Professional Sports Timeline

Ok, this is a big one.

I’ve gone through the history books of the big 4 professional sports leagues in search of every team that’s ever played, every city and every franchise relocation, every name change and re-branding, and put it all in one giant chart. It’s a bit of a challenge to navigate, I admit, so take your time. I included a detailed legend at the top that I hope covers everything, but feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I’ll try to reply.

Team’s formation dates are a little tricky. For the purposes of being consistent, I only looked at the date when a team officially joined its respective major league, and not necessarily when the original team was created (except, of course, for teams that were formed as part of the major league itself). For example, many of the original baseball clubs that formed the National League in 1876 had their roots in semi-professional regional leagues that stretch back to the early 1870’s. However, tracking these would have been difficult, and differentiating between various level of pro leagues would have been almost impossible and likely a subjective exercise. So, in other words, I realize that some teams are in fact older than this suggests, but I had to limit this chart to only the timelines of the 4 major leagues. Most notably, this means that I included the AFL’s formation and all of its teams are recognized, while ABA teams are only recognized once they joined the NBA. This is because the AFL merged with the NFL and all of its teams were retroactively recognized by the NFL. When the ABA folded, only a few of its teams jumped over to the NBA.

Team colors are either logo or jersey colors, whichever is more prominent to the team’s identity (at least in my opinion). Note that colors going back to the 1930’s and prior are less reliable than more current years. For some team there is very little (if any) information about jersey or logo colors.

For the purposes of “Cities”, there is some gray area when it comes to the large metropolitan areas in the U.S.. I have tried to the best of my ability to use only Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the U.S. government. This means that “New York City” includes New York City, Newark, and East Rutherford, and that “San Francisco” includes San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. I believe that I have followed the generally accepted methodology here, but if any readers feel that their hometown as been unfairly included or excluded from a larger metro area I am all ears.

With regards to recognition of team relocation; Teams that came back to their original city are simply listed as active teams so as to not double count the number of teams per city (for example, the Oakland Raiders in the San Francisco summary are simply shown as active, not relocated and also active). However, teams that relocated and were replaced by another team with the same name are shown as two different teams (for example, the Winnipeg Jets which became the Phoenix Coyotes, and the new Winnipeg Jets, are shown as both a relocated team and an active team).

With all that out of the way, click the picture below for a full size version:
Timeline v2

A big thanks to these websites for providing most of the information I’ve used:

First Game Back After Road Trip

A hockey truism that I’ve heard a few times in the past is that the first home game after an extended road trip is a “trap” game, and that the longer a team is on the road the less focused they are when they finally return home. Supposedly, the players are so happy to be back home after a grueling trip that they don’t always show up for that first game back. I’ve never given much thought to this idea, but it always struck me as a bit odd.

The other night I was watching the Sportsnet pre-game show and Colby Armstrong made the peculiar statement that it was “scientifically proven” that the first game back after a road trip is a difficult one for teams to win. That kind of statement piqued my interest enough to actually grab some data and see if there’s any truth to this idea.

I looked at all NHL games played over the past 10 seasons.

The first thing to note is that home teams win 55.0% of the time. So, yes, home ice advantage is a real thing. However, it’s only the first home game back that I was interested in. Of the 11,790 games played in the past 10 seasons, only 5,423 were games where the home team was playing its first game back from the road. And how did they do? The home teams won 2,968 of those games, or a win percentage of 54.7%. A slight drop from 55%, sure, but not enough to be a “thing”.

In fact, when breaking it down by the length of the preceding road trip, I found even more interesting results that contradict the 2nd part of this truism: that longer trips mean even less success upon return home. Take a look at the chart below:

First Game Back

Surprisingly, teams back from 4, 5, and 7 game road trips perform better than average home success. In fact, with the exception of 6 game trips (which may simply be a sample size issue), 1 game trips seem to have the worst affect on the success of the following home game. This could possibly be attributed to quick turnaround and busy travel schedules.

Overall, there seems to be little support for this idea. Home games are home games, and with a large enough sample size there seems to be very little deviation from the standard 55% home win ratio.

And yes, there was one 14 game road trip… (Bonus points if you can figure out who and when).

Athlete Sizes – Update

There was lots of interest in my last post and I got some good feedback (thanks Reddit) about some additional details and clarifications I should include. People also really wanted to see stats for Soccer and Rugby as comparables. Here is an updated version which now includes:

  • Soccer, Rugby, and a few other sports
  • Much more distinction in Football and Baseball positions
  • Players’ average age – shown as the size of each circle, as well as written out (since circle sizes are difficult to compare)

Enjoy:Size Averages

Size Distributions