Friday, January 29, 2010

History Of MLB Franchise Movement & Expansion

As I said this morning, I don't think the Rays are going anywhere. That the Rays need a new park isn't news; they first floated a proposal for a new St. Petersburg park nearly two years ago. They'll either get a new park in the Tampa/St. Pete area, or move a couple hours up the road to Orlando.

But using Tampa Bay, one of the two most recent MLB expansion franchises, as a jumping off point, it's interesting to look at the history of franchise movement and expansion in Major League Baseball, and see really how interconnected it is.
  • Tampa Bay was awarded an expansion franchise in 1995 as part of the fall out from MLB blocking the San Francisco Giants from moving to St. Petersburg after the 1992 season.
  • The Giants, of course, moved to San Francisco from New York after the 1957 season. That same year the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles. As a result, New York was awarded a National League expansion franchise for 1962 to replace the departed teams. If the Rays were to move to New Jersey or Southern Connecticut it would give metro-NYC three MLB clubs for the first time since the Giants and Dodgers called New York home.
  • The Giants considered a move to Toronto in the 1970s, but eventually backed out, and Toronto was awarded the Blue Jays as an expansion franchise for 1977. In the early 80s the Giants investigated a move to the south Bay. As a result, San Jose became considered part of their territory. That decision is currently blocking the A's, the only other club currently actively seeking relocation, from building a new a ball park there.
  • The A's of course, started out in Philadelphia. They moved to Kansas City after the 1954 season, then left KC for Oakland after the 1967 season. As a result, KC was awarded the Royals as an expansion franchise for 1969.
  • The AL's other expansion franchise in 1969 were the Seattle Pilots. After just one season, they moved to Milwaukee where they became the Brewers. The original Milwaukee Brewers played in the AL in 1901, then moved to St. Louis, where they became the Browns. The Browns left St. Louis for Baltimore after 1953, and became the Orioles. The original Baltimore Orioles played in the AL in 1901 and 1902, then left for New York where they became the Highlanders, and later the Yankees. Meanwhile, Seattle received a new club in 1977 when the AL added the expansion Mariners.
  • In between the two Brewer ball clubs, Milwaukee was home to the Braves from 1952 to 1965. Prior to that the Braves played in Boston and have now called Atlanta home for fourty four seasons. Atlanta's current Spring Training home is in Orlando, which of course is a potential new home for the Rays, and according to a completely baseless rumor, the Brewers.
  • If the Rays or the A's were to move, it would be the first time an MLB club relocated since the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season. Not only did that move return Major League Baseball to our nation's capital for the first time since 1971, it was also the first franchise relocation since the Washington Senators left to become the Texas Rangers in 1972. Those Senators were a 1961 expansion franchise to replace the original Washington Senators, one of the AL's founding franchises, who left after the 1960 season to become the Minnesota Twins. The Twins will open brand new Target Field for the start of the 2010 season, and it will be MLB's newest ballpark until either the Rays or the A's get a new home.
If history is any indication, if the Tampa Bay area or Oakland were to lose their club, they stand a good chance to get another at some point in the future.


  1. The Marlins are building a new park that will be done long before the A's or Rays get a new stadium.

  2. You're absolutely right Anon, forgot about that one.