Publish date:

Teams on The Move

Once upon a time there were the Philadelphia Athletics, Minneapolis Lakers, Baltimore Colts and Quebec Nordiques. Pro franchises have moved around so relentlessly, always in search of greener pastures, that it's easy to forget where they all began

Baseball Goes West

Like the Westward expansion that preceded it by a century, the migration of franchises has observed the logic of Manifest Destiny: Baseball is America's pastime, and where the land is open, the soil fertile and the sky wide, the game must take root. (In the only eastward relocation in the last 35 years, the Seattle Pilots, 64-98 during their lone season, in 1969, fled only to be reborn as the not-much-better Milwaukee Brewers.) We saw the California transplantation of the Dodgers, Giants and Athletics, and the creation of new clubs in Texas, in the Rocky Mountains and in the Arizona desert, the last in 1998 when Jerry Colangelo unwrapped the expansion Diamondbacks in Phoenix and opened a ballpark that featured a swimming pool. At the end of Arizona's fourth season, the fledgling franchise won the World Series, dethroning the East Coast, old-guard New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Chicago remained home to the team that has stayed in the same place the longest: the Cubs, who were founded as the White Stockings in 1871 and were also known as the Colts and the Orphans before changing their name to the Cubs in 1903.

The NHL

A wave of expansion in the early 1990s added nine franchises in areas such as Florida, Atlanta and Nashville. In the last 11 years four teams (the North Stars, Nordiques, Jets and Whalers) relocated to nontraditional hockey cities Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and Raleigh, respectively. Hockey may be Canada's game, but just six of the 30 franchises are in Canadian cities.

The NBA

Before 1985 the league had not gone more than five years without a team switching cities. Since David Stern became commissioner in '84 he has preferred expansion to relocation, adding seven teams since '88. From '85 to 2001 there were no franchise shifts. In '94 he blocked a proposal to move the Timberwolves from Minnesota to New Orleans, and in '99 the Grizzlies from Vancouver to St. Louis.

The NFL

No team had relocated in 19 years when Al Davis took the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982. That opened the door for other moves, and six teams have switched cities since, including the Raiders, who went back to Oakland in 1995. L.A. has gone nine years without a team, but that could change soon, as the Chargers, Saints and Vikings have expressed interest in moving there.

COLOR MAP

International Mapping

 KEY The height of the bars represents the number of years in a location. Mariners 1977

Pilots 1969

Athletics 1968

Giants 1958

Angels 1961

Dodgers 1958

Padres 1969

Diamondbacks 1998

Astros 1965

Colt .45's 1962

Rangers 1972

Devil Rays 1998

Marlins 1993

Cardinals 1900

Perfectos 1899

Browns 1883

Brown Stockings 1882

Rockies 1993

Royals 1969

Athletics 1955

Browns 1902

Braves 1966

White Sox 1901

White Stockings 1900

Millers 1894

Twins 1961

Cubs 1903

Orphans 1898

Colts 1890

White Stockings 1871

Brewers 1970

Brewers 1901

Braves 1953

Tigers 1901

Pirates 1891

Innocents 1890

Alleghenies 1882

Indians 1915

Naps 1903

Broncos 1902

Blues 1901

Reds 1960

Red Legs 1954

Reds 1890

Red Stockings 1882

Nationals 2005

Senators 1961

Senators 1956

Nationals 1905

Senators 1901

Blue Jays 1977

Phillies 1945

Blue Jays 1943

Phillies 1890

Quakers 1883

Orioles 1901

Orioles 1954

Athletics 1901

Yankees 1913

Highlanders 1903

Mets 1962

Giants 1885

Gothams 1883

Dodgers 1932

Robins 1914

Dodgers 1911

Superbas 1899

Grooms 1891

Bridegrooms 1888

Grays 1885

Atlantics 1884

Expos 1969

Red Sox 1907

Pilgrims 1903

Somersets 1902

Americans 1901

Braves 1941

Bees 1936

Braves 1912

Doves 1907

Beaneaters 1883

Red Caps 1876

Red Stockings 1871

 

B/W PHOTO

SI LIBRARY (GERNERT)

  DICK GERNERT

COLT .45'S

1962

B/W PHOTO

TRANSCENDENTAL GRAPHICS

  JIM BOUTON

SEATTLE PILOTS

1969

B/W PHOTO

TRANSCENDENTAL GRAPHICS

  NAP LAJOIE

CLEVELAND BRONCOS

1902

B/W PHOTO

TRANSCENDENTAL GRAPHICS

BOSTON PILGRIMS 1903

B/W PHOTO

FRED KAPLAN (WILLIAMS)

  TED WILLIAMS

WASHINGTON SENATORS

1969

COLOR MAP

International Mapping

the NHL Oilers 1972

Flames 1980

Canucks 1970

Seals 1974

Sharks 1991

Kings 1967

Mighty Ducks 1993

Coyotes 1996

Avalance 1995

Rockies 1976

Jets 1972

Stars 1993

Scouts 1974

North Stars 1967

Wild 2000

Blues 1967

Blackhawks 1926

Red Wings 1932

Falcons 1930

Cougars 1926

Blue Jackets 2000

Predators 1998

Flames 1972

Barons 1976

Maple Leafs 1926

St. Patricks 1919

Arenas 1917

Senators 1992

Rangers 1926

Sabres 1970

Penguins 1967

Hurricanes 1997

Thrashers 1999

Lightning 1992

Panthers 1993

Canadiens 1910

Nordiques 1972

Bruins 1924

Whalers 1972

Islanders 1972

Devils 1982

Flyers 1967

Capitals 1974

COLOR MAP

International Mapping

the NBA Grizzlies 1995

SuperSonics 1967

Trail Blazers 1970

Kings 1985

Warriors 1971

Warriors 1962

Lakers 1960

Clippers 1984

Rockets 1967

Clippers 1978

Jazz 1979

Suns 1968

Nuggets 1976

Timberwolves 1989

Lakers 1948

Kings 1972

Mavericks 1980

Spurs 1976

Rockets 1971

Bulls 1966

Bucks 1968

Hawks 1951

Blackhawks 1949

Hawks 1955

Grizzlies 2001

Hornets 2002

Pacers1976

Zephyrs 1962

Packers 1961

Pistons 1948

Zollner Pistons 1941

Pistons 1957

Royals 1957

Hawks 1968

Raptors 1995

Cavaliers 1970

Wizards 1997

Bullets 1973

Hornets 1988

Braves 1970

Royals 1945

Nationals 1949

Celtics 1946

Knickerbockers 1946

Nets 1976

76ers 1963

Warriors 1946

Bullets 1963

Bobcats 2004

Magic 1989

Heat 1989

Jazz 1974

COLOR MAP

International Mapping

the NFL Seahawks 1976

49ers 1946

Raiders 1960

Raiders 1995

Rams 1946

Raiders 1982

Chargers 1960

Chargers 1961

Cardinals 1988

Broncos 1960

Cowboys 1960

Texans 1960

Oilers 1960

Texans 2002

Chiefs 1963

Vikings 1961

Saints 1967

Packers 1921

Staleys 1920

Cardinals 1960

Rams 1995

Oilers 1997

Bears 1922

Staleys 1921

Cardinals 1920

Colts 1984

Bengals1968

Titans 1999

Oilers 1998

Lions 1934

Rams 1937

Spartans 1930

Falcons 1966

Browns 1946

Steelers 1940

Pirates 1933

Bills 1960

Giants 1925

Patriots 1960

Redskins 1933

Braves 1932

Jets 1963

Titans 1960

Eagles 1933

Colts 1948

Ravens 1996

Redskins 1937

Panthers 1995

Jaguars 1995

Buccaneers 1976

Seahawks 1947

Dolphins 1966 The Browns organization moved to Baltimore in 1996, but Cleveland retained the team name and history.