A number of the best-known professional sports teams are over a century old. This is particularly true in baseball. The Cincinnati Reds were founded in 1881 when they were known as the Cincinnati Red Stockings. The Chicago Cub were founded in 1871, although they went through several names. That raises the question of whether it is important that a team kept its name since it was launched, or not. Additionally, does a team need to have played in the same city since it was founded? The Los Angeles Dodgers were founded in 1883–but in Brooklyn.
Some storied teams, and in several cases dominant teams in their sports, have disappeared completely, for one reason or another. In many cases, the issue was financial.
In the early days of American professional sports, franchises had owners that couldn’t keep them afloat financially. Some baseball teams in the American Association and National League, the forerunners of the MLB, lasted for just a season or two before being moved, renamed or simply going away. The NFL purged 10 teams after the 1926 season to ensure financial stability.
Many of the best defunct teams played in leagues that competed with the big four that we now have. In the 1970s, the NBA, NHL, and NFL absorbed other leagues in their respective sports. The WHA sent four teams to the NHL in 1979, the NFL and AFL merged in 1970 after playing the Super Bowl as two separate entities, and the NBA took on four ABA teams in 1976. Some WHA and ABA teams were left out of the merger and had to cease operations. Three of the four WHA teams that were brought into the NHL were later sold off and became different teams.
The greatest sports team that disappeared is the Canton Bulldogs. Here are the details:
> Sport: APFA/NFL football
> Years active: 1920-1926
> Win pct.: 0.667
> Championships: 2
Canton, Ohio is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was also once home to one of the greatest early pro football teams. The Canton Bulldogs were a founding member of the American Professional Football Association in 1920, which became the NFL two years later. The Bulldogs won the first two NFL championships in 1922 and 1923, going undefeated both seasons. The new league swelled to 22 teams in 1926, which the league’s president determined was too many to support financially. Canton was one of the teams disbanded to keep the NFL alive, leaving surviving teams like the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers.