Major League Baseball 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 standard baseball season runs from April to September with teams competing mostly against other teams from their own league1. In October the top teams from each division of a league and a Wild Card team play for the league title, and the league champions from each league play the World Series. The Wild Card spot in the playoffs goes to the team with the best record that has not won its division title.
Although the American League was formed in 1899 it wasn't declared an official major league until two years later. In 1901, the eight charter teams of the American League became competition for the existing National League. The Boston Americans, Chicago White Stockings and Philadelphia Athletics - in cities with established National League teams - were competing for hometown fans. The other five original teams were the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Senators, Cleveland Blues, and Detroit Tigers. All eight charter teams remain today, though some have changed cities and names2. Since 1961, several league expansions have added new teams to both major leagues and the American League now carries fourteen teams.
Just a note: this Entry concerns a living entity and so the information will gradually become out of date as teams move around, expansions are announced, and World Series are won. Efforts will be made to update when possible.
The New York Yankees are perhaps the most famous team in baseball. Starting out as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901, they moved to New York two years later and were known as the Highlanders for their first ten seasons before taking the name 'Yankees' in 1913. Over the years their roster has featured legends such as Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Ruth. The Yankees were the first team to make numbers a permanent part of the uniform in 1929, a practice that was adopted throughout the majors in 1932. The Yankees have won 26 World Series titles, more than twice as many as their closest competitors3, and they play at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York.
The Boston Red Sox began in 1901 as the Boston Americans and were the Boston Pilgrims for a time before becoming the Red Sox in 1910. Boston's Fenway Park, opened in 1912, is the oldest ballpark in the US still occupied by a major league team. The Red Sox have won the World Series title six times, including the first-ever World Series in 1903, and a spectacular sweep of the St Louis Cardinals in 2004 breaking the 86-year-old Curse of the Bambino.
The Toronto Blue Jays became the second Canadian team in the Major Leagues in 1977. Their stadium, Rogers Centre, was the first ballpark to feature a retractable roof and uniquely features a hotel incorporated into the stadium with rooms that overlook the field4. The Blue Jays have been successful in both of their trips to the World Series. When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington DC in 2005, the Blue Jays became the only major league team outside the US.
The Baltimore Orioles were originally the first team of Milwaukee Brewers in 1901 before moving to St Louis and taking up the Cardinals' abandoned name of 'Browns' in 1902. They remained in St Louis until 1954 when they relocated to Baltimore and resurrected the name 'Orioles'5. The Orioles play in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, they have won three World Series titles.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are one of the newest teams in the league as part of the 1998 expansion. The Devil Rays' home park is Tropicana Field, which is located in St Petersburg, Florida. Tropicana is the first major league venue to use FieldTurf, a new kind of artificial turf that is more like real grass. Tampa Bay has yet to win the World Series.
The Chicago White Sox once played a game against the New York Giants in England for King George as part of a Baseball World Tour after the 1913 season. Prior to the formation of the American League the Sox were known as the St Paul Saints from 1894 to 1900. Upon relocating to Chicago they changed their name to the White Stockings for awhile before settling on White Sox. This was the team involved in the Black Sox scandal when eight White Sox players allegedly took bribes to throw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Chicago lost the series and all eight players suspected to be involved were banned from the game for life. The scandal became the subject of the movie Eight Men Out. The White Sox play on the US Cellular Field and have won the World Series three times. Their win in 2005 broke the second-longest World Series drought in baseball history at 88 years6.
The Minnesota Twins were a charter team in the American League as the Washington (DC) Senators in 1901 after playing in the National League from 1892 to 1899. Upon moving to Minnesota in 1960, the team was renamed the Twins to reflect its location in the 'twin cities' of St Paul and Minneapolis. The Twins' home at the Metrodome features an air-supported dome - it relies on air pressure to hold the roof up. This design has failed in the past when the roof has deflated due to heavy snow or malfunction, and the team is considering a new venue. The Twins have won two World Series titles.
The Kansas City Royals were created in the 1969 expansion. The Royals play in Kansas City, Missouri, not in Kansas. Their home in Kauffman Stadium features a water spectacular beyond the outfield fence which, at 322 feet across, has the designation of being the largest privately-funded fountain in the world. They have won the World Series once.
The Cleveland Indians, like many teams in baseball, didn't start out as the Indians, though they have spent their entire existence as a Cleveland team. In 1901, they were called the Blues, and in 1902 the Broncos. From 1903 to 1914 the team was nicknamed 'the Naps' for their star player, Napoleon Lajoie. When Lajoie left the team the owners asked the fans to come up with a new name and Indians was chosen by public poll. The name was chosen to reflect an earlier National League Cleveland team also called the Indians (1897-1899) in honour of their star player Louis Sockalexis who was the first Native American professional baseball player. The Indians play on Jacobs Field and have two World Series titles.
The Detroit Tigers may have been members of the National League at their inception, but they became members of the American League when it was opened in 1901. In the early 1900s, when 'blue laws' prohibited baseball games being played on Sundays, the Tigers would sometimes play Sunday games on team owner James Burns' property just outside of city limits. The name Tigers refers to the striped socks that the players used to wear. The Tigers call Comerica Park home, and they have won the World Series four times.
The Oakland Athletics are more commonly referred to as the Oakland A's. In 1901 the A's entered the American League as the Philadelphia Athletics, and from 1955 to 1967 they were the Kansas City (Missouri) Athletics before moving to Oakland, California. The A's play at McAfee Coliseum and have won the World Series nine times.
The Seattle Mariners are a team from the 1977 expansion. The name 'Mariners' reflects Seattle's importance as a Naval port and its marine connections. During the 1983 season a ship designated the USS Mariner was stationed in Puget Sound just outside the Kingdome and would fire a canon after every home run the Mariners hit. The ship was not a Naval vessel but was rumoured to have been staffed by US Navy personnel. The Mariners now play on Safeco Field located just next door to where the Kingdome used to stand. They have never won a World Series.
The Anaheim Angels were the Los Angeles Angels for the first year of their existence in 1961. When they moved to Anaheim - just a hop and skip southeast of Los Angeles - in 1962 they became the California Angels. When they remodeled Anaheim Stadium in 1996 they renamed it Edison Field, and changed the team name to the current Anaheim Angels. Their home field has since been renamed again, and they now play in Angel Stadium. The Angels were owned by singing cowboy and baseball enthusiast Gene Autry until his death in 1998. They have won the World Series once.
The Texas Rangers started out in Washington DC as the Senators. In 1961, the year after the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins, Washington was awarded an expansion team which they again called the Senators. It was this second Senator team that would move to Texas in 1972 to become the Rangers. The Rangers play at The Ballpark in Arlington, located just between Dallas and Fort Worth, and have yet to win a World Series.
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 hundred years of World Series, the American League teams won 60 titles to the National League's 41. 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 meet up in the 1919 world series which was slated to go to nine (but was over in eight).