In this article, we will take a look at the best teams in the four major North American professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB) that no longer exist. This includes teams that have changed their names, locations, both, or no longer exist entirely.
Teams like the original Cleveland Browns, however, who moved to Baltimore and changed their name to the Ravens and were replaced in Cleveland by an expansion team by the same name are not included. Any teams who have moved or changed names since the Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016 are also not included.
Here are the Top 25 Teams That Don’t Exist Anymore:
25. Cleveland Bulldogs (NFL)
The Cleveland Indians were a team founded in 1923, but after owner Samuel Deutsch bought the Canton Bulldogs in 1924, he merged the two teams to form the Cleveland Bulldogs. The Bulldogs would win the NFL Championship in their inaugural season. The team was relocated to Detroit in 1928 and renamed the Detroit Wolverines. The Wolverines were purchased and absorbed by the New York Giants in 1929.
24. Toronto Arenas (NHL)
The Toronto Hockey Club was renamed to the Toronto Arenas in 1918. In that year, the Arenas would win the Stanley Cup. The most notable player for the Arenas was legendary NHL coach, Jack Adams, the namesake for the NHL’s coach of the year award. The very next year, the Arenas would change their name to the Toronto St. Patricks.
23. Frankford Yellow Jackets (NFL)
The Frankford Yellow Jackets were founded in 1899 and joined the NFL in 1924. The Yellow Jackets won the NFL Championship in 1926 with a record of 14-1-2. Their record of 14 wins would be the league record for 58 years until the San Francisco 49ers broke that record with a record of 15-1 in the 1984 season. The Yellow Jackets suspended operations in 1931.
22. Rochester Royals (NBA)
The Sacramento Kings organization was founded in 1923 as the Rochester Seagrams and has had multiple names and locations over the past century. The most successful of these different teams were the Rochester Royals, who were renamed from the Pros to the Royals in 1945 and moved to Cincinnati in 1957. In that time the Royals won two division titles and one NBA Championship.
21. Syracuse Nationals (NBA)
The Syracuse Nationals were founded in 1946 and would go on to win three division titles in their sixteen year history. They would also win the NBA Finals in seven games over the Fort Wayne Pistons in 1955. In 1963 the Nationals were sold to investors, Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman who relocated the team to Philadelphia and renamed them the 76ers.
20. Quebec Nordiques (NHL)
The Quebec Nordiques were founded in 1972 and first played in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Nordiques won the league’s championship, the Avco World Trophy, in the 1976-1977 season. Upon the NHL-WHA merger in 1979, the Nordiques would become a part of the NHL. The Nordiques would win their division twice in the NHL in addition to their two division championships in the WHA. The Nordiques have six players in the hall of fame including Joe Sakic and Guy Lafleur. The Nordiques had the best record in the Eastern Conference in the 1994-1995 regular season which was their last season before moving to Denver and renaming themselves the Avalanche.
19. Washington Senators (MLB)
The Washington Senators were established in 1901, and though were technically called the Nationals from 1905 to 1955, they were referred to as the Senators for their sixty year history. The Senators won the American League Pennant twice and the World Series once during their time in the District of Columbia. The Senators left the District for Minnesota in 1960 and were renamed the Twins. The Senators were replaced in Washington by an expansion team of the same name in 1961 who floundered for years before moving to Texas to become the Rangers in 1972.
18. Hartford Whalers (NHL)
The Hartford Whalers, also known as the New England Whalers were founded as a WHA team in 1972. In their time in the WHA, the Whalers won their division three years in a row (1973 to 1975). The Whalers would also win their conference twice in 1973 and 1978 and the Avco World Trophy in 1973. The Whalers would be moved to the NHL as a part of the WHA-NHL merger in 1979. The Whalers played somewhat flat in the NHL, winning their division only once in eighteen years. In 1997 the Whalers moved to Raleigh to become the Carolina Hurricanes.
17. Los Angeles Raiders (NFL)
The Raiders’ recent move to Las Vegas was not the first time the team had moved away from Oakland. In 1982, Raiders owner, Al Davis moved the team to Los Angeles from Oakland. In their twelve years in Los Angeles, the Raiders won four AFC West Division Championships, as well as an AFC Championship and the Super Bowl in 1983. The Raiders made the playoffs seven of their twelve years in Los Angeles, but Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland after the team was told that they would be given a new stadium but would be required to share it with another NFL team.
16. St. Louis Hawks (NBA)
The Atlanta Hawks underwent multiple name and location changes before settling down in Atlanta, but the franchise’s best stint came when they played in St. Louis. The St. Louis Hawks moved from Milwaukee to the Gateway City in 1955. They won their division six times in their thirteen year history and won the NBA Finals in six games over the Boston Celtics in 1958. The team moved to Atlanta in 1968 where they remain to this day.
15. Boston Braves (MLB)
While in Atlanta now, the Braves had first played in Boston. Though they had many different names while in Boston, they went by the Braves from 1912 to 1935 and then again from 1941 to 1952. In that time, the Boston Braves won two National League Pennants in 1914 and 1948 and a World Series in 1914 in four games over the Philadelphia Athletics. From 1935 to 1941, while still located in Boston, the Braves were called the Bees, and in 1952, the team moved to Milwaukee.
14. Baltimore Bullets (NBA)
The Baltimore Bullets started playing in the American Basketball Association (ABL) in 1944, moved to the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1947, and began playing in the NBA when the BAA absorbed the National Basketball League in 1949. The team got their name from the Phoenix Shot Tower located in Baltimore. The Bullets won the ABL Championship in 1946 and the BAA Championship in 1948. The Bullets failed to produce a single winning record after their BAA Chamionship, and after they traded Ray Felix, 1954 rookie of the year and second African-American All-Star in league history, the Bullets folded in 1954.
13. Philadelphia Warriors (NBA)
The Philadelphia Warriors were founded in 1946 in the BAA. The Warriors won the BAA Championship in 1947 and their division in 1948. The Warriors would become a part of the NBA in 1949 upon the BAA-NBL merger. Over the next 13 years, the Warriors would win their division twice, and they would win the 1956 NBA Finals in five games over the Fort Wayne Pistons. One of the Philadelphia Warriors’ most notable players was Wilt Chamberlain who was a three-time All-Star, named to the All-NBA First team three times, and won the league MVP while in Philadelphia. In 1962, the Warriors would move west to the San Francisco Bay Area.
12. Chicago Cardinals (NFL)
The Chicago Cardinals were one of the founding teams of the National Football League in 1920. In their almost forty year history, the Cardinals won the league championship twice and their division in back-to-back seasons in 1947 and 1948. Intriguingly, the Cardinals would merge with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1944 to field enough players after both teams lost a number of players to serve in World War II. In 1960, the Cardinals moved from St. Louis, and in 1988, the Cardinals moved to Arizona where they remain to this day.
11. Milwaukee Braves (MLB)
The Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953 where they would play for twelve years. In that time, the Braves won National League pennants in back-to-back years in 1957 and 1958 and won the World Series in 1957 in seven games over the New York Yankees. A notable alum of the Milwaukee Braves is Hank Aaron who was named to the All-Star team ten times, won the NL MVP in 1957, and won three consecutive gold gloves from 1958 to 1960 while the team was in Milwaukee. In 1965 the team moved down to Atlanta where they remain to this day.
10. Houston Oilers (NFL)
The Houston Oilers were founded in 1960 as a team in the American Football League. The Oilers would win the AFL Championship in each of their first to seasons in the league. The Oilers would also win the AFL East Division four times, and they made the playoffs five times in their ten years in the AFL. The Oilers would move to the NFL in 1970 upon the NFL-AFL merger. In their twenty-six years in the NFL, the Houston Oilers won the AFC Central Division twice and made the playoffs ten times. One of the most notable Oilers players was Warren Moon who was a six-time Pro-Bowler with the Oilers, 1990 Offensive Player of the Year, and 1989 Walter Payton Man of the Year. The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and changed their names to the Titans in 1999.
9. Toronto St. Patricks (NHL)
The Toronto St. Patricks was the name of Toronto’s NHL franchise from 1919 to 1927. The St. Pats led the NHL in points in the 1920-1921 regular season. The St. Pats made it to the 1921, 1922, and 1925 Stanley Cup Finals and won Lord Stanley’s Cup in 1922. The St. Patricks would be sold to Conn Smythe, the namesake for the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ MVP award, who changed their name to the Maple Leafs.
8. Washington Bullets (NBA)
The Washington Bullets who were previously the Baltimore Bullets, but not the aforementioned Baltimore Bullets, moved to Washington DC in 1973. The Washington Bullets won their division three times in addition to winning their conference three times in five years (1975, 1978, and 1979). The Bullets would also win the NBA Finals in 1978 over the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games. Basketball Hall of Famer, Wes Unseld, played for the Washington Bullets for eight years and won the Finals MVP with the team in 1978. In 1997 the Bullets were renamed the Wizards after their owner, Abe Pollin, said he disliked the team name’s violent overtones.
7. Seattle SuperSonics (NBA)
The Seattle SuperSonics were founded in 1967. In the team’s forty-one year history, the Sonics won their division six times including four times in five years (1994, 1996, 1997, and 1998). The Sonics would also win the Western Conference Championship three times, including back-to-back years in 1978 and 1979. The Sonics also won the NBA Finals in 1979 in five games over the Washington Bullets. After being sold to Oklahoma-based ownership in 2006, the Sonics were moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and changed their name to the Thunder.
6. Canton Bulldogs (NFL)
The Canton Bulldogs were founded in 1904 as a member of the Ohio League. The Bulldogs would win the Ohio League Championship in three consecutive seasons (1915-1917). The Bulldogs moved to the NFL upon its inception in 1920. The Bulldogs would win back-to-back NFL Championships in 1922 and 1923. After the 1923 season, the aforementioned Samuel Deutsch bought the Bulldogs and merged them with the Cleveland Indians to create the Cleveland Bulldogs.
5. Brooklyn Dodgers (MLB)
While the Dodgers played in Brooklyn for seventy-five years, they were not called the Dodgers until briefly in 1913, and then more permanently in 1932. In the fifteen-year period starting in 1932 that they were called the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Dodgers won seven National League Pennants, though, they only won the World Series once in that time in 1955. The Dodgers’ most famous player, of course, is the man famous for breaking the color barrier in baseball, Jackie Robinson. While with the Dodgers, Robinson was a six-time All-Star, 1947 rookie of the year, and 1949 NL MVP. The Dodgers would move to Los Angeles in 1957 where they’ve played for the last sixty-four years.
4. Baltimore Colts (NFL)
The Baltimore Colts were founded in 1953 in the National Football League. The team was named after the horses that would race in the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, and the Colts were also one of the first NFL teams to have cheerleaders, a band, and a fight song. Before the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Colts won one NFL Coastal Division title, five NFL Western Conference Championships, and three NFL championships, one of which led them to Super Bowl III against the New York Jets.
After the 1970 merger, the Colts won four AFC East Division Titles as well as the 1970 AFC Championship and Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys in 1970. The Colts’ most famous player, of course, was Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas who was a ten-time pro-bowler, five-time member of the NFL’s All-Pro First Team, and a three-time NFL MVP. Owner, Robert Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis in 1983. Unitas would denounce the Colts for their disloyalty to Baltimore and align himself with the Ravens upon their move to Baltimore in 1996.
3. Minneapolis Lakers (NBA)
The Minneapolis Lakers were founded in 1947 as members of the National Basketball League. The Lakers were named after Minnesota’s nickname, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” In 1948, the Lakers moved to the BAA where they would win the Championship in 1949. The Lakers would join the NBA in 1950 upon the BAA-NBL merger. In their first five seasons in the NBA, the Minneapolis Lakers won the NBA Championship four times. In their thirteen years in the NBA in Minneapolis, the Lakers won four NBA Championships in five Finals appearances and four division titles. The Lakers would become the first NBA team on the West Coast when owner, Bob Short moved the team to Los Angeles.
2. Philadelphia Athletics (MLB)
The Philadelphia Athletics was established in the MLB in 1901. The Athletics were an absolute powerhouse in Philidelphia, winning nine American League Pennants and five world series, as well as producing twenty-one Hall of Famers in the City of Brotherly Love. The team would move to Kansas City in 1955 where they would remain relatively mediocre before moving to Oakland in 1967 where they would get back to their winning ways.
1. New York Giants (MLB)
The New York Giants were founded as the New York Gothams in 1883. They would not become the New York Giants until they changed their team name in 1885. While in The Big Apple, the Giants won five World Series and a whopping seventeen National League Pennants.
If we subtracted the seven NL titles won by the Brooklyn Dodgers from the Dodgers’ organization and the six NL titles won by the San Francisco Giants from the Giants’ organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Giants would be tied for most NL Pennants at seventeen, second to only the St. Louis Cardinals who have nineteen. The Giants would also produce a whopping forty-three Hall of Famers while in New York. Despite their overwhelming success, the Giants would move West to San Francisco in 1957, the same year as their rivals, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Pierson Scheinberg is a student who lives in California, and attends the College Preparatory School. Pierson lived in Baltimore, Maryland until August 2017 when he moved to the Bay Area. Pierson is an avid golfer who enjoys watching all sports. He is a writer and sports analyst for At the Buzzer.
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