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"I don't no. I never smoked any Astroturf."
--Tug McGraw, pitcher, when asked whether he preferred grass or Astroturf


American League

By Wikipedia

The American League (or formally the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs) is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, that eventually aspired to major league status. The A.L. is often called the Junior Circuit because it was elevated to Major League status 25 years after the formation of the National League. Beginning with the 1903 season, the regular season champions of the two leagues have met annually in the World Series, with the exception of 1904 and 1994. Through the 2005 season, American League teams have won 60 and lost 41 of the 101 World Series played. It should be noted that 26 of those wins were won by the New York Yankees.

At a glance...
League Facts
Established 1893 (as Western League)
1900 (as American League)
1901 (as a major league)
Note 1
Ban Johnson 1901-1927
Ernest Barnard 1927-1931
Will Harridge 1931-1959
Joe Cronin 1959-1973
Lee McPhail 1973-1984
Bobby Brown 1984-1994
Gene Budig 1994-1999

With the demise of the American Association after the 1891 season, the National League expanded to become a 12-team circuit with monopoly status for the rest of the decade. The league became embroiled in internal conflicts, including a plan supported by some owners to form a "trust," wherein there would be one common ownership of all N.L. teams. In 1894, the N.L. established a $2,400 limit on annual player wages. Then, the league contracted to eight teams for the 1900 season, eliminating its teams in Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville, and Washington. Western League President Bancroft "Ban" Johnson felt the time was right to challenge the N.L. monopoly.

See also: 1900 AL, National League, Defunct Leagues.

The Western League renamed itself the American League on October 11, 1899, and placed teams in the abandoned Cleveland market as well as on the south side of Chicago. This was done with the approval of the National League, which did not immediately recognize the potential threat such a move would pose to its monopoly.

During the 1900 season, the renamed A.L. was still a minor league circuit subject to the National Agreement. The league declined to renew its National Agreement membership when it expired in October of 1900, and on January 28, 1901, officially declared itself a major league. It placed teams in Baltimore and Washington, both victims of the N.L. contraction, as well as in Boston and Philadelphia where (as in Chicago) it would compete head-to-head with the older league. (Only Detroit and Milwaukee remained of the original Western League franchises.) The new league began to hire disgruntled National League players. A roster war was on.

The older National League at first refused to recognize the new league, but reality set in as talent and money drained away to the new league. After two years of bitter contention a new version of the National Agreement was signed in 1903. This meant formal acceptance of each league by the other as an equal partner in major league baseball. During the baseball "war" however, the American League moved its Milwaukee franchise to St. Louis in 1902 and the Baltimore franchise to New York in 1903, thus competing with the N.L. in those markets as well.

The American League consisted of the same eight teams from 1903 through 1954, when the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and were rechristened the Baltimore Orioles. In 1955, the Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City (the A's would move to Oakland in 1968). In 1961, the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul and became the Minnesota Twins.

In 1961, the league expanded to ten teams for the first time in its history when the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators joined the league, the latter replacing the original Washington Senators franchise which had just relocated to Minnesota. The Los Angeles Angels went through several name changes and are now formally known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The second Washington franchise moved to Dallas-Fort Worth in 1972 and became the Texas Rangers.

In 1969 the American League expanded to 12 teams when the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots joined the league. (The Pilots stayed just one season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Milwaukee Brewers). With the addition of these teams, the league reorganized into two divisions of six teams (East and West), with the division champions meeting in the American League Championship Series, an additional round of postseason competition, for the right to advance to the World Series. Beginning with the 1994 season, the league has been divided into three divisions (East, West, and Central), with the addition of a wild card team (the team with the best record among teams finishing in second place) to enable four teams to advance to the preliminary American League Division Series.

The league adopted the designated hitter (or "DH") rule in 1973 whereby a team may choose to designate a tenth player (not a position player) to bat in place of the pitcher. Contrary to popular belief, use of the DH is not mandatory. Though maligned by some critics, use of the DH rule has spread to almost every amateur and professional league, the two most notable exceptions being the National League and Japan's Central League.

The third expansion came in 1977, when the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays joined the A.L., which thus became a 14-team league. Finally, in 1998 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays became the fifteenth team to join the American League. Concurrently, however, the Milwaukee Brewers withdrew from the league to join the National League. The simultaneous expansion and contraction kept the A.L. a 14-team league, which it remains today.

For the first 96 years of its existence, American League teams faced their National League counterparts only in exhibition games or in the World Series. Beginning in 1997, however, interleague games have been played during the regular season, and count in the standings.

Through the 2005 season, the Yankees have won the most American League pennants (39), followed by the Athletics (14) and Red Sox (11). Likewise, the Yankees have also won the most World Series (26). Among American League teams, the runners-up are again the Athletics (9) and Red Sox (6).

Team History and Movements

The Yankees were the Orioles originally. The Orioles were the Browns, but were the Brewers originally. The Brewers, who now find themselves in the National League, were the Seattle Pilots years before Seattle got the Mariners. The Rangers were the Senators, but not the original Senators. The Twins were originally an earlier Washington Senators than the Rangers' Senators, but they too were not the original Senators. The A's were in Philadelphia, but where not the original Athletics before moving on to Kansas City. Kansas City along with Tampa Bay (who seem to have dropped the "Devil" from Devil Rays) and Toronto (who are still are the "Blue" Jays and not yet the Rogers' Jays) received expansion franchises and have stayed put. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (as I refuse to refer to them as on this site - except here) were the Los Angeles Angels before becoming the California Angels but later became the Anaheim Angels. The White Sox are not related to the Chicago White Stockings (who are actually now the Cubs) any more than the Red Sox are related to the Boston Red Stockings (who are actually now the Atlanta Braves). Confused? Maybe this will help...

Charter AL Franchises

Starting in 1901, the eight charter teams were the following:

Baltimore Orioles moved to New York (1903) and became the team now known as the New York Yankees
Boston Americans (unofficial name) became the Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Blues became the Naps and then the Indians
Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis (1902) and to Baltimore (1954) and became today's Baltimore Orioles
Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City (1955) and then to Oakland (1968)
Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul (1961) and became the Minnesota Twins

AL Expansion and Relocation

1902: Milwaukee Brewers move to St. Louis, renamed "St. Louis Browns"
1903: Baltimore Orioles move to New York, renamed "New York Highlanders" (later "New York Yankees")
1954: St. Louis Browns move to Baltimore, renamed "Baltimore Orioles"
1955: Philadelphia Athletics move to Kansas City
1961: Washington Senators move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, renamed "Minnesota Twins"
1961: Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators enfranchised
1968: Kansas City Athletics move to Oakland
1969: Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots enfranchised
1970: Seattle Pilots move to Milwaukee, renamed "Milwaukee Brewers"
1972: Washington Senators move to Dallas-Fort Worth, renamed "Texas Rangers"
1977: Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays enfranchised
1998: Tampa Bay Devil Rays enfranchised
1998: Bud Selig moves his Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to join the National League so they can play the Cubs every year

Current AL Teams

American League West

American League Central

American League East

1. The office of American League President was eliminated in 1999, although Jackie Autry, former owner of the Anaheim Angels, currently holds the title of honorary American League president.
2. See commentary on Western League page. The Buffalo, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Minneapolis teams were replaced by teams in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington in 1901, but it is unclear and disputed as to which team went where.

American League sources/bibliography:
American League Story, The by Lee Allen
American League: The Early Years (Images of Sports) by David Lee Poremba
The Formation, Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18 Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present by David Pietrusza.
May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy by Andrew Zimbalist.
Total Baseball: The Ultimate Baseball Encyclopedia by John Thorn, et al.

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As the 'younger' of the two Major Leagues, the AL is known as the Junior Curcuit.

Images of team logos used with permission from Chris Creamer's awesome Sports Logo site.

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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