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Major League Baseball (MLB) is the uppermost tier of professional baseball in the United States. MLB is made up of 30 teams divided into two leagues, the National League and the American League, and each league is split into three divisions. The regular baseball season runs from April through September with teams competing mostly against other teams from their own league1. In October the top team from each division and a Wild Card2 team play for the league title, and the league champs from each league play the World Series.
The National League was formed in 1876 and carried 8 teams, including the Chicago White Stockings, the Boston Red Stockings, the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the St Louis Browns, as well as teams in Philadelphia, New York, Hartford (Connecticut), and Louisville (Kentucky). Some of these original teams remain, some have moved to different cities or changed names, some have disappeared completely to be replaced by other teams. From its inception the National League only ever carried 8 teams at any time until 1961 when the first expansion was announced. Over the years there have been five expansions adding fourteen teams to both major leagues in balance. The National League is now double its original size with 16 teams on the roster.
The first professional baseball game3 was played on 1 June 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings beat the Mansfield Independents 48-14. Seven years later the Red Stockings became one of 8 charter teams in the newly formed National League. Only a few of these original 8 remain today.
Just a note: as this entry concerns a living entity the information will gradually become out of date as teams move around, expansions are announced, and World Series are won each year. Updates will be made when possible.
The Atlanta Braves were created in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings, a member of the National Association4. In 1883 the club changed it's name to the Boston Beaneaters, then later the Doves and the Rustlers before officially settling on Braves in 1911. For a brief period (1936-1940) they were known as the Boston Bees, but returned to the name Braves in the end, which they have remained to this day. They did not, however, remain in Boston. In 1953 the team moved to Milwaukee, and in 1966 from Milwaukee to Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves play at home on Turner Field. In their first one hundred thirty years of existence the Braves have won the World Series only once.
The Florida Marlins were part of the 1993 expansion. Prior to their arrival in Miami, southern Florida's only encounters with the major leagues were hosting spring training camps and exhibition games, the climate being ideal for early season activity. The Marlins play in Pro Player Stadium in Miami. They have won the World Series twice, both times from the "wild card" position.
The Philadelphia Phillies may have started out as the Worcester Ruby Legs. The Ruby Legs played in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1880, but by 1882 had disbanded. Philadelphia took their place on the National League roster but carried none of the players, managers, or owners of the previous team. Since 1883, however, the Phillies have become the oldest continuous team with a single name in one city in all of American professional sports. Until 2003 the team played in Veterans Stadium, 2004 inauguates the new Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are tied with the Braves and the Marlins for World Series wins.
The Montreal Expos were born of the 1969 expansion. So named for Expo '67, the Montreal World Fair, the Expos were the first major league team located outside the United States. They play in Olympic Stadium which was built for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. Montreal has never won a World Series.
The New York Mets were originally intended to be a charter team for a new pro league, the Continental League. This new league never saw a game played and disbanded in 1960. The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club (as it is more formally known) entered the National League in the first major league expansion for the 1962 season. The Mets call Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York, their home, and they have won two World Series titles.
The Chicago Cubs were originally known as the Chicago White Stockings in 1874 when they were one of the charter National League teams. Along with the Boston Red Stockings they were memebers of the National Association prior to the formation of the National League. In 1902 the White Stockings were officially renamed the Cubs, and in 1914 their home turf Wrigley Field was opened, now the second oldest venue in the Major Leagues. Despite being one of the oldest fields, Wrigley didn't have electric lighting until 1988, prior to that games could only be played in the afternoon at Wrigley. The Cubs have won the World Series twice.
The Houston Astros began in 1962 as the Houston Colt 45's. When Houston was awarded a team in the '62 expansion they began construction on a stadium for them. Due to the extreme summer temperatures in Texas it was decided that the venue needed to be enclosed for the comfort of fans and players. In 1965 the ballpark was opened, the same year the team was renamed the Astros to reflect Houston's role in the American space program. The new park was then named the Astrodome, and baseball was played indoors for the first time. One problem encountered with a completely enclosed playing ground is that they couldn't grow grass on the field. The solution was to install artificial turf which was designed specifically for the Astrodome. They called this new turf Astroturf. In 2000 the Astros left the Astrodome behind for the new Minute Maid Park. The Astros have never won a World Series.
The St Louis Cardinals started out as the St Louis Browns, but not the same Browns that later played in the American League. In 1880 the Browns entered the National League, but only stayed for two years before leaving to join the American Association. In 1892 the Browns returned to the National League, and in 1899 officially changed their name to the Perfectos. In 1900 the name was changed again to the St Louis Cardinals for the cardinal red color of their uniforms, and in 1911 the team became the first to be owned by a woman, Helene Hathaway Britton, who inherited the team from her father. The most successful team in the National League, the Cardinals have won 9 World Series titles. They play at Busch Stadium, but are currently developing plans for a new park.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were first known in 1882 as the Pittsburgh Alleghenies due to their proximity to the Allegheny River and the Allegheny mountains. They competed in the American Association from 1882 to 1887 and in the National League in 1889. In 1890 they became the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were host to the first major league game to be broadcast on the radio in which they beat the Phillies 8-5 in 1921. PNC Park is the Pirates' home field, they have won the World Series five times.
The Cincinnati Reds are the oldest team in professional baseball. The Cincinnati Red Stockings participated in the first all pro baseball game in 1869, and were one of the first teams to join the National League. In 1880 they were expelled from the league and joined the American Association from 1882 to 1889. In 1889 they were readmitted to the National League, and later shortened their name to the Reds. The first televised baseball game in 1939 pitted the Reds against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Reds play at The Great American Ballpark, they have won five World Series titles.
The Milwaukee Brewers started out in the American League as the Seattle Pilots. The Pilots were part of the 1969 expansion but only played one season in Seattle before being bought and moved to Milwaukee. In their new city they were renamed the Brewers as a reflection on Milwaukee's history in beer and brewing. After 29 seasons in the American League the team was moved to the National League in a realignment of the majors to make an even number of teams on each league. The Brewers play in Miller Park and have never won the World Series.
The San Francisco Giants began on the eastern coast as the New York Gothams in 1883. The name Gothams was dropped in favor of Giants in 1886 and they remained in New York until declining attendance and the impending loss of their stadium prompted them to look for a new home. In 1958 the Giants played their first game in San Francisco. Pacific Bell Park on the water's edge is home of the Giants, where a homer hit just right will go over the wall and splash in the water of McCovey Cove. Boaters will sometimes anchor in the cove in hopes of recovering a ball. The Giants have won the World Series five times, but not since moving to the west coast.
The Los Angeles Dodgers also started on the east coast in Brooklyn, New York, as the Atlantics in 1872. In 1890 they were called the Bridegrooms when several players got married around the same time. Later the team was nicknamed for it's coaches: Ward's Wonders, Foutz's Fillies, and Hanlon's Superbas, before settling on Trolley Dodgers, a reference to Brooklyn's sometimes erratic trolley cars. Trolly was eventually dropped and the team has been known as the Dodgers ever since. The Brooklyn team belonged to the American Association from 1884 to 1889 before joining the National League in 1890. In 1947 the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the Major Leagues, the first winner of the Rookie of the Year award, and who would go on to become the first black player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. When the Dodgers were unable to build a new stadium in New York they started looking to relocate. The Giants' management helped convince them to consider the west coast so the teams could continue their longtime rivalry, and the Dodgers went to Los Angeles around the same time the Giants went to San Francisco. The Dodgers have won the World Series six times, only one of which was for Brooklyn. They play at Dodger Stadium.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were part of the 1998 major league expansion. Four seasons later they became the quickest expansion team in major league history to win the World Series title5. The Diamondbacks get their name from diamondback rattlesnakes which are common in their hometown of Phoenix. Their home field is Bank One Ballpark.
The Colorado Rockies entered the National League with the 1993 expansion. Named for their location in the Rocky Mountains, the Rockies were the first professional team to use purple as a team color on their official uniforms. In their inaugural year the Rockies set an attendance record with 4,483,350 fans in attendance for the season, due largely to the fact that they were playing in Mile High Stadium until their own park was finished. As a football venue Mile High had a larger capacity than a baseball park. With no World Series wins to their credit, the Rockies now play on Coors Field in Denver.
The San Diego Padres were created in the 1969 expansion. The Padres nearly moved to Washington DC five years later, but remained in San Diego when the team was purchased by Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, who owned them until his death in 1984. As of 2004 thier home field is PETCO Park which replaces QualCom Stadium. Their one bid for the World Series was unsuccessful.
World Series Contests
The first World Series was played in 1903 just three seasons after the American League was formed. It was a best-of-nine contest between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Pilgrims with the Pilgrims coming out on top. In the first one hundred years of World Series' the National League teams won 40 titles to the American League's 58. There were no World Series games played in 1904 due to a dispute between team owners, nor in 1994 because of the players' strike. Since 1905 the series has been a best-of-seven contest, with the exception of the much anticipated Cincinnati Reds/Chicago White Sox meetup in the 1919 world series which was slated to go nine (but was over in 8).