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.