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1901-02 Orioles Removed from Yankees History

Posted by Mike Lynch on July 21, 2014

Baseball-Reference has made the move to dissociate the New York Yankees franchise from the 1901 & 1902 Baltimore Orioles (not connected to the current Baltimore Orioles franchise). This adjustment allows us to fall in line with the Yankees franchise itself and most references including Total Baseball, edited by MLB's official historian, John Thorn, who authored an interesting history of the move. Additionally, Pete Palmer & Gary Gillette, the men behind the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, consider them separate franchises. A few years back, Gillette kindly shared his reasoning with us:

"We discussed this at length when we did the first edition of our new encyclopedia in 2004. IIRC, the deciding factor was that the Baltimore franchise went bust during the season and was turned over to the league. After the season, the league then sold a new franchise to investors in New York City. We felt that wasn't really a relocation or a transfer; it was simply filling the gap in the league that was opened when the Orioles' franchise disintegrated.

Of the 39 players who appeared for Baltimore in 1902, only five appeared for New York in 1903. Jimmy Williams was the regular second baseman for both clubs. Herm McFarland, a utility player in '02, became a regular outfielder in '03. Ernie Courtney played one game for Balto. in 1902, then 25 for NY in 1903. Harry Howell was the only pitcher of consequence to make the transition. Snake Wiltse (4 G in '03) also appeared for both."


This move was precipitated by the BAL/NYY joint record approaching the milestone of 10,000 wins, which caused a reassessment of how we approach this move. Some of the results in the play index may still reflect the two franchises as being one, but we will be working to fix that in the near future.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 3:35 pm and is filed under Announcement,, History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

130 Responses to “1901-02 Orioles Removed from Yankees History”

  1. I don't know...I think it's kinda silly because the lineage is still there from Baltimore to New York. It's almost as bad as considering the 1996 Baltimore Ravens of the NFL as an "expansion team" when, in reality, the Ravens were simply the Cleveland Browns the previous year and moved to Baltimore...and somehow the 1999 Cleveland Browns are not considered an expansion team despite being stocked with players via an expansion draft and are somehow insanely considered the direct lineage of the original Cleveland Browns that moved to Baltimore in 1996....they're not, no matter which way anyone slices it.

    Will the Louisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates now be considered the same franchise since Barnie Dreyfuss owned the Colonels then bought the Pirates and transferred most of the players from Louisville to Pittsburgh? Sounds silly, right? So is this Baltimore/New York decision, in my opinion. I think this all stems from the elitist and revisionist mentality of the Yankees to simply just disassociate themselves from their very humble beginnings because....well, they're the Yankees.

  2. I think the facts back this up pretty well. Independent facts, not "elitist and revisionist" nonsense. Get over yourself.

  3. Matt,

    Thanks for your note, but I consider John Thorn, Gary Gillette and Pete Palmer to be extremely sober and serious researchers. If this jibes with their understanding of history, then I'm very comfortable with making the change. None of them are going to subvert actual history for corporate whitewashing.

  4. I've looked at the evidence, and to me it is clear the AL sold the Baltimore club to Farrell and Devery, who moved it to NY. For one thing, you can see here ( that the Baltimore club had three players to its name in early 1903 (Wiltse, Howell, and Williams) and all three played for the Greater New Yorks that season. Odd coincidence if there was no connection between the two clubs.

  5. Mark Armour Says:

    This is very much the correct decision. The creation of the Yankees is similar to the creation of the Giants and Phillis, who, for many years, were incorrectly considered to have "relocated" from Troy and Worcester, respectively.

  6. tunaflipper Says:

    This is simply revisionist history. And there's no reason for it.

  7. Sean Byrnes Says:

    So what happens to the stats of the players on the 1901-02 teams - they still count right????

  8. This is a real shame. History is history and it's an historical fact that the Baltimore Orioles of 1901 - 1902 became the New York Highlanders in 1903, as it is an historical fact that the Milwaukee Brewers of 1901 became the St. Louis Browns in 1902.

    As an Orioles fan, I'd love nothing more than to disavow all ties to the Yankees franchise, but it would be a disservice to history. The movement of franchises in the early years of professional baseball is integral to how the game developed. It should be celebrated, not forgotten or intentionally removed.

    The History of Professional Baseball:

  9. Charles Saeger Says:

    The linked history from Thorn gives some support keeping the two teams as one franchise, giving ample evidence that the AL planned the move even before declaring itself a major league in 1901. It hardly seems conclusive either way.

  10. Who gets 10000th HR in N.Y. history?

  11. By Cliff Blau's reasoning, the players in common to Troy in 1882 and New York in 1883 would make the two clubs one continuing franchise, even though Troy conveyed no player contracts to New York and NY had a completely new ownership.

  12. This is my last word on this subject, about which I have written too much today. When franchise relocates under the same ownership an the great majority of its players (1958 Dodgers and Giants, 1953 Braves, etc.), the franchise is continuous. If not, not. When a team is barred from the league (Worcester, Troy) or disbands in midseason (1902 Orioles), there can be no continuity to another franchise in the following season. The principle is quite simple, and hard and fast. Pittsburgh owner Barney Dreyfuss bought the Louisville franchise, which was excised from the 1900 NL, and took its best players for Pittsburgh. This did not make Louisville 1899 and Pittsburgh a continuous franchise. Instead the continuity was between 1899 Pitt and 1900 Pitt.

  13. I feel kinda like I did when I heard the news that Pluto was no longer classified as a planet: something I'd been told my whole life was suddenly no longer so. Of course now there's talk of possibly re-instating Pluto...

  14. Not sure how I feel about this. For starters:

    "Of the 39 players who appeared for Baltimore in 1902, only five appeared for New York in 1903."

    Is a bit misleading. 4 of those 39, including what was considered the Orioles' two best pitchers in Cronin and McGinnity, and two starting position players, McGann and HOF Bresnahan, left with McGraw mid-season to join the Giants. McGraw is also one of the 39.
    Seymour and Kelley left at the same time and joined the Reds.
    So, there's no reason why those seven would be on the Highlanders the following season anyway since even if they stayed in Baltimore, they still wouldn't be on the team. So that's the top two pitchers, and four position players.
    That leaves us with 32.

    Pitcher Charlie Shields was purchased by the Browns in September from Baltimore.
    Pitcher Tom Hughes was purchased by Boston in July of 1902.
    Pitchers Frank Foreman, Bob Lawson, George Prentiss, Ernie Ross, Crese Heismann, Dad Hale, Jack Katoll, and Ike Butler never played MLB again after 1902. (Ike, Dad, and Ernie having never played it prior to 1902 either)
    HOF catcher Wilbert Robinson also never played again and presumably retired as he was turning 39.
    Outfielder Harry Arndt did not play in MLB again until 1905.
    SS Billy Gilbert jumped to his former manager's team after the season.
    Backup 1B Tom Jones spent 1903 in the minors
    Backup catcher Aleck Smith played 26 more MLB games
    Backup 3Bs Jimmy Mathison and Andy Oyler never played MLB again (or before 1902)

    The following all played 20 games or far fewer:
    Jimmy Sheckard went from Baltimore to Brooklyn all the way back in April 1902
    Sport McAllister was purchased from Detroit in September but then returned almost right away
    Pop Dillan did not play at all in 1903 and played just one more season overall in 1904
    Lew Drill was only on loan from Washington following the time the players left in July with McGraw, then he was returned four days later
    Slats Jordan played exactly one game in 1901 and one in 1902 and then never again
    George Yeager never played again
    C.B. Burns and Bill Mellor never played before or after 1902

    That leaves us with 7 players.

    So when the Baltimore base ball club was moved from Baltimore to New York City, it basically had 12 players even worth keeping in the major leagues. They kept 5 of them. And we're trying to say a club that ends up with 41.67% of the previous season's players is not the same? I'd like to see another example of that.

  15. This is disheartening from a romantic perspective. I'd always considered the Original Eight chartered AL clubs to all still be in existence (MLA > SLB > BAL, WSH > MIN, PHA > KCA > OAK, and BLA > NYY), and it gave a sense of continuous solidarity that connected the beginning of the league with the modern era. No American League major-league club had ever folded, or so most of us had thought until today.

    I'm not quite ready to change my own books, because the issue hardly seems cut-and-dry. Thorn has defended his position well, but the definition of what constitutes a franchise is clearly debatable.

  16. Hideisalive Says:

    So are we going to have the Browns and Brewers removed from our team encyclopedia?


  17. Bahomebrew Says:

    In Mr. Thorns history referenced above it says Johnson had found two men who payed $18,000 for the [orioles] franchise. How is that not a continuous thread? When the Hardee's in my town got bought by roy rogers and then moved to a different location with the original location becoming burger king...forget it. Yankees got everything that made them Yankees from b-more. First the franchise and then the babe. We know the story however you want to whitewash it.

  18. No! The Orioles were sold to New York. The reason only four went to New York is because most of the players were leaving anyway. In fact, most of them weren't MLB caliber players.

  19. I hadn't thought that this would need stating, but no individual records or team records will be excised from the record books. Whoever played for Baltimore in 1902 keeps his playing record. It is only in the realm of cumulative team records that the Orioles ought to be uncoupled from the Yanks. As to the AL clubs remaining intact, that is true since 1903 but not since 1901. Milwaukee's transfer to St. Louis is similar to the Baltimore story--different ownership, overwhelmingly different player roster--not a relocation so much as an abandonment. Orioles, successor to Browns, should not claim Brewers' 1901 records IMHO. Clubs tend to disown even their own legitimate predecessors, however. No one cries out on behalf of the American Association predecessor of the Pittsburgh NL club, for example. See:

  20. This is my last word on this subject, about which I have written too much today.

    Well, excuse me, Mr. Sabermetrician, for taking exception to you whitewashing a century of history.

  21. Does this make the Yankees an expansion franchise?

  22. In all seriousness, you could argue that the LA Clippers have right to hang the Boston Celtics' championship banners from the Red Auerbach coaching era:

    I know the Baltimore-to-New York baseball shift followed a much different path, but I'd say there's at least as much continuity with that move as there was with the Celtics/Braves aka Clippers franchise swap.

  23. From a statistical point of view... you may be correct. However, it would seem to me that to end a franchise or to start a new one would require the league to either contract or expand. In this case, both would have had to happen in the same year. Just like the Expos relocating and changing ownership in the same year. Are the Nationals a new franchise?

  24. Mark Armour Says:

    I actually like the way the NFL handled the Browns move and subsequent reforming. The Browns history, they determined, did not belong to Art Modell, it belonged to the city of Cleveland. The Browns consider Jim Brown to be their icon, not the icon of Baltimore, and the NFL agrees with them.

    In 1960, the AL more or less made the same decision, and for many years afterwards attempted to consistently tell the story this way -- the Twins got a fresh start. In 1969 (as part of the "centennial") each team named their all-time team. The Washington Senators team included Frank Howard, but also Joe Cronin, Goose Goslin, etc. The Twins team was all 1960s players. No one complained. It was not until the encyclopedists weighed in that the verdict was overturned: Goose Goslin does NOT belong to you, Washington. He is Minnesota's. This seemed, and seems, silly. But all is not lost: the Nationals honor Walter Johnson outside their park, and good for them.

    In my view, major leagues should have all the moving teams changed their name and lose their history. Sorry, San Francisco, but you don't get Mel Ott.

  25. This effectively means that the New York Yankees are not one of the "original" eight American League teams, or for that matter, the "original" 16 teams. I suppose this means they can no longer look down their noses at their counterparts, the Mets, and call them an expansion team.

  26. […] geeks at Baseball Reference – probably fans of the Redsock-leaning Bill James – have just rewritten their precious record books and successfully crushed all plans for Yankee jubilation over the franchise’s looming […]

  27. Jim Irwin Says:

    re: No.1, Matt is absolutely correct. I call the current team "Browns Lite." Classifying the post-1996 Browns as a continuation of the 1946-1995 Browns (1950-1995 excluding the AAFC years) was a sop designed to placate shocked Cleveland fans. One of these days Browns Lite will have players good enough to actually appear in the record books.

  28. This link was in the original post, but warrants re-sharing:

    Apr. 23, 1903: The Highlanders record the first win in franchise history, a 7-2 decision at Washington. Harry Howell recorded the win.

    These situations are always messy and we're merely doing our best to present this history in the best way possible. Our thanks to John Thorn and Gary Gillette for sharing their well-informed, thoroughly-researched opinions on this tricky matter.

  29. Devin Clancy Says:

    I respect the work of Thorn and Gillette (without knowing enough to agree or disagree with the conclusion), but I wouldn't accept a tool of the Yankees' marketing machine as an authority on history.

    The team's website or media guide should have no bearing on the historical record since it is clearly put forward for the purposes of the current ownership's preferred image.

  30. re: Mike Lynch's post

    on the same link, three entries above is this:

    Jan. 9, 1903: Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchase the defunct Baltimore franchise of the American League for $18,000 and then move the team to Manhattan.

    If even the Yankees are saying that the franchise was purchased and moved, how can we argue?

  31. The Yankees own take is mentioned in response to posts saying we're robbing them of their 10,000th win.

    I'd agree that the Yankees themselves are not the most unbiased arbiter in this case, but merely a piece of the puzzle.

    Frank: that line refers to the purchase of a "defunct" franchise, which connotes that that Baltimore Orioles franchise had run its course and the purchasers were starting anew.

    Most importantly, we have great respect for the research done by Thorn, Gillette, etc on this topic.

    We would not say someone is plainly wrong to associate the 2 franchises, but we believe the best policy is to separate them.

  32. Devin Clancy Says:

    I would imagine it would not be too hard to allow users of this site to select how the franchise pages display. Some sources, like the book The Ballclubs, call each relocation the start of a new franchise. And teams like the Nationals hand out Expos retired numbers as if the Montreal club never existed.

  33. Here's another entry from the timeline on the Yankees MLB site:

    Jan. 9, 1903: Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchase the defunct Baltimore franchise of the American League for $18,000 and then move the team to Manhattan.

    So it can be interpreted either way. The Wikipedia entry for the New York Yankees begins such:

    The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the Bronx borough of New York City that competes in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the American League's (AL) East Division. One of the AL's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles. The team moved to New York City in 1903 and became the New York Highlanders, before taking "Yankees" as their official name in 1913.

    Perhaps those who feel strongly about this should update the Wikipedia page.

    And one more thing: It is stated that the change was precipitated by the impending 10,000 win benchmark. Is this something Sports Ref has been thinking about a while or, perhaps, was the impetus a suggestion from outside Sports Ref?

  34. Wow what a hornets nest stirred up in here.

    I am just going to ramble some thoughts & would love to hear feedback.

    The biggest statement to me is
    Jan. 9, 1903: Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchase the defunct Baltimore franchise of the American League for $18,000 and then move the team to Manhattan.

    That 1 statement makes BOTH cases.

    in that Baltimore was defunct it ceased to exist.
    End of story

    but it was Purchased & transferred.
    If you transferred it you also transfer the records etc.

    This debate can go the way of which came first the chicken or the egg.

    There is also the fact that records transfers at times are tinkered with
    for example as stated above How are the Ravens an expansion franchise? So we disavow history to make Cleveland feel good?
    Yet that argument works against itself with the Twins-Senators situation as by all right the Senators history did move to Minny but are fans supposed to act like the Senators were never in Washington before 1961 during the 2nd run of the Senators with the team name being the Same & the years continuous without a break.

    Yes I know I did ramble but just had to put some of these thoughts out there & hope for some feedback to clear this up but I know with Both Side having legit points I will be even more confused LOL!

  35. I just saw Devin's comment & that even clouds the matter even more LOL.

    Can a transferred franchise ignore retired numbers yet claim the records & history or has the Nationals just totally disavowed the Expos history totally.

    So the Twins can claim 60 years of Senators history but the Nationals can ignore 35+ years of Expos history?

    This is a hornets nest with every follow up comment.

  36. I disagree with John Thorn's comparison of the Yankees move from Baltimore with the founding of the Giants in 1883. Yes, people did mistakenly believe that the Giants bought the Troy club and moved it to NY, but that is not what happened. They signed a bunch of the Troy players as free agents. But Farrell and Devery bought the club from the AL; the Baltimore club did convey players to the NY club. It is most similar to the Expos moving to Washington, and I believe this site still shows them as the same franchise. Let's have some consistency, Sean.

  37. I wonder how Charlotte basketball fans would feel about the multiple "hornets nest" references here. Since their Hornets franchise is a rehash similar to the Senators, Browns, etc.

  38. Tz I swear it wasnt on purpose! LOL Yet ironic in that is another great case for this debate!

  39. Cliff and I seldom if ever disagree; this may be a first. To me me the criteria are two, as stated above: (1) continuing ownership or direct transfer, and (2) the preponderance of one year's player roster rolling over to the new city. Montreal, like Baltimore, was ceded to the league but its roster was substantially intact for the successor owners. This was not true of Baltimore or Milwaukee, IMHO. When Connie Mack sold to Arnold Johnson, who moved the A's from Philly to KC, the roster was intact so the ownership transfer was not the sticking point. I think I am being clear her but of course folks may disagree. I offer my interpretation not in any official capacity as MLB's historian, but only as one who studied these issues closely before issuing Total Baseball (first edition) in 1989.

  40. John,
    As I pointed out above, New York ended up with 5 of the 12 MLB quality players from the team. That seems like an awfully high amount for a team with no direct relation to the Baltimore team.

  41. Rich, the mathematics by which you get from 39 to 5--and all of them top-notch, no less--seems to me dizzying and designed to serve your preformed conclusion. The Baltimore franchise of 1901-02 died on July 17, 1902, I believe, and the walking dead that were trotted out to play the remainder of the season were the Orioles in name only, propped up in order to preserve the schedule and a season-ending sale. Truly I do not wish to argue with anyone about this. My view is my own and I can substantiate it with method and historical evidence; no one is obliged to concur. As someone above pointed out, the folks in Troy still hold the records of the Trojans should be united with those of today's Giants.

  42. In regards to the 5 players. Since there was no more Baltimore team they had to go somewhere if they were to continue playing.
    Were they free agents without contacts? Did NY just offer them the best deal needing players? That would aid the Separate Franchise argument.
    But if they were bound to go to NY then its a continuum as a franchise.

  43. I'm also curious about the Orioles' other assets. What happened to their equipment? Their books and paperwork? Financial capital? If this stuff was packed up and carted off to the Bronx, wouldn't it be just as important as the retention of the former club's players?

    One thing's for sure: when the game's official historian is telling us there's valid reasons to change our position on how something happened and we still refuse to accept it, you can't say purism is dead.

  44. Tim

    No disrespect to John, but when you live in a country that second guesses its leaders (I worded it purposely that way to avoid any political talk breaking out LOL) everyday of course people will question the Baseball Historian. We were not raised to just follow the leader, we are q curious & questioning society.

    Plus this is sports & of all things including politics I think sports is the most debated subject. From Yankees-Mets to DiMaggio-Williams debate is one of the basis of being a sports fan.

    I am sure John built his knowledge through a life of questions & debates. Unless someone comes at him in a personal attack I dont think he takes it as an affront because people ask questions about his findings & as a historian I would guess he enjoys debate. I am sure there have been times something gets discovered because of debates/discussions bringing it out into the light.

    John says the valid reasons are A-B-C but Others bring up D-E-F for counters. Also this is an over 110 year old matter so I am sure there is more info that could shed more light on this that will be discovered in how many years or just has been lost to time.

    I am not a poster on these boards but just found the topic interesting & every time I check back I either see another point or maybe read a point I missed on the first read.

  45. John,

    FWIW, I had no particular opinion on this matter until I did that bit of research. If I had game logs available to check, I would tend to agree on your point about the team effectively being disbanded on July 17 as that was when I found an article about McGraw and the others leaving. It also appears they forfeited their game that day. Still seems a bit different than say Worcester to Philadelphia in 1882-1883 since those two teams shared no players at all.


    That's a very interesting point regarding whether players were bound to go to NY. One thing I noticed from the article I found is that Jimmy Williams was expected to jump to Cincinnati in July but seemingly never did. I'd be curious to find information on that.
    I also wonder if maybe HOF Robinson simply didn't want to move with the new team and elected to retire.
    Edit: Seems he managed the Orioles of the Eastern League. Haven't yet found what circumstances led to that though.

  46. The American League had 8 franchises, one of which was located in Baltimore. The league sold that franchise to a buyer who chose to locate the same franchise in New York. That choice of location of the same franchise does not change the historical fact that the franchise that had been purchased had been located in Baltimore in 1901 and 1902.

  47. Mark Armour Says:

    Many people seem unaware of how the American League worked in those days. When the Orioles disbanded, league president/czar Ban Johnson determined to put a team in New York. He did not sell it to a guy who said, "gee, I think I will move to New York now." This is not how it worked. Ban Johnson decided where the teams would play, and, in many cases, who would own those teams, manage those teams and play on those teams.

    When Johnson decided to put a team in New York, he found owners for the club, and then instructed the other seven teams to leave the Baltimore players alone. If Ban Johnson had decided he wanted Cy Young to play for the Highlanders, Cy Young would have played for the Highlanders. If he had decided to put a team in Pittsburgh (which he very nearly did), he might have taken the Tigers franchise away and started a new team in Pittsburgh (likely with some Tigers players).

    Also, that was the summer when the two leagues made peace and many players who had jumped from one league to another were sorted out by agreement between the leagues. In particular, Johnson saw to it that players like Jack Chesbro and Jesse Tannehill (who had jumped to the AL without regard for what team they were jumping to) ended up in New York.

    What we now think of as the "major leagues" -- the two stable eight team circuits that defined baseball for decades -- that all began, and took hold, in 1903. 1901 and 1902 were chaos.

  48. John,

    I'm sorry but this is a slippery slope and even your own replies on this board hasn't helped. You said the Baltimore franchise died on July 17, what does that mean for the Baltimore team that played games from July 18, 1902 to September 29, 1902? Are they another team entirely? So now are we adding 3 distinct teams out of the entire franchises history? Is it now the Baltimore Orioles of 1901 to July 17, 1902, the Baltimore Orioles of July 18, 1902 to September 29, 1902, and the New York Yankees as 3 completely separate franchises? You never addressed the issue of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Lousiville Colonels mentioned above....are they now all one franchise? How about the Detroit Tigers on May 18, 1912 that fielded replacement players since the original players went on that a different franchise that existed for one game? Using the massive player overhaul argument that could be the case, right? Also, of the 5 players who remained from the 1902 Baltimore Orioles and played the next year for the New York squad....what was their contract status? Did any of them have multi-year contracts (I'm guessing not but it's a possibility) and if not they were still bound by the Reserve Clause that bound them to their team for another season...isn't that further illustration that the Baltimore Orioles did not go defunct but just simply moved to New York in 1903? The contracts continued....therefore, the franchise continued.

    I do, though, agree it's silly for the 4 franchises to ignore their origins in the old American Association (I've always thought that)....just as much as I think it's silly to somehow think the 1901-02 Baltimore Orioles are a different franchise than the New York Yankees.

  49. The original Baltimore Orioles had to be disbanded to allow for the creation of a new team in New York. Based on that, there is a connection between the end of the Orioles and the existence of the team that would one day be known as the Yankees.

    That said, John Thorn is correct. They are two different franchises. The recordkeeping by the Yankees organization, which is a business, starts in 1903. The Yankees never considered themselves to have any connection to the Orioles, so I'm not sure why history did. It's slowly being corrected.

  50. Tim @43, none of the Orioles' other assets were transferred to the eventual NY team. In fact, three months before the start of the 1903 season the NY team didn't even exist. No owner, no manager, no ballpark, no players. Nothing. It was all created in a matter of months once Ban Johnson put the pieces in place to proceed.

  51. Folks, be assured that I am not offended because some may disagree with me. Occasionally this is true in my own household. All the points raised are interesting even if, to me at least, unconvincing. Mark Armour's comment above (#47) seems to me especially apt.

  52. Are there any good books on Ban & the forming of the AL?

    This topic has got me wanting more info LOL

  53. To Joe (#52): read Harold and Dorothy Seymour's Baseball (vols 1 &2). Sill unequaled after all these years.

  54. I did just find this from an article in the Cleveland Leader on Aug 27, 1902:

    "Manager Clarke Griffith, of the White Stockings, after a lengthy conference with President Ban Johnson in Philadelphia, on Sunday, acted as the representative of the league and signed Al Selbach, Jimmy Williams, and Gilbert, of the Baltimore team to contracts for the season of 1903. The players, it is said, were given to understand that the franchise of the Baltimore club would be transferred to New York and all hands signed by the Baltimore management switched over there."

  55. some other articles
    August 29, 1902 Worcester Daily Spy (Worcester, MA)
    Clark Griffith Will head New York Team
    another article that says Baltimore's franchise will be transferred to New York

    Feb 21 1902 Cleveland Leader
    (in reference to Johnson) "He has recently given out hints about a ten-club circuit with Cincinnati and Pittsburg as the supposed objective points, but he has always preferred an eight-club league, and if Baltimore can be shifted to New York the continuance of the ban on Sunday ball in Cleveland would give a good excuse to get Cincinnati in line in an eight-club circuit."
    So as early as Feb, the plan was to move Baltimore to New York.

  56. @MikeD
    "The Yankees never considered themselves to have any connection to the Orioles, so I'm not sure why history did. It's slowly being corrected."

    What does that have to do with anything? A lot of teams that clearly move barely acknowledge their past. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    #50 Are you sure about this? I've found articles in August of 1902 declaring Clark Griffith to be the manager for the team. There's also this from the October 27, 1902 Evening Star in Washington, DC:

    "The plan in a nutshell is this: The Baltimore team, strengthened by the addition of certain members of the last year's Pittsburg National League team, is to be transferred to New York"

    The rest of that article discusses trying to play Sunday games in NJ

  57. Rich, you are relentless but off point. The intention to place an AL franchise in NY was first aired in 1901--not 1902--but all that counts is the deed, which was not done until 1903.

  58. Hideisalive Says:


    This massive response and argument is at least partially BBref's fault. Instead of explaining the whole situation they simply mentioned the number of Orioles on the Highlanders the following year which is the weakest of possible evidence for this.

    If they wanted to do this they should have posted a full explanation, instead they've opened themselves up for this.

    I respect the things you are saying in here, and they should have put far more evidence in the post as clearly people aren't immediately comfortable with this concept.

  59. Devin Clancy Says:

    Should bbref consider separating the '69 Pilots or 1901 Brewers from the teams that played the next season? Would that sort of consistent rules for 20th century clubs help the situation?

  60. Bravo, Hideisalive.

    I remain curious, as I've written earlier in this thread:

    It is stated that the change was precipitated by the impending 10,000 win benchmark. Is this something Sports Ref has been thinking about a while or, perhaps, was the impetus a suggestion from outside Sports Ref?

  61. There is no "fault" to be identified here whatsoever. When Total Baseball split the Baltimore and NY AL franchises in 1989, and MLB subsequently endorsed the encyclopedia, MLB's de facto position was the one BB-Ref endorsed the other day--they were the last kids on the block to come along. Controversy often follows the announcement of official or respected positions--frankly the current dustup is NOTHING compared to the ruling that the original policies on walks as, first, outs (1876) and then hits (1887) would be restored. And the teeth-gnashing and garment-rending here pales before the one that still characterizes the 1969 decision to date the beginning of Major League Baseball in 1876 rather than 1871, as had long been the standard. I am pleased to be old enough to have been embroiled in all of these controversies. Who here recalls the consternation over the initial decision of the Baseball Encyclopedia (1969) folks to credit Babe Ruth with 715 homers? Or Total Baseball's reduction of Ty Cobb's lifetime batting average to .366? This is interesting fun, all of it. And each individual may come to his or her own conclusion. Baseball records have always been a glorious mess. Maybe I will post at Our Game the "History of Major League Baseball Statistics" that Pete Palmer, Joe Wayman and I wrote many moons ago.

  62. Hideisalive Says:

    John, all that is true but you're missing my point.

    All I said was BBref should have explained the situation more. That's all.

    I'm not assassinating your findings on the matter.

  63. Sorry, but I think I've found the smoking gun. I'm going to make a screencap when I get a chance but here is the text from an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer from March 10, 1903:

    "Baltimore franchise will be formally transferred to Gotham and all details announced"

    I don't think "formally transferred" means the team was disbanded

  64. Which, if the official position has been this way since 1989, means that baseball has been wrong for 25 years now

  65. Mark Armour Says:

    This means basically nothing. The AL had a franchise "slot" for Baltimore. With Baltimore abandoned, they had a free "slot" and gave that franchise (or: formal recognition of a club) to New York. The legal niceties were wrapped up in March, but New York knew they had the slot the previous August, if not sooner.

    I am a paper boy who is restricted to having 50 customers. One of the customers quits. Now I have an available "franchise". I find a new customer. Much paperwork would ensue, but the two customers have nothing to do with another. The first customer did not move to a new house.

  66. One of the customers didn't "quit"

    It was formally transferred to another location. Sorry, but your metaphor doesn't hold.

    Also in the previous August, it was also said the Baltimore club would be transferred to New York.

  67. I agree with Mark. This means nothing at all--not even a popgun let alone one that smokes.

  68. Bahomebrew Says:

    I think the point here is that the waters are murky, the association between the two organizations not completely clear cut. For anyone to take a stance that dissociates the two is a shame, because it is not simply new York history, it is history, and that of new York and the original orioles are inextricably linked. Only a promoter would seek to make such delineations, because of expedience. I'm unsure how to count the wins and losses but it is clear the object here is to statistically separate the two, but ultimately the price of this may well be a revision of the historic connection of these two teams. As a Baltimore native when I first learned of the team of the 1890's it was a revelation and I was proud of their accomplishments and the example they set for their community, indeed what a team to represent the people of baltimore. Of course to then learn that they sired the new York highlanders was a revelation of a different sort and maybe that's the real target of this reevaluation.

  69. Bahomebrew Says:

    In response to a comment about 1901 and 1902 being chaos, so 1903 is the real year it came together. the intent was there before 1903 and in existence, albeit chaotic. Perhaps we should celebrate our independence from the end of the revolutionary war and not from the day we declared independence because of all the chaos that ensued, or maybe strike the years from 1861 to 1865 from public record for being too chaotic. Not particularly strong argument. New York refusing to acknowledge their roots is not surprising, many an individual have tried to retell the past or dissociate to help reinvent themselves, but there is always a bigger picture and the role of historians should not be to help mlb or new York in these reinventions, but rather tell the continuous story minus the bias.

  70. How does "formally transferred" mean nothing at all? At first, I thought I was discussing this with reasonable people who would view evidence that counters their own thinking as worthwhile.

    Instead what I find is that you are smarmy, dismissive people who find that their opinion is above that of others.

    How is that article not even a "pop gun", pray tell? Can you offer more insight instead of just brushing it aside? That article DIRECTLY REFUTES what you are saying, and it's an article from the time it happened. Not people 100 years later trying to rewrite history as they see fit.

  71. […] the Baltimore Orioles of 1901-02 from those of the successor franchise, today’s New York Yankees ( It is delightful to see so much passion exhibited in the Comments section over a decision with […]

  72. […] It’s been a rough year for the Yankees. First they lose four-fifths of their opening day starting rotation to injury, and now the first two years of the franchise’s existence have been erased from the team’s record book at […]

  73. My thoughts on the topic summarized in the link, but by technical legal definition, the two teams were probably different entities, but by practical baseball history standards (which should govern here), the connection is very strong.

  74. What an interesting discussion... certainly the most responses I can recall in a long time to a post on bbref!!! I honestly don't have a really strong opinion on either side of this issue. I don't think it matters all that much. I don't remember any Yankees Franchise searches I've done using the Play Index which will now change with the exclusion of the 1901 and 1902 seasons. lol.

    I will say this- I've known and respected the name John Thorn for years. I don't have a clue who this "Rich" is making comments on here, but I must agree 100% with his recent post. He is providing solid research and is getting dismissed like a little two year old child by those who disagree! That reply by Mr. Thorn to him is incredibly pathetic!

  75. Mark Armour Says:

    I do not speak for John, of course.

    Speaking for myself, I have spent many hours researching this topic. Many people have spent more than I have, including John, Gary Gillette and others. When reading literally hundreds of contemporary articles about this, you find that the wording chosen by the individual reporters/writers/columnists/headline writers to be often contradictory -- I do not believe that they are "right" or "wrong" as much as I believe that the person writing this headline did not think "better use the right word just in case someone 112 years from now uses it to argue details on the internet."

    I think the facts are clear, but the interpretation of those facts is not.

    But after spending a few months on this a few years ago, it is a little disconcerting when someone does a Google News search and proclaims that he found a Smoking Gun. Sorry.

  76. It's very nice that you did months of research. It'd also be nice if you provided any info about said research rather than belittling those who opinions differ from yours. There are SEVERAL looses ends here:

    1) The claim that almost no players made the transition is simply not very accurate. The Orioles of 1902 were bad. Obviously they weren't going to keep players not even worthy of the Major Leagues on it when debuting the team in a new city. This is not like Worcester to Philadelphia in 1883 where no players are the same. There was also no reserve clause yet so the players had no obligation to stay.

    2) The post from above points out that Johnson had planned from the beginning to move the Orioles from Baltimore to New York from the beginning. McGraw thought he was a part of those plans, and when he learned he wasn't, he decided to make a plan to skip town and head to NYC on his own.

    3) That same post also points out that the league probably would have still owned the NY franchise (much like they had owned the Baltimore franchise) had there not been political pressure to award the team to owners backed by Tammany Hall

  77. @75 Tim, thanks

  78. Hideisalive Says:

    I still want to know more about Baseball Reference's decision rather than a bunch of people in the comments defending the move...They really should have explained themselves.

  79. I second hideisalive. And hurry, please. The Yankees may or may not have accomplished 10,000 wins within the next few days!

  80. So the Montreal Expos were run by MLB for YEARS prior to 2004, and yet they are still considered one and the same as the Nationals? Oh...right...the Expos/Nationals aren't the "27 rings" dynasty that can do no wrong. This decision puts the Hall of Fame's corruption to least there is (for now) a good chance that ARod will no more see Cooperstown than Barry Bonds.

  81. Charles Saeger Says:

    Good grief! Everyone involved with this/these franchises is dead and so are most of his kids. You would have thought BB-ref was doing something like changing Honus Wagner's hit totals to be more in line with the dailies or something.

  82. Juan Jose Says:

    Rich show us a lot of testing material with the word "moving to" that is ok but the intentions or plans that they had before the move is one thing and the move itself other. I respect Mr Thorn a lot he is THE researcher about baseball, but their argument of the number of players is weak for me. But this is a very hard to tell topic, but one ray of light to answer this is the documents. We hace to go back to January 1903 when Ban Johnson and the NL signed the "peace agreement. One of the topics was the "influence zone of each league" the NL had New York as one of their zones. When the agreement is done, Ban Johnson banned this because he refused to give NY zone exclusively to NL. And he pacted with the NL and gave the Pittsburgh zone. What is the meaning of this? In January Baltimore showed as AL exclusively zone, but Ban Johnson planned move his influences to NY. At these time the Orioles had a lot of problems since the demote of John McGraw in 02, not only for his leadership but also for his money (he was a part owner of the Baltimore) and in one article published in Dean Sullivan's compilation, McGraw was the main reason for businessmen can invest in the franchaise.
    If the franchaise was relocated BY THE INFLUENCE OF BAN JOHNSON the Orioles and Yankees relation is broken.
    Ban Johnson needed a franchaise in NY and at the same time the Orioles went bankrupt. If the Orioles had been healthy economically, anyway Ban Johnson would have put a franchaise in NY.
    The link is done. The Orioles fade out at the same time while Ban Johnson promoted a franchaise in NY

  83. The perception of many sports writers and fans at the time regarding what happened should be given far greater weight than whether a franchise "disbanded" or whether it was "transferred" as would be viewed by a court. Growing up I was told that my grandfather hated the Yankees because they had been moved from Baltimore. If Ban Johnson had wanted to keep the Orioles in Baltimore, he could have done so but instead chose to move the franchise to New York. It is pretty clear to me that for all practical purposes the franchise that had been located in Baltimore had been moved to New York. For all these reasons, I agree with William's comments (no. 74).

  84. One more thought. If the franchise was indeed "disbanded" but Ban Johnson had chosen to reconstitute it in Baltimore rather than in New York, no one would suggest that the new Baltimore team would have been a separate franchise and that the records established in 1901 and 1902 should be separated from the the records created for 1903 forward. But that is essentially what is being done here on the legal theory that the business entities were different.

  85. As a fan, i think that this decision stinks! I really do and i think that it is a smack against history. It really is. As a fan, i have been following a thread on, with much excitement, that was titled countdown to 10,000 wins where started the thread stating, using data from baseball reference, stated that the Yankees had to win just 53 games this season to get to 10.000 wins. All season long, I have been counting down the wins. All season long and i was excited. When i woke up this morning i saw the score and said great we're one win away. Then I see this and i can't help but feel like i've been punched in the gut.

    To me, the Old Orioles were the New York Yankees. They've had a continuing linage since 1901 and as far as I am concerned you simply can not ignore the first two years of the Franchise history. You simply can't do that even if the Steinbrenners don't recognize the first couple of years of the franchises history. Just because the the current owner don't recognize the teams history doesn't mean that it didn't actually happen because it did happen. The fact of the matter is that the American League took over the franchise on July 18, 1902 and the team finished out the season. If they had been defunct then they would NOT finished the season. But guess what? They did finish the season and when the season was over Ban Johnson sold the Franchise to a couple of corrupt Tamany Hall Politicians who could run roughshod over John McGraw and John Brush and their corrupt connections.

    To me, that signifies that they were one franchise and as far as i am concerned those wins count. They should count and the people at baseball reference who decided that they shouldn't count have just made a stupid decision that has no basis in reality. Absolutely none. i know won't happen but I think you should win the GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE Medals on Worst Persons tomorrow night. That's how dumb your decision was.

    PS as far as i can tell just because the Steinbrenners don't actually count those wins doesn't mean they didn't happen because they did. I can understand why the team wants to forget those two years but that doesn't mean they didn't happen. You simply can not erase history. You simply can not do it. Otherwise, you'd be a Dalek!

  86. I have great respect for Thorn and others who have done so much research on this issue, but I find this conclusion entirely unpersuasive. The Yankees are one of the original AL teams, and they played their first two years as the Baltimore Orioles, even if the AL had to take them over, and there was "chaos." I can't imagine why you would need to torture the facts to come with any other story.

  87. I read Mr. Thorns blog post on on the Subject that was posted yesterday and i have come to the conclusion that he really doesn't know how to do math. Had kept the Orioles Records as part of the Yankee records the the 10,000th win would have come this week and NOT next month as he said. in addition, depending on how many games they win between now and next September there's a good chance that they don't get it next year either because they may not have a good enough team to win the 85 to 90 games that they're going to need to win to get to 10,000 next year. They just might not have a good enough team. For Mr. Thorn to say that it will come next year is simply ill-informed to say the least.

  88. Michael Leviton Says:

    After reading these comments, post 74 and the accompanying link (especially the last paragraph of the link) best summarizes the situation. And we should remember here that we are baseball fans, not corporation fans.

  89. Mike I agree with you and i think that major league baseball should seriously reconsider and count those 118 wins.

  90. There is, of course, a big difference between changing baseball records to correct, say, Ty Cobb’s hit total and what we are talking about here: the re-interpretation of history. But even in the case of new information crediting Walter Johnson with three additional victories, the Hall of Fame doesn’t change his plaque.

    Ample evidence exists in contemporaneous sources--Baseball Guides, the Sporting News, newspaper accounts--supporting the “transfer,” “relocation,” “sale,” or “move” of the Baltimore franchise to New York. Thousands of citations since then (up until earlier this year when news accounts of the Dodgers 10,000th victory informed readers that the Yankees would be next this summer) have told us what the Baseball History Mafia says is wrong. Perhaps their interpretation right, but why must they insist on changing the plaque?

    I find it curious that Sports Reference has waited until the franchise’s 10,000th victory was imminent to make this announcement. So what’s going on here? I’m not sure. But late next season, or early in 2016, when Steiner Sports issues Yankees 10,000th Victory commemorative game-used dirt, perhaps you’ll think of this wonderful thread.

    By the way, if the Yankees beat the Texas Rangers this afternoon, they will have earned their 10,000th victory. Or not.

  91. The thing is you're not just taking the wins away from the Yankees, you're also taking away all the statistics away from the Yankees. Practically, every statistic. The other day, during the 14 inning marathon, Michael Kay informed his audience on the air that Jacoby Ellsbury's homerun the night before was the 15,000 in Franchise history. Guess what? They no longer have 15,000 franchise homeruns because 56 of those were hit and Baltimore and they no longer count towards the franchise totals. To my mind, that's not right. it's just not right. You simply can not tamper history this way. You simply can not do that. It is just not right. Believe it or not those wins happened even if Baseball says they happened or not. Of course those 153 loses happened as well and I want those back too because loses and those wins are a part of Yankee history and those two seasons in Baltimore are a very important part of Yankee history that can not and should not be ignored. But that, I'm sad to say, is exactly what John Thorn and his ilk are trying to do. It's wrong. It is flat out wrong and I think that Baseball should be ashamed of itself over this. John Thorn needs to resign post haste.

  92. Congratulations to the New York Yankees, whose 4-2 win over the Texas Rangers moments ago represents the 10,000th victory in franchise history, according to some people.

  93. Bahomebrew Says:

    Yankees want to be one of the he original eight but don't want the stigma of the reality of how that came about. As an o's fan I'm glad to see baseball in one of the original eight cities and I think b-more has proved it's passion for baseball in the modern day even if it struggled to do so in 1902. That said I don't see a connection of that team to this modern day team. The original orioles went on to form the highlanders and where I can appreciate those teams played in Baltimore, the pain of separation is there. It is no wonder that a team that originated in Baltimore went on to be the most decorated team in all of sports.

  94. I think to some extent that John Thorn is a bit hypocritical in his stance when he says that Baseball Reference should make the change to reflect how the franchise celebrates its history. That's not what he said when the Pirates got win number 10,000. That's not what he said about the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers got their 10,000 wins a few years ago. He said that those franchise should recognize the wins that they got in the American Association because is officially recognized as being a Major League when it existed even though all three of those franchises chose to ignore that part of their history. That to me is sort of hypocritical of Mr. Thorn.

  95. Charles Saeger Says:

    @95 I think what he's saying is that the Cardinals and Dodgers franchises were intact when they moved from league to league, but the 1901-2 Orioles imploded, and thus the New York Highlanders don't represent that franchise at all, but rather a new franchise. This wasn't uncommon at all in 19th century baseball, but of course was otherwise unknown to later fans.

  96. Except the argument ignores two pertinent facts.

    Number one: During that period of time American League President Ban Johnson owned stock in virtually all eight ball clubs in the American League including the Baltimore Orioles. So when McGraw and Brush pulled there little stunt in July 1902, Johnson stepped in and seized control of the team. They didn't go belly up. They didn't go out of business. In fact, they finished out the season even though the Johnson made sure that the club on the field was never going to be competitive. If they had indeed gone bust then they would have ceased operations. That did not happen. They more or less continued operation until the end of the season where they were sold to Tammany Hall by Johnson.

    Number two: They didn't stop operations after that forfeit. They didn't. if they had then they wouldn't have played anymore games. They just wouldn't play anymore games because that's what happens when a team goes bust. They essentially stop operations entirely and the rest of their schedule is deemed foreit and counted as wins for the rest of the league. That didn't happen in this case. What did happen was the fact that McGraw and Brush made sure that the Orioles didn't have enough players enough players to play game that day. They still had players under contract. They just didn't have enough players under contract to field a team for that game. If they had indeed gone bust they would have let everyone one go. That never happened.

  97. To me, if any player from the Baltimore franchise was contractually bound to play for New York, then it is a continuous franchise. If all players were allowed to play elsewhere, then it is not a continuous franchise.

  98. In summary, bbref has finally made a change that MLB officially made back in 1989 in Total Baseball, which eventually became recognized by MLB as the official record book. The question is, "Why have teams and MLB been relying on Baseball Reference for these numbers instead of the official MLB statistical repository?"

    This just seems like bbref has done some long overdue housekeeping, and that the league and teams just use whichever resource supports the particular story they want to tell at any given moment.

  99. I think part of the confusion stems from using the word "Franchise". Franchise is a bit of a misnomer, as a franchise is a property right - the privilege of a spot in the league granted by the league. There is little doubt that the 'franchise' spot in the AL was transferred from Baltimore to New York.

    A better name however for what we're really talking about would probably be 'team continuity'. What constitutes team continuity? I think John Thorn's definition is a little too cut and dried. Perhaps these things should all be considered:

    1. Did the team remain in the same city, or change city? How far did it move?
    2. Did the team move to a new park?
    3. Did the team change its name?
    4. Did the team changes leagues?
    5. Did the team have any roster continuity (same players)
    6. Did the team change ownership?

    There are probably others, but these will usually get you an answer for most cases, except maybe a few 19th century ones, where teams moved mid-season, were sold, had new players, but picked up the W/L record of the former team....

  100. Emmett McAuliffe Says:

    Bravo. And they need to do this to separate St. Louis Cardinals National League from St. Louis Browns American Association. Even merchandise sold at Busch Stadium today has "established 1892" all over it. This is what the Post-Dispatch had to say about the National League Browns, March 20, 1892:

    A Team Composed . Almost Entirely of
    New Players.

    "The st. Louis club for this year Is practically
    a new team so far as lts members are
    concerned. Only one man who played with
    the Browns In 1891 will be on the taam of 1892.
    This Is pitcher Breitenstein, and be played
    only a short time at the close of the season."

  101. oneblankspace Says:

    A similar question arises about the 1916 Cubs, who were essentially a merger of the 1915 Cubs and 1915 Whales (Federal League). I blogged about it a few years back.

    Chicago's Northside Baseball Team

    It is interesting to note that the Cu** are celebrating 100 years of Wrigley Field when the 1914 Cubs played elsewhere.

  102. Butch Haber Says:

    I'm Curious, Sean, When I Use Baseball Reference. Com To Look Up Stats For 1901-1902, Balt. Orioles, How Do I Do It? Under Yankees, Or Orioles? Reply, Please!! You Are The Greatest, Sean Forman!! You Belong In The Baseball HOF!! My Friends,
    Cliff Blau, And John Thorn, Are Also Great!!

  103. Butch Haber Says:

    BTW, Sean, How Do You Classify My Beloved Mont. Expos/Wash. Nats? As 1 Franchise, Right? Reply, Please!!

  104. Butch Haber Says:

    BTW, Sean, How Do You Classify My Beloved Mont. Expos/Wash Nats? As 1 Franchise, Right? Reply, Please!!

  105. Detroit Jake Says:

    Rich, you won! Tim (#75) you are an upstanding. BBRef could choose to be impartial by allowing the definition of franchise/team in its search tools and not defined by the temporary owner. F Bill James, F the Yankees, F the Ben Aff-soxs. Baseball existed before the MLB corporation. We do not need John Thorn to set definitions.

  106. Stentorian Says:

    I believe KJOK #100 makes a good point. Certainly the history of the Yankees franchise is inextricably linked to the 1901-02 Orioles club. However, the question of whether or not the Yankees business enterprise was an extension of the Orioles business enterprise is a separate question, and, in point of fact, a legal question. When a business is bought, sold, merged, etc. the assets of the business, including, but not limited to, employee contracts, leases, financial records, stock, etc. are part of the transaction. If this was the case in the instance of the move from Baltimore to New York one can conclude that the Orioles, in a legal sense, became the Yankees. If there exists insufficient evidence of this manner of transfer of assets it is fair to conclude that although a franchise shift occurred that a business transfer did not.

    While the various newspaper references are of interest, I doubt the reporters were doing anything more than reporting on the shift of the franchise. What I'm suggesting is that more intensive research is needed into mundane issues such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, corporate resolutions, etc. before a definitive, historical conclusion can be stated.

    What's better than baseball?

  107. @ Stentorian

    In the link I posted above, I reference two articles about court cases dealing with assets of the Orioles being placed into receivership.

  108. Going back to post #39, I don't see that John and I disagree, since he states in the linked article that the Baltimore club was sold to Devery and Farrell for $18,000, thus providing direct continuity of ownership. And all of the (very few) players under contract to Baltimore at the time of the sale became NY players. So he must agree with me that they were the same club.

  109. This has been a fantastic thread. I learned a lot. It is apparent to me that a good argument can be made for both positions. I do wonder why the 1901-02 Orioles were not separated from the Yankees long before now? If the "two franchise" argument is so compelling, why wait until 2014 to do the deed?

    The folks who can best shed light on the discussion are long since dead. Given the murkiness of the situation and the long time delay, I think this move does history a grave disservice.

    I get that the Yankees have their own internal reasons for doing what they do. It is a business decision from their perspective, hence their wishes should have no bearing on the situation.

  110. Dvd Avins Says:

    The team, the business, and the membership in an organization of teams are three different things. Technically, the word "franchise" refers to the last. And so technically, the Yankees and the early AL Orioles are the same "franchise". But in reality, people lump the three things together, which calls for decisions that can't be perfectly correct from all perspectives (Mr, Thorn's assertion of clarity notwithstanding).

    The decision here seems to be based on team (the players, mostly, though the laundry counts, too.) I'm OK with that, but perhaps it would be better of some of the folks who feel so sure they're right on both sides take a step back and realize the inherent problem in treating continuity a binary (yes or no) piece of information.

    From a business point of view, the Cubs date back to the Whales of the Federal League, not to the early NL Cubs. It's unlikely that continuity will ever be recognized as a single "franchise", but it would have been a good idea for the Cubs and MLB to make something more of it with the centennial of Wrigley Field.

  111. Dvd Avins Says:

    @100. Sorry, Kevin. You already said pretty much what I did, but I hadn't seen you post yet when I wrote mine.

  112. I think the whole problem stems from Thorn making up his own definition of what a franchise is. He says it has to be the same teams that are sold are brand new...doesn't hold water to me. He also says if the MAJORITY of players...(I'm not sure why he says that) doesn't transfer then it's a new team. Well it's obvious that the quality playerss did transfer and the ones that didn't pretty much never played again or retired or were sold previously to other teams. Ban Johnson in my opinion did a terrible job in the first place by letting two teams raid the Orioles to begin with.

    It is quite obvious that this is a continuous franchise and I don't see how that can be argued.

  113. Carlos3000 Says:

    Part of the problem with debate as a whole is exhibited here perfectly. When positions are taken and "evidence" is given to lend weight to the argument for the benefit of one side or the other, then it degenerates into a debate of, not the actual origin of the dispute, but rather the merit and context of that individual piece of "evidence". The ONLY thing that truly matters here is not, continuity of ownership, preponderance of players playing with NY in 03 that played with Baltimore in 02, nor newspaper writer's perspectives. It is simply this, were the Owners of NY in 1903 given access to assets (player contracts, equipment, other personnel etc...) and/or given the right of first refusal of those assets that belonged to Baltimore of 01 and 02. The answer to that question SHOULD be the ONLY determining factor. The reason for this seems simple, to me at least. There are only TWO options here. Either, 1903 New York was an expansion team, or they were a relocated franchise under different ownership. It seems pretty obvious to me that the evidence shows that NY was given right of first refusal of Baltimore's assets (the players they chose to keep) and therefore were not an expansion team , by definition. To me that is the crux of the matter and it renders all else irrelevant.

  114. Dvd Avins Says:

    Other considerations may be irrelevant to you, but when those assets were minimal--were nowhere near the bulk of what would allow new ownership to field a team as an ongoing business, I see no reason why that should be irrelevant to someone who is not you.

  115. Carlos3000 Says:

    Missing the point. Regardless of how minimal those assets were, in your opinion, the fact that those assets were "transferred" is the only issue of relevance. That, by definition, is the continuation of a franchise and not an expansion team that would start from scratch.

  116. Dvd Avins Says:

    I didn't _miss_ anything. Rather, I disagree. When the previous assets are effectively a throw-in to the new owners, they do not have the same significance as they would if that's what the team continued to be built on.

    Here, go set up a pizza place. I used to have a pizzeria client in this town. But building burned down and the oven was repossessed. The customer list was only an a computer that was lost in the fire and the old phone number's been reassigned. But they did have new tables and chairs on order when the fire happened, and since I want a new client in town, I'll arrange for the furniture to be delivered to you if you can open by April.

    Does that make your business the same as the last one?

    I'm not saying it's cut and dried. I"m saying that if you think cut and dried formulas cover all situations, it's you who's missing the point.

  117. Carlos3000 Says:

    But you are missing the point. When you are dealing with history, there needs to be some very distinctive parameters that should be adhered to. Once you say "well I don't think the players that were transferred were any good, so that changes everything", then it becomes subjective and not history but just opinion. So following your logic if one of those players developed into a HOFer then it would be a continuation of a franchise??? There are only 2 options. Either the 1903 Highlanders were an expansion/new team or they were a continuation of the Baltimore team. The fact that they had access to Baltimore's assets, no matter how underwhelming those assets may have been in your opinion, then they were a continuation of the previous team. I think it is telling that the farther removed from that time, the more revisionist this gets and the more that what was an accepted fact during the time-frame that it actually occurred and for many years afterwards gets ignored. To each his own, I don't really have a dog in this fight but subjectivity applied to history, while it does happen across all topics, is a pet peeve of mine. It either happened or it didn't and trying to apply subjective criteria is a slippery slope. IMHO.

  118. Stentorian Says:

    In view of the fact that the Baltimore assets and liabilities were disposed of in bankruptcy and never taken on by or awarded to New York (link 74 - thank you William) I must conclude that the Baltimore business entity never became the New York business entity and that the Yankees/Highlanders are not the extension of the Orioles. The fact that Ban Johnson may have arranged to have some of the former Baltimore players go to New York or that he had the New York owners buy the franchise spot in the American League previously held by Baltimore does not, in my view, constitute evidence of a continuity between the Baltimore and New York clubs sufficiently strong to warrant inclusion of Baltimore team records with New York team records. I certainly respect that many posters disagree and recognize the valid points raised, but I believe the salient issue is the disposition of all the team property, not just the disposition of the 5 players.

    I would, by extension, conclude that the Yankees/Highlanders have not yet achieved their 10,000th win or their 15,000th home run, and that the club is not an original American League entrant. I suppose they will have to be satisfied with being the most successful expansion team ever.

    This has been a great string. Let's get to the bottom of the Cubs/Whales/White Stockings issue.

  119. If continuity of the majority of the roster is such a key factor here, then I put forward the notion that the 1998 Marlins should be considered a separate and distinct franchise from the 1997 Marlins.

  120. Carlos3000 Says:

    Stentorian, very logical and strong points. That is what my point has been all along. That the only determination that SHOULD matter is if there was continuation from Baltimore to New York. If Ban Johnson had decided in 1902 that the troubled Baltimore franchise was going to be moved to NY all along and if they were given access/right of first refusal to Baltimore's assets, including the players, then NY can't be called an expansion franchise, but were in fact a continuation of Baltimore. It is very much one or the other and the relative merit of those assets is irrelevant. If that was not the case and the only tie was that Ban Johnson summarily assigned those five players to an "expansion" franchise, then I would have to agree with you, regardless if those five players included Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson. Joe C, LMAO, very well said and as a Marlins fan (can that still be plural) very sad but very true. :(

  121. This may muddle things even further. I remember at least during the early years of the current Baltimore Orioles franchise, they traced their line of continuity was from the pre-1903 Orioles, not from the St. Louis Browns. Thus, someone other than Ken Williams was the leading homerun hitter in their version of the franchise history. I don't know whether today they recognize any franchise records, if any, that are held by players from the Browns.

  122. Given this can we start listing g Detroit as founded in 1894 since they never moved and are a continous franchise that entire time? Only founding member of the Western League to never move.

  123. Dave Hornstein Says:

    Dave From Detroit Says:

    This move is dishonest. The New York Yankees, originally called the Highlanders when they relocated from Baltimore, are clearly a continuation of the 1901-02 Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles franchise reverted to the American League midway through the 1902 season, then was sold to new owners who relocated it to New York for 1903. Because of the war between the American and American leagues, there was plenty of player movement at this time, jumping back between one league or the other. Because of this, only a few Orioles players were left for the new owners, and they kept a significant portion, then raided National League teams to fill out the rest of the roster. The continuity is clear.

    This is every bit as dishonest as the NFL not counting the records of the original Cleveland Browns as part of the Baltimore Ravens records, instead assigning them to the expansion Browns that came along a few years later. Here the continuit6y is obvious.

  124. Emmett McAuliffe Says:

    #122 Yes this is true. The Orioles recently put all their media guides online going back to 1954. The way they deal with records and history in some of those 1950s books is quite Schizophrenic at times.

    But I understand where they are coming from. The town that you are playing in should be one factor among many factors bespeaking continuity.

    Some of the minor league teams with great traditions were either merged or disbanded during World War I or during World War II. But does anyone want to say that, e.g. the Tampa Tarpons are two different franchises and their records should be separated?

  125. Hideisalive Says:

    This is correct, the current Orioles do not recognize the 1901/02 club, the St. Louis Browns, the 1901 Brewers, or the National League/American Association Orioles in their records. They do acknowledge that they are they same team as the St. Louis Browns...they just keep separate statistical records.

    I actually think its really a shame the Orioles don't acknowledge the National League squad. They should hang their pennants up somewhere in the stadium.

  126. Emmett McAuliffe Says:

    #126 Thanks for the comment.

    Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards has tons of stuff from the NL Orioles, 01-02 Orioles, and IL Orioles. And not much Browns stuff, except to illustrate the "1954 case". It's only natural. I wouldnt expect 01-02 Orioles memorabilia in Yankee Stadium's museum either. ("You mean da Yanks yous'd to be the freakin O's!!?".) The Orioles have never used Browns retro uniforms at Camden Yards. If they did, people would walk out.

    We statisticians can forget that baseball is made up of fans living in proximity to the home team. Without these fans, baseball would be nothing and we would not even be here (B-R).

  127. Hideisalive Says:

    Yeah the Sports Legends Museum is great, but its not run by the Orioles.

    As a side note: Its been very disheartening to learn how John McGraw acted during 1902.

  128. Stentorian Says:

    McGraw knew Ban Johnson was going to force him out, so he decided to cut his own deal and screw Johnson in return. McGraw beat the moguls at their own game. Somebody should make a movie about it.

  129. Emmett McAuliffe Says:

    Stentorian brings up jumping. Due to jumps, the 1902 St. Louis Browns got more of their continuity from the 1901 Cardinals: seven players including several Hall of Famers (but all seven being "All Stars" of their day), plus a manager chosen because of his familiarity with all seven. The result was entirely expected: the 1902 Cardinals dropped from .543 to .418, and the Browns increased from the Milwaukee Brewers team .350 up to .574. Now that is continuity .... proven!

    And if you trace the Cardinals back to the 1899 Perfectos, you will remember that that team was entirely made up of transferred Cleveland Spiders. The most blatant "franchise shift except in name only" of all time.

    Therefore the history of the Baltimore Orioles could well be looked at:
    present-1954 Baltimore Orioles
    1953- 1902 St. Louis Browns
    1900 to 1901 St. Louis Cardinals
    1899 St. Louis Perfectos
    1898-1891 Cleveland Spiders
    Here is where it gets tricky:
    you could either follow the Patsy Tebeau/Jimmy Macaleer/Henry Gruber (20-game winner) line which ends with the 1890 Players League Cleveland Infants (or rather begins with it).
    Or you could take the Cy Young/Ed McKean (scab??) line which takes the continuity back to the first Cleveland Spiders National League team of 1889 which actually has its origins in the Cleveland Blues that played both 1888 and 1887 in Chris Von Der Ahe's (et al) American Association. (Actually Cy Young was a rookie in 1890 and couldnt really be called a scab (-: )

    But the continuity of the Orioles certainly does go to at least to Cleveland national league 1891, if you count players as having anything to do with continuity, which I do not see how you cannot.

    I think a good solution might be to give the current day Milwaukee Brewers the 1901 American League records, 1900 American (minor) League records and the records of the Western League Milwaukee Brewers going back to 1894, for custody and stewardship.

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