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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Today in Baseball History: The Seattle Pilots get their name

Professional football, long second or even third or fourth or fifth fiddle to baseball behind horse racing, boxing, and college football, had grown greatly popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. The 1958 NFL championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts — which ended in sudden death overtime and was subsequently dubbed The Greatest Game Ever Played — was seen as the moment when pro football took its place as the top dog in American sports. As the 1960s dawned, football was ascendent and baseball was in the process of falling off its perch as “The National Pastime.”

It would, in fact, fall off that perch and has basically remained off that perch, subordinate to the NFL in the national consciousness, in all but name for many decades. But as the 1960s dawned the Lords of Baseball tried to counteract the game’s slide in popularity and prominence by doing what it probably should’ve done years and years before: it began to expand.

In 1960, the American League voted to expand from eight to 10 teams, adding added a new franchise, the Angels, in Los Angeles. The league also awarded a franchise to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith received approval to move the Senators there instead, where they became thew Twins, with the new expansion slot to Washington going to the new Senators, who would eventually become the Texas Rangers in the early 1970s.

Unlike today, the AL and NL were still run as basically separate and often competing entities in the 1960s, so the NL did not immediately match the AL’s expansion. The twin pressures of AL expansion, along with that threat from a potential upstart in the Continental Baseball League that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, changed the Senior Circuit’s mind the following year and it added two new expansion clubs of its own for the 1962 season: the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s, who would eventually become the Astros.

The story of the rise and quick fall of a Major League franchise- and one that has been rather consequential in various regards.

 

QLE Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:49 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: expansion, history, pilots, seattle

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   1. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:45 PM (#5935698)
I was 11 years old during the Pilots' short existence, and they were the first major league team I ever followed. I attended four Pilots' games at Sicks' Stadium, of which they won three, two on bottom of the ninth walk-offs. I'd been interested in baseball before that, played Little League and casually followed the PCL Seattle Angels, but following the Pilots day by day was what solidified that interest into a passion. I was heartbroken when they left, but they left behind a love for the game that's never rescinded.

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