A lot of folks – and I’m one of them – have had some fun at the expense of the Athletics baseball franchise, which seems to move around the map like an air hockey puck.
Yes, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland and perhaps now, Las Vegas, not counting a lengthy flirtation with San Jose. But to be fair, the A’s are not the only big league team, in any sport that hasn’t pulled up stakes and moved more than once.
Everyone knows that the Los Angeles Lakers used to be the Minneapolis Lakers (hence the name, Minnesota being the “Land of a Thousand Lakes”), but how many know the franchise originated as the Detroit Gems?
The Clippers, of course, came to L.A. from San Diego but originated as the Buffalo Braves. The Washington Wizards were originally the Baltimore Bullets, later the Washington Bullets. The nickname was changed at a time when the nation’s capital was beset by a wave of homicides.
Over in the NHL, the current Carolina Hurricanes started as the Boston Whalers, became the Hartford Whalers and moved south in 1997.
Some of the more intriguing “moves” were moves that never happened. In 1941, the St. Louis Browns were poised to move from the Show-Me State – where they were perpetually in the shadow of the more successful Cardinals – to Los Angeles, extending big league ball from coast-to-coast.
The deal – which had the blessing of American League owners – would have had the new Los Angeles Browns move into L.A.’s Wrigley Field, home of the then-minor league Los Angeles Angels, who would then relocate to Long Beach.
Date of the official vote was planned for Dec. 8, 1941. By then, California was a potential war zone, and the Browns stayed until 1953 when they moved east and became the Orioles.
Strange things happen. Who knows? Maybe the A’s will end up in St. Louis some day.
Categories: Major League Baseball
The list of teams could be much longer, of course: in the NFL alone there are the Rams, Raiders, Baltimore Colts leaving their hallowed grounds, Cleveland Browns, etc. What’s the common denominator? Have a local city, county, or state build the team a stadium (or subsidize construction) so that owners can make money in a new venue. That’s the so-called “free market.” The A’s have two options in Las Vegas right now while the Arizona Coyotes (formerly Winnipeg Jets) may have worn out their welcome in metro Phoenix.