There are few thrills that sports fans enjoy more than watching their team hoist the championship trophy. Fans of long-suffering franchises dream of the day when their team shakes off its past woes and achieves the ultimate success.
Those who grew up rooting for franchises like the New York Yankees or Boston Celtics often think about those teams’ seasons as tic or bust, as they have grown accustomed to watching their teams win championships over and over again. But even those teams had to start somewhere.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed past champions in the four major sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL — on the Sports Reference family of sites to determine the year every team won its first championship.
2019 was a big year of firsts in the sports world. Two teams, the Toronto Raptors and St. Louis Blues, won their first-ever titles. And it was the first year since 2006 in which multiple teams won their first championship. In 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes and Miami Heat did.
It is still relatively rare that a team wins its first title. Of the 123 big four U.S. sports franchises, 90 already have a title, while 33 are still trying to hang their first championship banner. Many of the franchises with multiple titles seem to have found the recipe for success that can be repeated year after year, while those without are still searching for that championship blueprint.
It seems that some metropolitan areas that host multiple franchises are fortunate, while others are cursed. For instance, Boston teams have dominated their respective leagues lately, with the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics each winning at least one title in the last decade. These are the best cities for sports fans.
Not all teams that won championships in the early years of the four major U.S. sports leagues are still around. Many teams that won championships in the early 20th century folded during the Great Depression despite on-field success. These are the greatest teams that disappeared.