Infobox sports league
current_season = 2008 American League Championship Series
pixels = 150px
founded = 1901
teams = 14
Boston Red Sox
country = CAN
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up
Major League Baseballin the United Statesand Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, that eventually aspired to major league status. The league is often called the Junior Circuit because it was elevated to Major League status in 1901, 25 years after the formation of the National League(the "Senior Circuit"). The American League champion plays in the World Seriesagainst the National League champion after the end of every season. Through the 2007 season, American League teams have won 61 of the 103 World Series played since 1903, with 26 of those coming from the New York Yankeesalone. The Boston Red Sox, are the defending American League champions, winning the AL Pennant in 2007 before going on to sweep the Colorado Rockiesin the 2007 World Series.
Early league history
With the disappearance of the American Association after the 1891 baseball season, the
National Leagueexpanded to become a twelve-team league. The National League remained the sole monopoly of major professional baseball for the remainder of the century. In 1894, Bancroft "Ban" Johnson became the president of the minor Western League. In 1896, he formulated the plan that would eventually see the Western League become the American League. Throughout the latter half of the 1890s, the National League considered contracting from twelve teams to eight. Johnson was determined that if this should happen, then he would be set to place new teams into the abandoned cities and thus take on the established league.
In 1900 the NL finally went through with its planned contraction, eliminating its teams in Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville, and
Washington, D.C.. Johnson thus felt the time was right to take on the established league.
The Western League renamed itself the American League on
October 11, 1899, and placed teams in Cleveland and Chicago. This was done with the approval of the National League, which did not recognize the threat such a move would pose.
Despite these moves, the American League remained a minor league during the 1900 season. The league did not renew its National Agreement membership when it expired in October 1900, and on
January 28, 1901, officially declared itself a major league. It placed new teams in Baltimore and Boston. The manager and several players from the Kansas City team were transferred to Washington.
The National League early on attempted to destroy the upstart league, even sabotaging the Baltimore franchise in 1902 after then manager John McGraw jumped the team and signed with the NL's New York Giants, bringing several of his star players with him. Despite this setback, the AL managed to survive the season intact and the NL sued for peace in 1903. After relocating the Baltimore franchise to New York for 1903, the two leagues settled into fifty years of peace and prosperity, with each league holding steady at eight teams.
The advent of television and other economic forces broke the half-century "status quo" in the 1950s, as some teams from both leagues began to transfer to other cities, and also led to the first major league expansion since the short-lived
Federal Leagueexperiment of 1914-1915.
In 1961, the league expanded to ten teams, adding a franchise in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, the latter replacing the departing Washington Senators franchise that had relocated to Minneapolis to become the
In 1969 the league expanded again, adding the
Kansas City Royalsand the Seattle Pilots, the former replacing the departed Athletics franchise in Kansas City. The Pilots only managed to survive one season before transferring to Milwaukee (just four days before the 1970 season started) where they became known as the Milwaukee Brewers. Also in 1969, the league, along with the National League, reorganized into two divisions of six teams (East and West, falling more along geographical lines than the NL's own realignment that year) and added a League Championship Series to determine the league participant in the World Series.
In 1973, the American League adopted the
designated hitterrule, whereby a team may designate a tenth player to bat in place of the pitcher. This rule change parted ways with the National League, which continued to require pitchers to bat for themselves, and led to special rules governing its use during interleague play such as the World Series.
In 1977, the league expanded to fourteen teams, when the
Seattle Marinersand Toronto Blue Jayswere enfranchised. The Toronto franchise was the AL's attempt to compete with the National League's Montreal Exposwhile the Mariners were added in an attempt to settle a pending $90 million lawsuit against the league by the city of Seattle over the quick departure of the Pilots in 1970.
In 1994, the league, along with the National League, reorganized into three divisions (East, Central and West) and added a second round to the playoffs in the form of the League Divisional Series, with the best second-place team advancing to the playoffs as a wild card team, in addition to the three divisional champions. Originally, the
Milwaukee Brewerswere in the Central division, but they left to join the National Leaguein 1998, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays joined the Eastern division, which kept the league's membership at 14 teams.
For the first 96 years, American League teams faced their National League opponents only in exhibition games or in the World Series. Beginning in 1997, interleague games have been played during the regular season and count in the standings. As part of the agreement instituting interleague play, the designated hitter is used only in games where the American League team is the home team.
Through the 2007 season, the Yankees have won the most American League pennants (39), followed by the Athletics (14), Red Sox (12), and Tigers (10). Likewise, the Yankees have also won the most World Series (26), with the Athletics second with nine, the Red Sox third with seven and the Tigers fourth with four.
Starting in 1901, the eight charter teams were the following:
Expansion, renaming, and relocation summary
*1902: Milwaukee Brewers move to St. Louis, renamed St. Louis Browns
*1902: Cleveland Blues renamed Cleveland Bronchos
*1903: Baltimore Orioles move to New York, renamed New York Highlanders
*1903: Chicago White Stockings officially renamed to
Chicago White Sox
*1903: Cleveland Bronchos renamed Cleveland Naps
*1905: Washington Senators renamed Washington Nationals; Senators name continued to be used by media
*1907: Boston Americans (informal nickname) formally renamed
Boston Red Sox
*1913: New York Highlanders nickname dropped in favor of already-established
New York Yankees
*1914: Cleveland Naps renamed
Cleveland Indiansat the end of the season
*1954: St. Louis Browns move to Baltimore, renamed
*1955: Philadelphia Athletics move to Kansas City
*1957: Washington Nationals/Senators formally renamed Washington Senators
*1961: Washington Senators move to Minneapolis, renamed
*1961: Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators enfranchised
*1965: Los Angeles Angels renamed California Angels in mid-season on September 2, 1965.
*1968: Kansas City Athletics move to Oakland
Kansas City Royalsand Seattle Pilots enfranchised
*1970: Seattle Pilots move to Milwaukee, renamed
*1972: Washington Senators move to Dallas-Fort Worth, renamed Texas Rangers
Oakland Athleticsofficially renamed Oakland A's
Seattle Marinersand Toronto Blue Jaysenfranchised
*1980: Oakland A's officially renamed
*1997: California Angels renamed Anaheim Angels
*1998: Tampa Bay Devil Rays representing Tampa-St. Petersburg enfranchised
Milwaukee Brewerstransfer from the American League to the National League
*2005: Anaheim Angels renamed
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
*2008: Tampa Bay Devil Rays renamed
Tampa Bay Rays
American League East
Baltimore Oriolesenfranchised 1894 as the Milwaukee Brewers, moved to St. Louis (1902) and to Baltimore (1954)
Boston Red Soxenfranchised 1901*
New York Yankeesenfranchised 1901* as the Baltimore Orioles, moved to New York (1903)
Tampa Bay Raysenfranchised 1998 as the Devil Rays (team name changed 2008)
Toronto Blue Jaysenfranchised 1977
American League Central
Chicago White Soxenfranchised 1894 as the Sioux City Cornhuskers, moved to St. Paul (1895) and to Chicago (1900)
Cleveland Indiansenfranchised 1894 as the Grand Rapids Rustlers, moved to Cleveland (1900)
Detroit Tigersenfranchised 1894
Kansas City Royalsenfranchised 1969
Minnesota Twinsenfranchised 1901* as the Washington Senators, moved to Minneapolis (1961)
American League West
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheimenfranchised 1961 as the Los Angeles Angels, moved within the Los Angeles area to Anaheim (1966)
Oakland Athleticsenfranchised 1901* in Philadelphia, moved to Kansas City (1955) and to Oakland (1968)
Seattle Marinersenfranchised 1977
*Texas Rangers enfranchised 1961 as the Washington Senators, moved to Dallas-Fort Worth (1972)
(*)See commentary on Western League page. The Buffalo, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Minneapolis teams were replaced by teams in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington in 1901, but it is unclear and disputed as to which team went where. It is generally believed, however, that the Minneapolis Millers of 1900 became the Baltimore Orioles of 1901 (New York Yankees) and that the Kansas City Blues of 1900 became the Washington Senators of 1901 (Minnesota Twins).Fact|date=May 2008
League presidents 1901–1999
* Bobby Brown 1984–1994
Several other sports have had leagues called "American League", usually with the sport name as a qualifier, such as the "
American Football League" (which eventually merged with the National Football League, adopting the latter's name for the combination). The American Hockey Leagueis the top minor league in North American professional ice hockey.
*"The National League Story", Lee Allen, Putnam, 1961.
*"The American League Story", Lee Allen, Putnam, 1962.
*"The Baseball Encyclopedia", published by MacMillan, 1968 and later.
American League pennant winners 1901-68
American League Championship Series(ALCS)
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