockings, the team did not play for the next two years due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The Chicago White Stockings were one of the first teams to join the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players and also one of the first teams of the National League, which replaced the National Association in 1876. The team has always played for Chicago and went through a few name changes before settling on the Cub in 1903.


1. Atlanta Braves

Year Established: 1871
Date of Entry into MLB: 1876
Previous Name(s): Boston Red Stockings; Boston Red Caps; Boston Beaneaters; Boston Doves; Boston Rustlers; Boston Braves; Boston Bees; Milwaukee Braves

Atlanta Braves photo source: Flickr

Atlanta Braves photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although there is some debate over which team is the oldest in Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves are often considered the oldest continually operating baseball team in America. The team was established in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings and it was one of the eight charter teams of the National League, which was established in 1876. They played and won the very first game of the National League on April 22, 1876.

The Red Stockings stayed in Boston until 1952 and moved to Milwaukee in 1953 and changed the team’s name to the Milwaukee Braves – while the team was in Boston, it went through several name changes and settled on the Braves in 1941. In 1966, the team moved for a final time to Atlanta, where it has remained.

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend