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Oldest teams in Major League Baseball

Oldest teams in Major League Baseball
1/General Photographic Agency // Getty Images

Oldest teams in Major League Baseball

The National League was founded in 1876, while the American League formed in 1901 (two years later, Major League Baseball officially began). Still, some current MLB teams predate both leagues, originating when baseball was played by men with curly mustaches, wearing high baggy pants, and with crudely constructed bats and gloves.

As the professional baseball season heats up this summer with intense pennant races and mind-boggling trades, Stacker counts down the oldest MLB teams. These 30 clubs are ranked by the year founded, with tiebreakers decided by total historic wins.

Just because a team is relatively new does not mean it hasn’t found success; some younger clubs have more World Series appearances than teams entering the senior citizen age bracket. There are also some trends to note. Baseball expansion often occurred in bunches, marking major moments in the league’s evolution. After a cluster of eight teams were introduced in 1901, MLB experienced a 60-year gap before introducing a new club. While MLB was coasting largely unchallenged during the first half of the 20th century, the possibility of a new league led to the institution of franchises in new markets around the country.

Introducing new teams has caused the expansion of divisions and playoff formats. Recent additions continue to show MLB’s willingness to continue to break into new markets—particularly in areas where baseball has long been popular (Florida and Arizona, for example).

There are quirks to be found looking back at this baseball timeline. Some teams’ ages can be identified by the classic color schemes of their uniforms (teal and purple were rarely ever seen on a baseball diamond through much of the 1900s). Strangely, though, while talk of expansion is always on the minds of baseball fans, no new teams have been added in the 21st century (although there are rumblings of a combined Tampa/Montreal franchise to come).

Click through to find out the history of each team, from the youngest of the bunch to the elder statesmen of MLB.

You may also like: MLB history from the year you were born

#30. Tampa Bay Rays
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#30. Tampa Bay Rays

- Year founded: 1998
- Division: AL East
- Overall record: 1,599-1,813-0

The Rays, despite being one of the youngest teams in baseball, have had quite a rollercoaster history. It took Tampa Bay over a decade until it reached the postseason where the Rays fell in the 2008 World Series. A majority of years have been marked by shoddy play in a stadium not optimal for baseball (recent rumors have them splitting time in Florida and Montreal in the future), but Tampa has been at the cutting edge of baseball trends, too. Last year, the Rays introduced the idea of an opener—a relief pitcher starting a game—and their outside-the-box thinking has them overcoming their small-market restraints to challenge the American League’s best this season.

#29. Arizona Diamondbacks
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#29. Arizona Diamondbacks

- Year founded: 1998
- Division: NL West
- Overall record: 1,684-1,729-0

The Diamondbacks had one of the quickest ascents in baseball history, winning a division title in only their second year. By 2001, they were World Series champions, taking an epic seven-game series from the New York Yankees. Luis Gonzalez provided the walk-off hit off Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera for the Diamondbacks’ only title.

#28. Miami Marlins
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#28. Miami Marlins

- Year founded: 1993
- Division: NL East
- Overall record: 1,936-2,217-0

Entering MLB as the Florida Marlins, these 1993 newbies achieved success much quicker than expected. By 1997 the Marlins were world champions then won a second title in 2003. Sustained success, however, has been hard to come by. After trading Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton prior to the 2018 season, the Marlins are in the midst of another rebuild (this one helmed by former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, now an owner of the South Florida franchise).

#27. Colorado Rockies
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#27. Colorado Rockies

- Year founded: 1993
- Division: NL West
- Overall record: 1,965-2,198-0

The Colorado Rockies have used the benefits of the Rocky Mountain air to send balls out of Coors Field at an astronomical rate, but they are still searching for their first championship. One pitfall of playing at a higher elevation is that while the ball flies off the bat, pitchers have been known to struggle in Denver.

#26. Seattle Mariners
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#26. Seattle Mariners

- Year founded: 1977
- Division: AL West
- Overall record: 3,162-3,530-2

The Mariners have been defined by some of baseball’s greats, namely Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki. Griffey became a household name in the 1990s with his picturesque swing and jovial approach to baseball, and was followed by Ichiro, who not only broke barriers for Japanese players, but proved to be one of the game’s greatest hitters (his 262 hits in 2004 is the single-season record).

#25. Toronto Blue Jays
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#25. Toronto Blue Jays

- Year founded: 1977
- Division: AL East
- Overall record: 3,320-3,371-3

The Blue Jays won consecutive World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, but Canada’s only MLB team has made just two postseason appearances since. When Toronto captured the 2015 division title, fans created a raucous atmosphere inside the Rogers Centre—not unlike how locals celebrated the NBA’s Raptors during their recent championship run. Itching for a return to greatness, the Blue Jays are banking their future on young superstars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who hit 91 home runs in this summer’s Home Run Derby.

#24. San Diego Padres
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#24. San Diego Padres

- Year founded: 1969
- Division: NL West
- Overall record: 3,684-4,302-2

The Padres are the only MLB team to have never thrown a no-hitter. They have also never won a World Series, but their 50 years of history are not without a few bright spots. Tony Gwynn, one of baseball’s most revered hitters, played his entire 20-year career in San Diego, and won eight batting titles.

#23. Milwaukee Brewers
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#23. Milwaukee Brewers

- Year founded: 1969
- Division: NL Central
- Overall record: 3,832-4,148-4

Although Wisconsin might not be traditionally thought of as a baseball-crazed state, summers in Milwaukee are known for brats, beer, and Brewers baseball. The Brewers, who followed in the footsteps of the Milwaukee Braves, have rewarded fans with one trip to the World Series in 1982 and are looking for a return this season. Leading the way is Christian Yelich, the 2018 MVP who led the majors in home runs at the All-Star break.

#22. Kansas City Royals
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#22. Kansas City Royals

- Year founded: 1969
- Division: AL Central
- Overall record: 3,844-4,127-2

Before the Royals’ birth in 1969, Kansas City hosted the A’s for 13 seasons. While the A’s never won a championship in the Midwest, the Royals have two World Series titles to their credit, the most recent coming in 2015. Their home ballpark, Kauffman Stadium, is known for its picturesque views that include waterfalls beyond the outfield fence.

#21. Washington Nationals
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#21. Washington Nationals

- Year founded: 1969
- Division: NL East
- Overall record: 3,889-4,085-4

Formerly the Montreal Expos, the Nationals franchise has also played home games in Puerto Rico. Today, they are firmly entrenched in the nation’s capital, and have been among the premier teams in the National League East. However, playoff success has not come easy and the Nationals lost their star slugger Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies last offseason.

#20. New York Mets
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#20. New York Mets

- Year founded: 1962
- Division: NL East
- Overall record: 4,368-4,736-8

Few franchises have created such a wide range of emotions from their fanbase like the Mets. In 1962, the Mets were literally one of the worst teams ever, posting a 40-120 record—the first team to lose 120 games in the 20th century. But seven years later they were world champions, feted with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan. Since then, the Mets have played in dramatic World Series battles and suffered heartbreaking collapses.

#19. Houston Astros
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#19. Houston Astros

- Year founded: 1962
- Division: AL West
- Overall record: 4,501-4,616-5

The Houston Astros, originally known as the Colt .45s, were recognized during the 1970s and 80s for playing in a futuristic stadium that introduced the world to AstroTurf, where they donned eye-popping “rainbow” uniforms. High on pizazz, the Astros could not break through where it mattered most—in winning championships–until 2017. In a dramatic seven-game series, Houston topped the Los Angeles Dodgers, led by MVP George Springer.

#18. Texas Rangers
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#18. Texas Rangers

- Year founded: 1961
- Division: AL West
- Overall record: 4,427-4,8346

For 11 years, the Washington Senators played mostly losing baseball, posting only one winning season. In 1972, the team moved to Arlington, Tex., and was christened the Texas Rangers. While in the Lone Star State, the Rangers have made two World Series and fielded stars such as Nolan Ryan, Juan Gonzalez, and Adrian Beltre.

#17. Los Angeles Angels
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#17. Los Angeles Angels

- Year founded: 1961
- Division: AL West
- Overall record: 4,643 - 4,635 - 3

In 2016, the Angels went back to their roots, officially calling themselves the Los Angeles Angels. Before that, they were the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Anaheim Angels, and the California Angels. So even though the team still plays in Anaheim, the current name is a bit easier to remember. The Angels won their only World Series in 2002 but have a talented roster this year with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Albert Pujols.

#16. Baltimore Orioles
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#16. Baltimore Orioles

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL East
- Overall record: 8,719-9,626-110

As MLB teams get older, their histories become a bit more confusing. After the Orioles were one of eight franchises to enter the league in 1901, baseball did not welcome another new franchise until 1961. In the time between, though, that doesn’t mean teams didn’t move around or change names. The Orioles began as the Milwaukee Brewers, quickly became the St. Louis Browns, and then moved to Maryland in 1954. There, they won three World Series titles.

#15. Minnesota Twins
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#15. Minnesota Twins

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL Central
- Overall record: 8,808-9,545-109

For 60 years, this franchise was based in Washington D.C. and known as the Senators. In 1961, the franchise relocated to Minnesota and became the Twins—in honor of the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The club has won three World Series, including two while in Minnesota, and have spent the 2019 season thus far in first place in the AL Central.

#14. Oakland Athletics
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#14. Oakland Athletics

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL West
- Overall record: 8,938-9,395-87

Before landing in Oakland, the Athletics called Philadelphia and Kansas City home. The A’s claimed five titles in Philly and have won four in the Bay Area, making them one of baseball’s most successful franchises. Beginning in the early 2000s, the A’s, who are considered a small-market team, began implementing analytics to even the playing field against higher-spending clubs, a system under former general manager Billy Beane that became known as “Moneyball.”

#13. Chicago White Sox
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#13. Chicago White Sox

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL Central
- Overall record: 9,214-9,133-103

During their early years of existence, this franchise went by the moniker “White Stockings,” which was eventually shortened to White Sox. The “Pale Hose” won two World Series by 1917 and then went 88 years before their next title. While that wait seems excruciating, White Sox fans still had it better than their rivals from the north side of Chicago, the Cubs, who waited 108 years between World Series championships.

#12. Detroit Tigers
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#12. Detroit Tigers

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL Central
- Overall record: 9,306-9,081-93

The Detroit Tigers are one of the rare teams from the early 1900s to have never gone through a name change or relocation—they have been the Motor City’s baseball team for 119 years. Over that time, the Tigers have won four World Series but are currently in the midst of a 35-year run without a title. Those who have suited up for Detroit include Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera.

#11. Cleveland Indians
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#11. Cleveland Indians

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL Central
- Overall record: 9,391-8,971-91

The Indians are another team that has waited a long time to return to glory. Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948, coming closest in 2017, when they lost the World Series in seven games. Cleveland has also been called the Naps, Broncos, and Bluebirds.

#10. Boston Red Sox
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#10. Boston Red Sox

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL East
- Overall record: 9,521-8,839-83

For decades the Boston Red Sox were associated with the year 1918 (their last World Series title prior to 2004). Through their first 18 seasons, though, the Red Sox were quite the juggernaut, winning five World Series (one of those came as the Boston Americans). With the “Curse of the Bambino” over, Boston is once again experiencing a period of glory, winning four championships over the past 15 seasons.

#9. New York Yankees
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#9. New York Yankees

- Year founded: 1901
- Division: AL East
- Overall record: 10,393-7,934-88

Baseball’s most successful franchise (in terms of World Series titles) actually began as the Baltimore Orioles (a different franchise, though, from the current Orioles). After two years in Baltimore, the team became the New York Highlanders, before switching to Yankees in 1913. From that point forward, the franchise captured 27 titles, while cultivating the talents of folks like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada—you get the point.

#8. Los Angeles Dodgers
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#8. Los Angeles Dodgers

- Year founded: 1884
- Division: NL West
- Overall record: 10,876-9,766-139

The Dodgers, who were formed in Brooklyn, had several nicknames before settling on their current moniker. They were the Robins, Superbas, Trolley Dodgers, and others, but since 1932 have simply been the Dodgers. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1958, where they have won five World Series. Among their most well-known players are Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser, and Clayton Kershaw.

#7. Philadelphia Phillies
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#7. Philadelphia Phillies

- Year founded: 1883
- Division: NL East
- Overall record: 9,751-10,922-115

Baseball is as embedded in Philadelphia as cheesesteaks and colonial history. Originally called the Quakers, the Phillies have won only two World Series but are one of the more distinct franchises in baseball. Their calling cards include the replica of the Liberty Bell at their stadium and the Phillie Phanatic mascot.

#6. San Francisco Giants
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#6. San Francisco Giants

- Year founded: 1883
- Division: NL West
- Overall record: 11,092-9,610-163

The Giants spent more than 70 years in New York (first as the Gothams), where they won five World Series. Like the Dodgers, they headed west in 1958 and have since won three more championships. Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, and Willie McCovey are just some of the names forever associated with orange and black.

#5. Pittsburgh Pirates
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#5. Pittsburgh Pirates

- Year founded: 1882
- Division: NL Central
- Overall record: 10,481-10,316-140

Formerly known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys (near the Allegheny River), the Pirates have been western Pennsylvania’s major league team of choice for over 135 years. During that time, they’ve won five World Series, with the last championship coming in 1979. Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Ralph Kiner are among their most memorable players, while Bill Mazeroski hit one of the most iconic home runs in baseball history to walk off Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

#4. Cincinnati Reds
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#4. Cincinnati Reds

- Year founded: 1882
- Division: NL Central
- Overall record: 10,526-10,314-139

The Reds’ name hasn’t changed much over the years (they were previously called the Red Stockings and Redlegs), while Cincinnati has been their home since their inception in 1882. The Reds also count five World Series trophies on their mantle, although the team has struggled to make the playoffs since 1990. They are perhaps best known for their “Big Red Machine” teams that featured Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan.

#3. St. Louis Cardinals
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#3. St. Louis Cardinals

- Year founded: 1882
- Division: NL Central
- Overall record: 10,833-9,997-151

Originally recognized as the Brown Stockings/Browns and even the Perfectos for one season, the Cardinals are the National League’s most successful franchise in terms of World Series wins. Since becoming the Cardinals in 1900, they have won 11 titles.

#2. Chicago Cubs
30/George Lawrence Company // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Chicago Cubs

- Year founded: 1876
- Division: NL Central
- Overall record: 10,901-10,333-161

The Chicago Cubs, long known as the Lovable Losers, have recently developed a reputation as one of the NL’s most fearsome clubs. The Cubs finally broke a 108-year World Series drought in 2016, and many of the key players for that team—like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant—still call Wrigley Field home, where they are regular contenders for a fourth ring.

#1. Atlanta Braves
31/Hastings, George H. // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Atlanta Braves

- Year founded: 1871
- Division: NL East
- Overall record: 10,607-10,598-154

Although the Braves have only played in Atlanta for 53 years, they lay claim to being MLB’s oldest franchise. The team began in Boston and went through a variety of nicknames (including Beaneaters and Rustlers) before moving to Milwaukee and finally settling in Georgia. The Braves have won three World Series, but also have witnessed some of Cooperstown’s most hallowed names, including Hank Aaron, Greg Maddux, and Chipper Jones.

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