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Data Study

Cities With the Oldest Baseball Franchises

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The Major League Baseball season is in full swing again. With the NFL season still months away and the NBA and NHL playoffs just concluded, the MLB dominates the summertime calendar for fans of the “Big Four” professional sports leagues.

Is Baseball in Decline?

While baseball has the summer months to itself, in recent years sports pundits have noted signs that overall interest in the game is in decline. These commentators often cite declining television ratings for national broadcasts as a signal of baseball’s receding position in American life.

By this measure, baseball pales in comparison to the NFL’s ratings dominance and the NBA’s growing popularity with younger viewers.

But worries about baseball’s status as the national pastime miss the fact that baseball remains highly popular in local markets. MLB has far higher total in-person attendance than any other sports league due to its longer season, regularly drawing more than 70 million fans per year, and it remains a strong draw for regional TV broadcasts.

Perhaps more importantly, baseball’s long history as the oldest professional sport in the US has made MLB franchises an important part of many US cities’ social and cultural life. In baseball-obsessed places like Boston or St. Louis, the local team and the town can feel nearly synonymous.

Teams (Mostly) Stick With Their Cities

Most active teams have stayed put over the nearly 150 years of professional baseball; graph shows 21 teams originated in their current city and 9 teams relocated from another city
Source: baseball-reference.com

Professional baseball in the US dates back nearly 150 years, to the founding of the National League in 1876. Many major cities in the US have hosted one or more franchises for much of that span, and teams that are founded in one city have tended to stay there.

Of the MLB’s 30 active teams, more than two-thirds originated in the city where they now play. And even the group of franchises that have relocated include teams with long histories in their current markets, like the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

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16 of MLB's 30 active franchises are at least 120 years old; graph with visual representation of relative ages of all 30 teams
Source: baseball-reference.com

The deep ties between baseball franchises and the cities that host them are also a product of how long teams have been around. More than half of the MLB’s active franchises have existed for more than 120 years, whether in their current market or elsewhere, and only six teams are less than 50 years old.

In total, nine US cities host a franchise that is both more than a century old and has remained in the same location since its founding.

Which Cities Have the Oldest Teams?

To find the cities with the oldest baseball franchises, researchers at HotDog.com ranked US and Canadian cities according to the age of each location’s active professional baseball franchises. All professional baseball seasons since the founding of the National League in 1876 through 2022 were considered.

In the event of a tie, the location with the franchise that has accumulated more years in its current city was ranked higher. Further ties were broken by total games played, and then all-time winning percentage. The data was sourced from baseball-reference.com.

Here are the cities with the oldest baseball franchises.

Cities With the Oldest Baseball Franchises

Long exposure shot of the Oakland Coliseum exterior
Photo Credit: BTheVision / Shutterstock

15. Oakland, CA

  • Franchise age (years): 122
  • Team: Oakland Athletics
  • Year established: 1901 (Philadelphia Athletics)
  • Years in current city: 55
Minneapolis, MN
Photo Credit: IVY PHOTOS / Shutterstock

14. Minneapolis, MN

  • Franchise age (years): 122
  • Team: Minnesota Twins
  • Year established: 1901 (Washington Senators)
  • Years in current city: 62
Baltimore, MD
Photo Credit: Olivier Le Queinec / Shutterstock

13. Baltimore, MD

Boston, MA
Photo Credit: Songquan Deng / Shutterstock

12. Boston, MA

  • Franchise age (years): 122
  • Team: Boston Red Sox
  • Year established: 1901 (Boston Americans)
  • Years in current city: 122
Chicago, IL
Photo Credit: marchello74 / Shutterstock

11. Chicago, IL

  • Franchise age (years): 122
  • Team: Chicago White Sox
  • Year established: 1901 (Chicago White Sox)
  • Years in current city: 122
Cleveland, OH
Photo Credit: Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock

10. Cleveland, OH

  • Franchise age (years): 122
  • Team: Cleveland Guardians
  • Year established: 1901 (Cleveland Blues)
  • Years in current city: 122
Detroit, MI
Photo Credit: Studio Specialty / Shutterstock

9. Detroit, MI

  • Franchise age (years): 122
  • Team: Detroit Tigers
  • Year established: 1901 (Detroit Tigers)
  • Years in current city: 122
Los Angeles, CA
Photo Credit: Eric Urquhart / Shutterstock

8. Los Angeles, CA

  • Franchise age (years): 139
  • Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Year established: 1884 (Brooklyn Atlantics)
  • Years in current city: 65
San Francisco, CA
Photo Credit: GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock

7. San Francisco, CA

  • Franchise age (years): 140
  • Team: San Francisco Giants
  • Year established: 1883 (New York Gothams)
  • Years in current city: 65
Philadelphia, PA
Photo Credit: Gang Liu / Shutterstock

6. Philadelphia, PA

  • Franchise age (years): 140
  • Team: Philadelphia Phillies
  • Year established: 1883 (Philadelphia Quakers)
  • Years in current city: 140
Pittsburgh, PA
Photo Credit: rfphotography / Shutterstock

5. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Franchise age (years): 141
  • Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Year established: 1882 (Pittsburgh Alleghenys)
  • Years in current city: 141
Cincinnati, OH
Photo Credit: Smart Pro Imaging / Shutterstock

4. Cincinnati, OH

  • Franchise age (years): 141
  • Team: Cincinnati Reds
  • Year established: 1882 (Cincinnati Red Stockings)
  • Years in current city: 141
St Louis, MO
Photo Credit: CE Photography / Shutterstock

3. St. Louis, MO

  • Franchise age (years): 141
  • Team: St. Louis Cardinals
  • Year established: 1882 (St. Louis Brown Stockings)
  • Years in current city: 141

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Atlanta, GA
Photo Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

2. Atlanta, GA

  • Franchise age (years): 147
  • Team: Atlanta Braves
  • Year established: 1876 (Boston Red Stockings)
  • Years in current city: 57
Chicago, IL
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

1. Chicago, IL

  • Franchise age (years): 147
  • Team: Chicago Cubs
  • Year established: 1876 (Chicago White Stockings)
  • Years in current city: 147

Methodology and Detailed Findings

Researchers at HotDog.com ranked US and Canadian cities according to the age of each location’s active professional baseball franchises. All professional baseball seasons since the founding of the National League in 1876 through 2022 were considered.

In the event of a tie, the location with the franchise that has accumulated more years in its current city was ranked higher. Further ties were broken by total games played, and then all-time winning percentage.

The data was sourced from baseball-reference.com.

Featured image credit: Andrew Dawes / Shutterstock

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Alanna Baker

By Alanna Baker

A writer/editor and closet hippie, Alanna enjoys knitting, building LEGOs, armchair psychology, traveling the world with her family, and all things Disney.

"I haven't had a cable account in 15 years or more. My husband and I were early adopters of Redbox kiosks and Netflix and GameFly back when it was all mail-order back and forth, and switched to streaming on demand as soon as it was available.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't just write about streaming TV and movies, I've lived it for more than a decade."

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