Major League Baseball (MLB) is the home of America’s pastime. The rich history of the Major League Baseball teams is intricately woven into America’s history. Starting from the creation of the first professional baseball team in 1869 to the official unification of the National and American League as recent as the year 2000, MLB has come a long way.
There are 30 Major League Baseball Teams now (29 in the US; 1 in Canada). Each plays 162 games per season. The regular game-season is from April to September. The playoffs and World Series follow this and continue throughout October and November.
Both the National League (NL) and American League (AL) have gone through massive expansions. In 1962, both the leagues had 8 teams each. Many other teams joined in later. The history of MLB gets further complex ahead. Both the leagues had a three-way split in 1994 with Eastern, Central and Western divisions.
Here we’ve listed out all the teams that currently play under both the leagues. Let’s begin.
Major League Baseball Teams: The National League (NL)
Time has revealed some fascinating quirks for each team under the NL. For example, very few of the teams currently hold the names of their originating clubs. The teams are as follows.
Arizona Diamondbacks (1998, Western)
The original name of this Major League Baseball Team was the “Diamondbacks.” In March 1995, the team was awarded a franchise. This marked their official entry into the NL. They played their first season under NL in 1998. Eminent players of the team including those who have retired are Randy Johnson, pitcher and Louis Gonzalez, outfielder.
Atlanta Braves (1871, Western)
This MLB team originated in Boston and they played for Boston city from 1871 to 1952. Later they shifted to Milwaukee and played till 1965. The team Atlanta Braves came to the field in the year 1966. It’s considered to be the oldest team playing organized baseball. Originally, the Braves played as Boston Red Stockings. From there on, they have gone through a series of alterations in their name.
The bravest of the Braves including retired numbers are Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Eddie Matthews, Phil Niekro, and, John Smoltz, among many others.
Chicago Cubs (1874, Central)
This Chicago MLB team was originally named as the Chicago White Stockings. They joined the National League in 1876. They continued playing with their original name until 1889. There were several name transitions after that. In 1903, they finally settled with the Chicago Cubs.
The most famous players of this Major League Baseball team are Ferguson Jenkins, pitcher, Billy Williams, outfielder and lastly, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and, Ryne Sandberg who were infielders.
Cincinnati Reds (1882, Central)
They were originally part of the American Association and played as Cincinnati Red Stockings from 1882 to 1889. They joined the National League the following year in 1890. They went through several name changes. Starting from the Cincinnati Red Stockings, they became “The Reds”, then the “Redlegs”, then back to the “Reds.”
The Cincinnati Reds have many prominent players. These include infielders like Joe Morgan, Barry Larkin, Tony Perez, and, Dave Concepcion. Other eminent players are Johnny Bench catcher, Frank Robinson, outfielder among several others.
Pete Rose, a Cincinnati Red infielder, is officially banned from playing baseball. Yet, he was inducted into their Hall Of Fame in 2016.
Colorado Rockies (1993, Western)
This team was founded in 1991. However, they found their way into Major League Baseball two years later in 1993 after the expansion club Rockies was awarded their MLB franchise. Officially, no player from this team has retired yet. This Major League Baseball team were winners of the NL pennant in 2007. Time and again, many Colorado Rockies have bagged these prestigious awards in the field of baseball such as Most Valuable Player, or National League Rookie of The Year, Golden Glove or Silver Slugger.
Los Angeles Dodgers (1884, Western)
This team originally came to the field as the Brooklyn Grays playing for the minor leagues’ Interstate Association. In 1884 they joined the American Association under the name the Brooklyn Atlantics. For the next few years, they went through several name changes like the Brooklyn Grooms or Brooklyn Bridegrooms and so on.
They joined as a Major League Baseball team in 1890. They continued to play as Brooklyn Dodgers till 1957 after which they shifted to Los Angeles.
The story of their moving to LA is very interesting. During that time, Los Angeles wanted a Major League Baseball team to be set in the city so they made an offer to Walter O’Malley, majority owner of the Dodgers that he couldn’t refuse. The deal entailed that the team will have the liberty to purchase as much land they wanted to make a stadium which will be practically owned by them.
There are many prominent Dodgers namely, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Jim Jillian and so on.
Miami Marlins (1993, Eastern)
This team started off as the “Florida Marlins” in 1993. They remained the Florida Marlins till 2011. This expansion team officially altered its name in 2012 and became the Miami Marlins. This change happened after a brand new ballpark was constructed in downtown Miami in the year 2012. They even changed their logo and colors after their rebranding.
As Florida Marlins, they won the 1997 and 2003 World Series Championships. According to official records, the team doesn’t have any retired players as of yet.
Milwaukee Brewers (1969, Central)
This MLB team began their journey as the Seattle Pilots located in Seattle. They have a long history behind them.
This expansion team became a part of the American League in 1969. However, the team’s poor performance led to financial problems that crept inside the team. Finally, a week before the Opening Day in 1970, the team declared bankruptcy. It was then bought by Milwaukee Braves owner Bud Selig and renamed as the Milwaukee Brewers.
However, this American League team had to move to the National League in 1998 to balance the number of teams in both the leagues.
Eminent retired numbers of the Milwaukee Brewers include infielders like Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Bud Selig, Rollie Fingers and so on.
New York Mets (1962, Eastern)
The New York Mets originally played in Flushing. This team was granted a franchise in the 1960s by Major League Baseball. This was the time when both the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers left the cityscape post the 1957 season.
The retired numbers of this Major League Baseball Team are: Gil Hodges, infielder, Mike Piazza, catcher, Tom Seaver, pitcher and so on. Among the other notable figures are: Gary Carter, catcher, John Franco, pitcher and David Wright, infielder.
Philadelphia Phillies (1883, Eastern)
The interesting thing about the Phillies is that they have been the oldest one-name, one-city franchise in Major League Baseball. From the very beginning in 1883, they have been playing under the same name and same league.
But the history of the club dates back to 1879 Massachusetts. There they played as the Worcester Ruby Legs under the minor league. After their incorporation into the MLB, they took the name of Philadelphias but immediately changed it to Phillies.
No players from the old Massachusetts came to play in the new franchise. Famous Phillies include Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton, and so on.
Pittsburgh Pirates (1882, Central)
The history of Pittsburgh is quite interesting. This is the place of origin of professional baseball. Early “barnstormers” or independent organizations of players traveled across the country looking for talent. In 1881, such a barnstorming troop joined the American Association under the name Alleghenys. In 1887, this team joined the National League and changed its name to Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Finally, after a squabble with the American Association’s Philadelphia Athletics, the team changed their name to Pittsburgh Pirates in 1912.
The most famous Pirates are: Bill Mazeroski, Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Paul Waner, Ralph Kiner and so on.
St. Louis Cardinals (1882, Central)
This team began their play in 1875 under the name St. Louis Brown Stockings for the National Association. The team joined as a Major League Baseball team in 1876 following the demise of the National Association. However, the team went bankrupt in 1877 following a game-fixing scandal.
In 1882, the Brown Stockings was purchased by Chris von der Ahe and became the first team to be a member of the American Association. But after American Association declared bankruptcy, the team, which was then called St. Louis Browns, was invited into the National League.
The team underwent many name changes and finally stuck with Cardinals as their official name. They have a long list of retired players which include, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith, Rogers Hornsby, Jay Hanna “dizzy” Dean, and so on.
San Diego Padres (1969, Western)
The name of this Major League Baseball team was derived from a minor league team of the same name. The Spanish word “Padres” stands for “father” referring to the Franciscan Friars who were the founders of the city of San Diego.
This team started their MLB season in 1969 along with Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots and Montreal Expos. Among the retired Padres players are Tony Gwynn, Randy Jones, Trevor Hoffman, and, Steve Garvey. Notable players include: Nate Colbert, Benito Santiago, and, Gary Templeton.
San Francisco Giants (1883, Western)
This team began their journey in New York. Their original name was “Gothams.” In 1886, they changed the name to the “New York Giants.” The team had joined the National League way back in 1883. They played as the New York Giants till 1957 after which they moved to San Francisco. The team wanted to build a stadium in New York but the team owner had already begun negotiations with the San Francisco mayor.
After the New York Giants left the city, there was only one baseball team left there, the Yankees. Among the retired numbers of the team are: Monte Ervin, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Willie MCovey, and, so on.
Other notable players are: Felipe Alou, Jim Ray Hart, Tito Fuentes, Chili Davis, etc.
Washington Nationals (1969, Eastern)
This Major League Baseball team was originally called the Montreal Expos, located in Montreal. Professional baseball in Montreal began in 1890 with the establishment of the International Association. 1897, there was a Canadian minor league created by the Montreal Royals. But after the Royals left, the franchise started searching for a team in Major League Baseball. Finally, in 1968, the team was awarded an expansion into the National League.
The Montreal Expos deteriorated in their performance allowing many notable players to leave the team. Their fan-figures dropped significantly. The team also had to survive from a revocation attempt. The team changed drastically after that. They started the 2005 season with the new name Washington Nationals. There are no retired numbers of the team yet according to Nationals’ official data.
Extras: Major League Baseball retired jersey number 42 from all its teams to honor Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers infielder.
Major League Baseball Teams: American League (AL)
Just like the National League, there is its life-long rival the American League. Let’s check out the teams under this category.
Baltimore Orioles (1901, Eastern)
This team was originally called the Milwaukee Brewers and was among the first to be chartered into the American League in 1901. In 1902, however, the team moved to St. Louis to become the St. Louis Browns. In 1954, this originally Browns franchise moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. The name comes from an official bird of Maryland.
Among the retired players are Earl Weaver, manager, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr., Frank Robinson and, Jim Palmer.
Boston Red Sox (1901, Eastern)
The Red Sox also falls under the category of one of the charter teams of the American League. Originally a Boston team, they began their franchise under the name “Americans.” The name remained till the year 1907 after which they changed it to the Red Sox. The name comes from the red stockings which are a part of their uniform. The Red Stockings reside in Fenway Park since 1912.
The retired numbers from this MLB team include: Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, among many others.
Chicago White Sox (1901, Central)
The Chicago White Sox were originally called Sioux City Cornhuskers. Now they’re called the “pale horses” of Chicago. The team was bought by Charles Comiskey who initially moved the team to Minnesota to play under the name St. Paul Saints. In 1900, the Saints shifted to Chicago and became the White Stockings. This name was originally used by the National League team of Chicago. The following year, this Major League Baseball team became the White Sox.
Among reputed retired players are: Nellie Fox, Louis Aparicio, Luke Appling, Frank Thomas and so on.
Cleveland Indians (1901, Central)
This team began to play professionally in Michigan under the name Grand Rapids Rustlers from 1894 to 1899.
Amateur baseball was played in Cleveland before the coming of the major or minor leagues. Such an organized baseball club under the name Cleveland Forest Citys was awarded a professional status in 1869. However, this original team was caught up in turmoil and had to fold in 1872.
The team underwent several changes after it was included in the major league books. They underwent multiple name changes and finally stuck with Indians.
Retired figures include: Larry Doby, Lou Boudreau, Bob Feller, Addie Joss, Bob Lemon and so on.
Detroit Tigers (1901, Central)
This Major League baseball team was also an original charter member of the American League. Detroit Tigers never underwent name changes. They started with the Detroit Tigers and continue to play with that name till date.
Retired players from this team include: Hank Greenberg, Willie Horton, Hal Newhouser, and Harry Heilmann among several others.
Houston Astros (1962, Western)
This is a relatively new member of the American League. Till 2013, they were a part of the National League. This team began with the name “Houston Buffaloes.” Later in 1960, Major League Baseball awarded expansion franchises to the Houston Sports Association under the National League. They had to shift to the American League in 2013 to even out the number of teams in each league.
Retired Astros players are: Jeff Bagwell, Jimmy Wynn, Mike Scott, Larry Dierker and, so on.
Kansas City Royals (1969, Central)
Just like Seattle Pilots, the Royals also began their journey as an expansion team in the American League. The team was named after American Royal (a horse and livestock show held in Kansas every year).
Initially, the team was under the Western Division but later shifted to the Central division. Among eminent retired players of this team are: Dick Howser, George Brett and Frank White.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1961, Central)
The angels have been Angels throughout. But their city has gone through several changes over the years.
1961-1965 Los Angeles Angels
1966-1996 California Angels
1997- 2004 Anaheim Angels
Finally in 2005, they became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Among retired players of this team are: Jim Fregosi, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, Gene Autry and, so on.
Minnesota Twins (1901, Central)
This Major League Baseball team started their journey under the name Washington Senators, playing for Washington. This team is also one of the original charter teams of the American League. In 1960, the city of Minneapolis was allowed to have its own expansion team. This is when the Washington club moved this team to Minnesota, thereby changing the name to Minnesota Twins. The name comes from the Minneapolis and St. Paul twin city region.
Notable retired players include: Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, and, Kirby Puckett among many others.
New York Yankees (1903, Eastern)
You must have heard of the Yankees. They began their journey in Baltimore. Initially, they couldn’t join as a New York team because the National League team New York Giants blocked their path.
They were originally called the Baltimore Orioles. They have been vocal in the disputes between the National and American Leagues. In 1913, the team settled with the name Yankees.
Notable alumni players from this team are: Jorge Posada, Don Mattingly, Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris, and Billy Martin and so on.
Oakland Athletics (1901, Western)
This is an original Major League Baseball franchise. They began their journey as “Athletics” in Philadelphia. This notable team won three straight World Series (1972, 1973, and 1974). Many notable players of this team have made it to the Hall Of Fame.
They first moved to Kansas City and then to Oakland, California. Among eminent retired players are: Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley and, so on.
Seattle Mariners (1977, Western)
The beginning of the Mariners is interesting. They were born out of a lawsuit when the Seattle Pilots relocated to Milwaukee. The lawsuit was regarding a new stadium demand by the Pilots. The stadium was to be created but when the Pilots shifted, there was no team to use it. This is when the new Seattle Mariners took the place. As of now, they don’t have any official retired figures.
Tampa Bay Rays (1998, Eastern)
The original name of this team was Tampa Bay “Devil Rays” but they later shortened it to “Rays” in 2008. If you’re wondering that Tampa Bay is not the name of a city, then let me clarify. The name is used to refer to the Tampa Bay region, namely, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater and Bradenton.
Retired figures of this team are Wade Boggs and Don Zimmer.
Texas Rangers (1961, Western)
The Texas Rangers franchise began their journey in Washington D.C. under the name Washington Senators. They carried this name from 1961 to 1971. Just to clarify: this is different from the original Washington Senators. Major League Baseball expanded this franchise in 1961 and the club was moved to Texas, Arlington in 1972.
Their retired numbers are Johnny Oates and Nolan Ryan.
Toronto Blue Jays (1977, Eastern)
This team started their journey with the home games at the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium. Later they moved to SkyDome (also called Rogers Center) in 1989. Among their retired numbers are: Jackie Robinson and Roberto Alomar.
With this, we come to the end of the 30 teams. If you’re a baseball enthusiast, check out the details to learn interesting facts about these Major League Baseball teams.