Who would ever willingly inject themselves with the AIDS virus?
It’s hard to believe that baseball is old enough to have teams that never made it to 1900. Prior to 1900, baseball was unrecognizable when compared to today’s version. In these early, early days of the Pastime, some teams faded away, never to be seen again, and one returned over 50 years later…
1) The Baltimore Orioles – I know what you’re thinking – “Um, there are still Baltimore Orioles.” Well, the current incarnation of the Baltimore Birds is not the same franchise as the one that competed from 1882 to 1899. They were eliminated from the National League along with a few more teams after a fourth-place finish in 1899, despite winning the coveted Temple Cup championship twice, in 1896 and 1897. Their most iconic player, John McGraw, was also their manager back when that was a thing.
2) The Boston Reds – This amalgamation of two current teams lasted only two years before the twentieth century. They played in the Players League and American Association at the same time the Boston Red Stockings played in the opposing National League. Borrowing their name from the Red Stockings, The Boston Reds were absorbed by the more successful Boston team after the 1891 season.
3) The Cleveland Spiders – Perhaps the most storied pre-1900s team, the Cleveland Spiders went through the names Forest Citys and Blues before moving to the National League and adopting the name Spiders. Then, in 1891, they signed the legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, and began to compete with the heavy hitters in the league. They won the championship in 1895, but in 1899, their owners took over the St. Louis team, the Browns, and the Spiders were left twisting in the wind. Because of the 1899 debacle of ownership, The Spiders were forced to play 85 of their last 93 games on the road, making their 101 road losses that year a record that will never be touched.
4) The Columbus Solons – The Solons existed from 1889 to 1891 and made nary a mark on the game due to their mediocrity. They were never bad enough or good enough to be memorable, finishing their run in the majors with a 200-209 record. This made them an easy scratch from the league when it came time to reorganize in 1891.
5) The Kansas City Cowboys – One of the earliest professional baseball organizations, the Cowboys were the final version of a team that had gone through the Union Association and the National League before settling in the American Association. They went 43-89 in their debut season and never really competed for a title in their run though 1889. The Cowboys had only one Hall of Fame player, “Slidin” Bily Hamilton, the team’s right fielder.
6) The Louisville Colonels – It makes sense that a team would exist in Louisville, home of the slugger bat, but since the Colonels left in 1891, they haven’t had another pro team. They began as the Louisville Eclipse before switching to the Colonels in 1895. They played in the National League all the way to the 1899 season. In 1889, the Colonels/Eclipse had two pitchers throw no-hitters within nine days of each other: Tony Mullane and rookie pitcher Deacon Phillippe.