Major League Baseball (MLB) has a rich history that spans over a century.
Throughout the years, numerous teams have come and gone, but some have stood the test of time.
We’ll explore the oldest MLB teams, both past and present, and look into their fascinating stories.
The Beginnings of Major League Baseball
Before we dive into the oldest MLB teams, it is essential to understand the origins of the league itself.
The National League (NL), the oldest professional baseball league in the world, was founded in 1876.
It consisted of eight teams, including the Boston Red Stockings (now known as the Atlanta Braves), Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs), and the Cincinnati Red Stockings (now the Cincinnati Reds).
Over the years, the NL expanded, and other leagues emerged, such as the American League (AL) in 1901.
Eventually, these leagues merged to form what we now know as Major League Baseball in 1903.
This merger solidified the foundation of the sport and set the stage for the oldest MLB teams to emerge.
The Oldest MLB Teams
1. Atlanta Braves (1871)
The Atlanta Braves, originally known as the Boston Red Stockings, hold the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating professional baseball team in the United States.
Founded in 1871, they were a charter member of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), which preceded the NL.
The Braves have a storied history, with notable players like Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, and Chipper Jones gracing their ranks.
They have won three World Series titles, with their most recent victory coming in 1995.
Despite relocating from Boston to Milwaukee and finally settling in Atlanta, the Braves have maintained their legacy as one of the oldest MLB teams.
2. Chicago Cubs (1876)
The Chicago Cubs, originally known as the Chicago White Stockings, were one of the founding members of the National League in 1876.
They have a rich history and are often referred to as the “Lovable Losers” due to their long championship drought.
The Cubs’ iconic home, Wrigley Field, is the second-oldest ballpark in the MLB, adding to the team’s historical significance.
In 2016, after a 108-year championship drought, the Cubs finally broke the curse and won the World Series.
3. Cincinnati Reds (1881)
The Cincinnati Reds, originally known as the Cincinnati Red Stockings, were one of the first professional baseball teams in the United States.
You could also argue they’re the oldest team to retain their current name in some recognizable form. (Some might mistake the Boston Red Stockings as the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Stockings as the Chicago White Sox; however, they are different franchises with different evolutionary paths.)
They were founded in 1881 and joined the American Association (AA) before becoming a part of the National League in 1890.
The Reds have had several successful periods throughout their history, winning five World Series titles.
Notable players like Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose have donned the Reds’ uniform, leaving a lasting impact on the franchise.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (1882)
The Pittsburgh Pirates, originally known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, were established in 1882.
They joined the National League in 1887 and have since become one of the oldest MLB teams still in operation.
The Pirates have a rich history, with notable players like Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell making their mark on the franchise.
They have won five World Series titles, with their most recent victory coming in 1979.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (1883)
The Philadelphia Phillies, originally known as the Philadelphia Quakers, were founded in 1883.
They joined the National League in 1883 and have remained a part of the league ever since.
The Phillies have had their fair share of ups and downs throughout their history.
However, they experienced a golden era in the late 1970s and early 1980s, winning their first World Series title in 1980. Notable players like Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton have left a lasting legacy with the Phillies.
Other Notable Oldest MLB Teams
While the aforementioned teams are the oldest MLB teams still in operation, several other franchises have a significant place in baseball history.
Here are a few notable mentions:
- San Francisco Giants (1883): Originally known as the New York Gothams, the Giants have a storied history, with legendary players like Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (1883): The Dodgers, originally known as the Brooklyn Atlantics, have a rich history and have won six World Series titles.
- St. Louis Cardinals (1882): The Cardinals are one of the most successful franchises in MLB history, with 11 World Series titles to their name.
- Baltimore Orioles (1901): The Orioles have a long history, with two separate franchises bearing the name. The current Baltimore Orioles were established in 1954 after the original team moved to New York and became the Yankees.
How It Was Named | MLB Teams
FAQs about Oldest MLB Teams (Past & Present)
1. Which is the oldest MLB team?
The Atlanta Braves, originally known as the Boston Red Stockings, are the oldest continuously operating professional baseball team in the United States.
They were founded in 1871.
2. When was Major League Baseball founded?
Major League Baseball was founded in 1903 when the National League and the American League merged.
3. How many World Series titles have the Atlanta Braves won?
The Atlanta Braves have won three World Series titles, with their most recent victory coming in 1995.
4. Who are some notable players from the Chicago Cubs?
The Chicago Cubs have had several notable players throughout their history, including Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, and Sammy Sosa.
5. How many World Series titles have the Cincinnati Reds won?
The Cincinnati Reds have won five World Series titles, with their most recent victory coming in 1990.
6. Who are some notable players from the Pittsburgh Pirates?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had several legendary players, including Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Honus Wagner.
7. When did the Philadelphia Phillies win their first World Series?
The Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series title in 1980.
8. How many World Series titles have the San Francisco Giants won?
The San Francisco Giants have won eight World Series titles, with their most recent victory coming in 2014.
9. Who are some notable players from the Los Angeles Dodgers?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had several iconic players, including Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and Clayton Kershaw.
10. How many World Series titles have the St. Louis Cardinals won?
The St. Louis Cardinals have won 11 World Series titles, the most of any National League team.
11. How many Baltimore Orioles franchises have there been?
There have been two Baltimore Orioles franchises.
The original team moved to New York and became the Yankees, while the current Baltimore Orioles were established in 1954.
12. Who are some notable players from the Baltimore Orioles?
The Baltimore Orioles have had several notable players, including Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson.
The oldest MLB teams hold a special place in the history of baseball.
From the Atlanta Braves, the oldest continuously operating professional baseball team, to the Chicago Cubs, who broke their long championship drought in 2016, these teams have left an indelible mark on the sport.
The Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Philadelphia Phillies also have rich histories and have contributed to the growth and development of Major League Baseball.
Additionally, other notable teams like the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Baltimore Orioles have their own unique stories to tell.
As the sport continues to evolve, these teams serve as a reminder of the enduring legacy of America’s pastime.