Special Report

The Year Every Team Won Their First Championship

Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images

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 sitesto determine the year every team won its first championship.

2019 was a big year of firsts in the sports world. Two teams, the Toronto Raptorsand 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 Heatdid.

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 Celticseach 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.

Click here to see the year each team won its first championship.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Anaheim Ducks
> Year of first title: 2007
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1993
> Total championships: 1

The Anaheim Ducks won their first and only championship in 2007, the first year after the franchise’s name changed from The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Arizona Cardinals (as the Chicago Cardinals)
> Year of first title: 1925
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1920
> Total championships: 2

The Cardinals franchise has two titles, won in 1925 and 1947, both in Chicago. The team has struggled to find postseason success since moving to St. Louis and then Arizona.

Source: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks
> Year of first title: 2001
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1998
> Total championships: 1

Arizona Diamondbacks fans did not have to wait long for a title. The team won its only World Series in just its fourth ever season in 2001.

Source: W. W. Somers / The Sporting News Collection / Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta Braves (as the Boston Braves)
> Year of first title: 1914
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1876
> Total championships: 3

The Braves franchise has the rare distinction of bringing a World Series championship to three different cities — Boston in 1914, Milwaukee in 1957, and Atlanta in 1995.

Source: The Sporting News Archives / Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta Hawks (as the St. Louis Hawks)
> Year of first title: 1958
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1949
> Total championships: 1

The Hawks franchise has just one title, won in 1958 in St. Louis. Since moving to Atlanta, the Hawks have never made the NBA finals.

Source: keithallison / Flickr

Baltimore Orioles
> Year of first title: 1966
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 3

The Baltimore Orioles were founded as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, before changing to the St. Louis Browns the next season, then the Orioles in 1954. Before moving to Baltimore, the Browns had just one postseason appearance.

Source: aukirk / Flickr

Baltimore Ravens
> Year of first title: 2000
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1996
> Total championships: 2

After shocking the NFL with a surprise move from Cleveland after the 1995 season, the Baltimore Ravens quickly rewarded their new fans, winning the Super Bowl after the 2000 season.

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Source: Hendrik Seis / Wikimedia Commons

Boston Bruins
> Year of first title: 1929
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1924
> Total championships: 6

One of the NHL’s original six franchises, the Boston Bruins won their first of six Stanley Cups in 1929.

Source: The Sporting News Archives / Jack O'Connell / Wikimedia Commons

Boston Celtics
> Year of first title: 1957
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1946
> Total championships: 17

One of the most successful franchises in sports history, the Boston Celtics have 17 NBA championships. The team’s first title came in 1957, the first of 11 in 13 years.

Source: McGreevey Collection / Wikimedia Commons

Boston Red Sox (as the Boston Americans)
> Year of first title: 1903
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 9

Before changing their name to the Red Sox, the Boston Americans won the first officially recognized World Series in 1903, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three in a best of nine series.

Source: David Jones / Wikimedia Commons

Brooklyn Nets (as the New York Nets)
> Year of first title: 1974
> League: ABA
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 2

The Brooklyn Nets have not won a title since they joined the NBA. Their only banners come from their days in the competitor league the ABA, when Julius Erving led the team, then known as the New York Nets, to championships in 1974 and 1976.

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Source: Mikerussell / Wikimedia Commons

Buffalo Bills
> Year of first title: 1964
> League: AFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 2

Despite coming agonizingly close four times in the 1990s, the Buffalo Bills have never won a Super Bowl. But the team did win back-to-back AFL championships in 1964 and 1965.

Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

Calgary Flames
> Year of first title: 1989
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1972
> Total championships: 1

Hall of Famers Al MacInnis and Lanny McDonald led the 1989 Calgary Flames to the franchise’s first and only Stanley Cup.

Source: Grant Halverson / Getty Images

Carolina Hurricanes
> Year of first title: 2006
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1979
> Total championships: 1

Formerly known as the Hartford Whalers, the Carolina Hurricanes won their first and only Stanley Cup in 2006, following the lockout of the 2004-2005 season.

Source: The rakish fellow / Wikimedia Commons

Chicago Bears (as the Chicago Staleys)
> Year of first title: 1921
> League: APFA
> First year in franchise history: 1920
> Total championships: 9

One of the original NFL teams, the Chicago Bears, then known as the Staleys, actually won their first of nine titles before the NFL existed. The Staleys captured the American Professional Football Association title in 1921, the league’s second and final year before becoming the NFL.

Source: ekilby / Flickr

Chicago Blackhawks
> Year of first title: 1934
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1926
> Total championships: 6

The Chicago Blackhawks won their first title in 1934, then another in 1938. Chicago, despite being one of just six teams in the NHL, did not win another title until 1961. Blackhawks fans then had to wait 50 years for their fourth Stanley Cup.

Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

Chicago Bulls
> Year of first title: 1991
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1966
> Total championships: 6

The Chicago Bulls had little postseason success before Michael Jordan arrived. The team finally broke through and won their first title in 1991, their first of six championships in the 1990s.

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Source: dgaken / Flickr

Chicago Cubs
> Year of first title: 1907
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1876
> Total championships: 3

The Chicago Cubs, one of the oldest MLB teams, won back-to-back titles in 1907 and 1908. The Cubs famously floundered for over a century before winning their third World Series in 2016.

Source: kenlund / Flickr

Chicago White Sox
> Year of first title: 1906
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 3

The Chicago White Sox narrowly edged out their crosstown rivals, the Cubs, by a year, winning their first title in 1906.

Source: FPG / Getty Images

Cincinnati Reds
> Year of first title: 1919
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1882
> Total championships: 5

The Cincinnati Reds won their first title in 1919 after more than 30 years as a pro baseball organization. They had never made the postseason before.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cleveland Browns
> Year of first title: 1946
> League: AAFC
> First year in franchise history: 1946
> Total championships: 8

The Cleveland Browns started in the fledgling All-America Football Conference in 1946, a competitor to the NFL. They dominated the league, winning all four AAFC titles before it folded. The Browns proved they were for real after joining the NFL in 1950, winning the title in their first season in the league.

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Source: Bob Donnan / Pool / Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers
> Year of first title: 2016
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1970
> Total championships: 1

The famously heart-breaking and snakebitten Cleveland Cavaliers rewarded their fans’ patience in 2016. LeBron James returned home and helped the Cavs beat the heavily favored Golden State Warriors and brought the city Cleveland their first title in any sport over 50 years.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Cleveland Indians
> Year of first title: 1920
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 2

In their first 50 seasons, the Cleveland Indians made the postseason twice, in 1920 and 1948, winning the World Series both times. Since then, the team has lost in the World Series four times.

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche
> Year of first title: 1996
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1979
> Total championships: 2

The Colorado Avalanche brought home the Stanley Cup in 1996 — their first season after moving from Quebec. The team won again 2001.

Source: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys
> Year of first title: 1971
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 5

After forming in 1960, coach Tom Landry took the Dallas Cowboys from a hopeless expansion franchise to champions. The team won its first Super Bowl in 1971 after five straight playoff appearances the years before.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks
> Year of first title: 2011
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1980
> Total championships: 1

The Dallas Mavericks won their first and only title in 2011, the 11th consecutive season Dirk Nowitzki brought the franchise to the playoffs.

Source: Elsa / Getty Images

Dallas Stars
> Year of first title: 1999
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 1

A few years after leaving Minnesota for North Texas, Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars hoisted the lone Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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Source: Otto Greule Jr. / Allsport / Getty Images

Denver Broncos
> Year of first title: 1997
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 3

Before the Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl after the 1997 season, the team lost the big game four times.

Source: Courtesy of Goldin Auctions

Detroit Lions
> Year of first title: 1935
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1930
> Total championships: 4

The Detroit Lions won their first NFL championship in 1935, then took home three more titles in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the franchise has not come close to winning another title since.

Source: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Detroit Pistons
> Year of first title: 1989
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1948
> Total championships: 3

Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and the rest of the Bad Boys squad led the Detroit Pistons to their first of two straight NBA titles in 1989.

Source: Ken Lund / Wikimedia Commons

Detroit Red Wings
> Year of first title: 1936
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1926
> Total championships: 11

One of the Original Six teams, the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 1936, immediately followed with another in 1937. Altogether, Detroit has 11 Stanley Cups.

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Source: Library of Congress

Detroit Tigers
> Year of first title: 1935
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 4

It took the Detroit Tigers five tries to win their first World Series. The franchise lost the Fall Classic in 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1934 before winning it all in 1935.

Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers
> Year of first title: 1984
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1979
> Total championships: 5

It takes most teams longer than five seasons to win a title, but most teams don’t have Wayne Gretzky. The Great One guided the Oilers to their first of five titles in 1984.

Source: Bowman Gum / Wikimedia Commons

Golden State Warriors (as the Philadelphia Warriors)
> Year of first title: 1947
> League: BAA
> First year in franchise history: 1946
> Total championships: 6

The Warriors’ first title predates the NBA. The franchise, then in Philadelphia, won the first ever BAA (Basketball Association of America) title in 1947 before the league became the NBA in 1949.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Green Bay Packers
> Year of first title: 1929
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1921
> Total championships: 13

Since the beginning of the NFL no team has had more championships than the Green Bay Packers, with 13. The first title came in 1929 and was also the first of three consecutive titles Green Bay won.

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Houston Astros
> Year of first title: 2017
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1962
> Total championships: 1

The Houston Astros are one of the more recent teams to hang their first banner, taking home the 2017 World Series title.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

Houston Rockets
> Year of first title: 1994
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 2

Led by Hakeem Ojajuwon, the Houston Rockets won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.

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Source: Utah Daily Chronicle / Wikimedia Commons

Indiana Pacers
> Year of first title: 1970
> League: ABA
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 3

Though they have never won an NBA title, the Indiana Pacers were dominant when they were in the ABA in the 1970s. The Pacers were ABA champs in 1970, 1972, and 1973.

Source: Malcolm W. Emmons / Wikimedia Commons

Indianapolis Colts (as the Baltimore Colts)
> Year of first title: 1958
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1953
> Total championships: 4

Led by Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts won NFL championships in 1958 and 1959. The team has since won two more Super Bowls.

Source: Riddell / Amazon

Kansas City Chiefs (as the Dallas Texans)
> Year of first title: 1962
> League: AFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 2

The Dallas Texans only existed for three seasons, winning the AFL championship in 1962 before becoming the Kansas City Chiefs the following season.

Source: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

Kansas City Royals
> Year of first title: 1985
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1969
> Total championships: 2

The Kansas City Royals have hung two championship banners — the first won by the George Brett-led 1985 team, and the second 30 years later in 2015.

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Source: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Los Angeles Angels (as the Anaheim Angels)
> Year of first title: 2002
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1961
> Total championships: 1

After making the postseason just three times in their first 40 seasons, the Angels franchise broke through for their lone World Series in 2002.

Source: Dinobaby / Amazon

Los Angeles Chargers (as the San Diego Chargers)
> Year of first title: 1963
> League: AFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 1

The LA Chargers were the class of the AFL, making the title game five times in six years, winning once. The NFL has been a different story. The Chargers’ only Super Bowl appearance ended in a 49-26 drubbing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles Dodgers (as the Brooklyn Dodgers)
> Year of first title: 1955
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1884
> Total championships: 6

Shortly before leaving for Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Dodgers won their first World Series after seven prior losses in the modern era.

Source: estebanandjulie / Flickr

Los Angeles Kings
> Year of first title: 2012
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 2

It took the Los Angeles Kings 45 years to win their first Stanley Cup, which came in 2012. The team earned its second title just two seasons later in 2014.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles Lakers (as the Minneapolis Lakers)
> Year of first title: 1949
> League: BAA
> First year in franchise history: 1948
> Total championships: 16

The Lakers franchise, still in Minneapolis, won the final BAA championship in 1949 and then the first ever NBA championship the next season in 1950. Those happened to be the first two seasons in Lakers history. The franchise now has 16 championships.

Source: Associated Students of UCLA / Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles Rams (as the Cleveland Rams)
> Year of first title: 1945
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1937
> Total championships: 3

The Rams franchise won the 1945 NFL title in its final season in Cleveland before moving to Los Angeles, then to St. Louis, then back to LA.

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Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Miami Dolphins
> Year of first title: 1972
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1966
> Total championships: 2

The Miami Dolphins won their first Super Bowl in impressive fashion, posting a perfect 14-0 regular season. Head coach Don Shula led the Dolphins to a title the next season as well.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Miami Heat
> Year of first title: 2006
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1988
> Total championships: 3

Shaquille O’Neal teamed up with Dwyane Wade to bring Miami its first ever NBA title in 2006.

Source: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Miami Marlins (as the Florida Marlins)
> Year of first title: 1997
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1993
> Total championships: 2

The Miami Marlins have never won their division. Still, the team has made the playoffs twice as a wild card and won the World Series both times, in 1997 and 2003.

Source: National Basketball Association / Wikimedia Commons

Milwaukee Bucks
> Year of first title: 1971
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1968
> Total championships: 1

The lone title in Milwaukee Bucks’ history came in the franchise’s third season, largely thanks to the top overall pick from the season before, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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Source: Washington Nationals baseball club / Library of Congress

Minnesota Twins (as the Washington Senators)
> Year of first title: 1924
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 3

Before moving to Minnesota in 1960, the Washington Senators franchise had just one title in 60 years, in 1924. Since moving, the Twins won it all in 1987 and 1991.

Source: Library and Archives Canada / Wikimedia Commons

Montreal Canadiens
> Year of first title: 1919
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1917
> Total championships: 25

As an Original Six team, the Montreal Canadiens have more titles than any other pro hockey team in North America by far, with 25. The first came in 1919.

Source: Andy Lyons / Getty Images

New England Patriots
> Year of first title: 2001
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 6

For most of the team’s history, the New England Patriots struggled. Since Tom Brady took over at QB, and with the coaching of Bill Belichick, the team has won a record six Super Bowls, the first coming after the 2001 season.

Source: Glenn Cratty / Getty Images

New Jersey Devils
> Year of first title: 1995
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1974
> Total championships: 3

The glory days of the New Jersey Devils stretched from the mid 1990s until the mid 2000s. The team, paced by the steady goalkeeping of Martin Brodeur, won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003.

Source: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

New Orleans Saints
> Year of first title: 2009
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 1

For much of their history, the New Orleans Saints were known as the “Aints” because of their woeful performance. The tandem of coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees turned around their fortunes, and the team won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season.

Source: pd-user / Wikimedia Commons

New York Giants
> Year of first title: 1927
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1925
> Total championships: 8

The New York Giants first conquered the NFL in 1927. That was the first championship won by an NFL team that has never moved or changed its name.

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Source: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

New York Islanders
> Year of first title: 1980
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1972
> Total championships: 4

The New York Islanders’ 1980 Stanley Cup was the first of the team’s astonishing four straight titles under coach Al Arbour.

Source: New York Jets / Wikimedia Commons

New York Jets
> Year of first title: 1968
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 1

The lone title in New York Jets history came on the heels of a bold guarantee from QB Joe Namath that his team would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. It was the first time an AFL team won the Super Bowl.

Source: New York Knicks / Wikimedia Commons

New York Knicks
> Year of first title: 1970
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1946
> Total championships: 2

Walt Frazier led the Knicks teams of the early 1970s to glory, winning NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images

New York Mets
> Year of first title: 1969
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1962
> Total championships: 2

Filling the void left by the departed Dodgers and Giants, the New York Mets won a title in just their eighth season in existence in 1969.

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Source: Jmj713 / Wikimedia Commons

New York Rangers
> Year of first title: 1928
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1926
> Total championships: 4

The New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 1928 — the first team outside of Canada to win the NHL title.

Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

New York Yankees
> Year of first title: 1923
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1903
> Total championships: 27

No team in the big four sports leagues can stack up with the New York Yankees and their 27 championships. Surprisingly, the Yankees were around 20 years before winning their first title in 1923.

Source: The Sporting News Collection / Wikimedia Commons

Oakland Athletics (as the Philadelphia Athletics)
> Year of first title: 1910
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1901
> Total championships: 9

The Philadelphia Athletics were terrific in the 1910s, winning the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913. The team would win two more titles in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City and playing there from 1955 to 1967. In Oakland, the A’s have won four more titles.

Source: Miami Dolphins / Wikimedia Commons

Oakland Raiders
> Year of first title: 1976
> League: AFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 3

Although the Oakland Raiders were champions of the AFL in 1967, they lost Super Bowl II, so this isn’t considered the year of their first title. The Raiders finally won their first Super Bowl after the 1976 season.

Source: Seattle Municipal Archives / Flickr

Oklahoma City Thunder (as the Seattle SuperSonics)
> Year of first title: 1979
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 1

Before moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder franchise played in Seattle as the SuperSonics for more than 40 years, winning the 1979 NBA title.

Source: Courtesy of the Syracuse Nationals

Philadelphia 76ers (as the Syracuse Nationals)
> Year of first title: 1955
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1949
> Total championships: 3

The Philadelphia 76ers were once the Syracuse Nationals, a team that made the playoffs in each of the 14 seasons it existed, including 1955, when the team won its first title.

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Source: Bowman Gum / Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia Eagles
> Year of first title: 1948
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1933
> Total championships: 4

The Philadelphia Eagles began their playoff history with three straight championship game appearances. The team lost the 1947 NFL title game but won it all in 1948 and 1949.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia Flyers
> Year of first title: 1974
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 2

The back-to-back titles Philadelphia won in 1974 and 1975 remain the only Stanley Cups in Flyers history.

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Allsport / Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies
> Year of first title: 1980
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1883
> Total championships: 2

Formed in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers, the Philadelphia Phillies franchise took nearly a century to win their first title, which came in 1980.

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

Pittsburgh Penguins
> Year of first title: 1991
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 5

Pittsburgh Penguins fans have been lucky enough to watch two different once-in-a-generation superstars on their team — Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. Lemieux captained the Penguins to their first two titles in 1991 and 1992, while Crosby led the way for the next three in 2009, 2016, and 2017.

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Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

Pittsburgh Pirates
> Year of first title: 1909
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1882
> Total championships: 5

A team older than the World Series itself, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1909 World Series, the first of five titles in team history.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers
> Year of first title: 1974
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1933
> Total championships: 6

For roughly the first half of their existence, the Pittsburgh Steelers were lousy, making just one playoff appearance from 1933 to 1971. But head coach Chuck Noll helped install a winning culture and guided the team to four Super Bowls in the 1970s, the first coming after the 1974 season.

Source: Sporting News / Wikimedia Commons

Portland Trail Blazers
> Year of first title: 1977
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1970
> Total championships: 1

A famously unlucky franchise, the Portland Trailblazers won their only title in 1977 in the team’s first ever playoff appearance.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sacramento Kings (as the Rochester Royals)
> Year of first title: 1951
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1948
> Total championships: 1

After four moves and a change of nickname, today’s Sacramento Kings bear little resemblance to the Rochester Royals of the 1940s and 1950s. The Royals won the 1951 NBA title in just the third season in franchise history.

Source: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs
> Year of first title: 1999
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 5

Certain coaches can completely alter the course of an entire franchise. Gregg Popovich is one such coach. He led the Spurs to all five of their titles and the team has never missed the playoffs when he had a full season in charge.

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers
> Year of first title: 1981
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1946
> Total championships: 5

The first Niners title, which came after the 1981 season, was the start of a dynasty. By the end of the 1994 season, the franchise had five Super Bowls.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

San Francisco Giants (as the New York Giants)
> Year of first title: 1905
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1883
> Total championships: 8

The Giants have technically a championship 10 times, but two of the titles, in 1888 and 1889, predate the modern era and were not considered for this list. The first modern World Series victory in Giants history came in 1905.

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks
> Year of first title: 2013
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1976
> Total championships: 1

It took the Seattle Seahawks more than three decades to win their first Super Bowl, but they finally accomplished the feat after the 2013 season.

Source: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

St. Louis Blues
> Year of first title: 2019
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1967
> Total championships: 1

In the St. Louis Blues’ first three seasons, the team made the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose each time. The team finally excised those 50-year old demons by winning the 2019 Stanley Cup behind rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

St. Louis Cardinals
> Year of first title: 1926
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1882
> Total championships: 11

The St. Louis Cardinals trail only the New York Yankees for most modern-era World Series titles, with 11. The Cardinals won their first title in 1926, beating the Yankees in seven games.

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Source: PETER MUHLY / Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> Year of first title: 2002
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1976
> Total championships: 1

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have just six playoff wins in franchise history — three of which came during their lone Super Bowl run following the 2002 season.

Source: Dave Sandford / Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning
> Year of first title: 2004
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1992
> Total championships: 1

In just the team’s third playoff appearance, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup over the Calgary Flames.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee Titans (as the Houston Oilers)
> Year of first title: 1960
> League: AFL
> First year in franchise history: 1960
> Total championships: 2

The Houston Oilers franchise got off to a great start, winning the first two AFL championships in its first two seasons, 1960 and 1961. But the team could not regain its winning ways in the NFL, later moving to Tennessee and becoming the Titans.

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

Toronto Blue Jays
> Year of first title: 1992
> League: MLB
> First year in franchise history: 1977
> Total championships: 2

In 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays made the World Series a true international event, when they became the first and only non-American team to win the title. They did it again the next year.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Toronto Maple Leafs (as the Toronto Arenas)
> Year of first title: 1918
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1917
> Total championships: 13

Toronto’s NHL franchise has won titles under three different names: first as the Arenas in the team’s first season of 1918, then the St. Patricks in 1922. Since changing its name to the Maple Leafs in 1926, the team won 11 Stanley Cups.

Source: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images

Toronto Raptors
> Year of first title: 2019
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1995
> Total championships: 1

The Toronto Raptors are the most recent team to win their first championship, downing the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

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Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images

Washington Capitals
> Year of first title: 2018
> League: NHL
> First year in franchise history: 1974
> Total championships: 1

After years and years of playoff disappointments, the 2018 Washington Capitals were able to beat their playoff rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and hoist the Stanley Cup.

Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

Washington Redskins
> Year of first title: 1937
> League: NFL
> First year in franchise history: 1932
> Total championships: 5

The Washington Redskins won their first title in 1937, the first season after the franchise left Boston.

Source: George Gojkovich / The Sporting News Archives / Wikimedia Commons

Washington Wizards (as the Washington Bullets)
> Year of first title: 1978
> League: NBA
> First year in franchise history: 1961
> Total championships: 1

The Washington Wizards have changed names and cities multiple times in their existence. During the only championship season the team had, 1978, they were known as the Washington Bullets.

Detailed findings & methodology:

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.

Some of these teams won in different leagues. Many franchises we know today started in competitor leagues like the WHA, ABA, or AFL. We considered titles won in those leagues as championships, and they counted toward the year of first title. Some teams, like the Los Angeles Chargers and Indiana Pacers, have only won titles in those competitor league, but not since joining the NFL and NBA, respectively. These titles are considered these teams’ first. NFL and AFL titles were only counted as championship if they took place before the Super Bowl era.

Some teams, like the Ottawa Senators or Winnipeg Jets, took their names from long-defunct franchises of the same name. Since the franchises are completely different and distinct from their predecessors, the championships won by those earlier teams were not considered. The one exception is the Cleveland Browns, which restarted after owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore for the 1996 season. Though the team disappeared for a few seasons, it came back and claimed the history and championships won by Browns teams in the past.

Though the Major Leagues have been around since 1876, the 1903 World Series is generally recognized as the first sanctioned championship event between two different leagues. Teams from different leagues played each other in a series called the “World Series” before that, but those games are considered exhibitions.

For much of the Super Bowl era, the big game has been played in a different year than the regular season preceding it. For instance, the Baltimore Ravens won their first Super Bowl on January 28, 2001, but that championship team is known as the 2000 Ravens, as that was the year in which almost all of the season took place.

Few fan bases have been as tortured as those in Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota overall. The Minnesota Twins do have three World Series titles — two if you only count the titles won while the franchise was located in the Twin Cities — but their other teams have not had such luck. The NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves have only made it out of the first round of the playoffs once. The Minnesota North Stars were showing promise in the 1990s, but the team relocated to Dallas and won a Stanley Cup just a few years later. The replacement team, the Minnesota Wild, has yet to make it to the Finals. The most tragic of all may be the Minnesota Vikings, a franchise that has gone 0-4 in the Super Bowl. The team did win the NFL title in 1969, but that was during the Super Bowl era, and Minnesota lost the big game to the Kansas City Chiefs, so that cannot be considered a true championship.

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