California is the most populous US state with more than 70 million citizens, and it has great weather too. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that a lot of professional sports teams call this state home, including as many as 5 in Major League Baseball. Some of the teams presently playing in California were originally based elsewhere, but moved west at some point and eventually turned into iconic MLB franchises in their new locations. California baseball teams have been quite successful over the past several decades, with several of them winning Championships.
This article will explain how West Coast became an important region for baseball and tell you everything you need to know about professional teams in California.
History of professional baseball in California
Table of Contents
During the earliest days of pro baseball, most franchises were located either on the East Coast or in the Midwest. No team from California was a founding team for either the National League or the American League, and expansion to this part of the country wasn’t on the MLB’s agenda for a long time. The only professional team based in the state during the first half of the 20th century were the Los Angeles Angels (separate from the modern team of the same name), which competed in the Pacific Coast League.
This situation changed suddenly in 1958 (the year that is considered the start of Major League Baseball in California), when two beloved franchises from New York decided to relocate to this previously untapped market. The Giants relocated to San Francisco, while Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Both of those teams will get their cross-town rivals over the next decade, with San Diego introducing its own expansion team as well during the 60s as well, bringing the number of CA MLB teams to 5.
What are the 5 MLB teams in California?
As was already mentioned, California is the US state with the largest number of MLB teams with five, two apiece located in the Bay Area and Los Angeles and one in San Diego. San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers & San Diego Padres are competing in the National League, while Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels are members of the American League. Each of those teams has its own history of success and lots of dedicated fans, so there isn’t a single team that could be singled out as California’s favorite representative.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers were known under several names since their foundation in the late 19th century, but they remained the pride of Brooklyn until their move to LA. The team has won 7 World Series titles, all but one during its tenure in Los Angeles, with the most recent championship coming in 2020. While the most famous Dodgers player – Jacky Robinson, played before the franchise became associated with California, LA fans has a chance to watch plenty of Hall of Famers on the field, including Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Mike Piazza, and Jim Thome
Los Angeles Angels
When they were added as an expansion franchise in 1961, the Angels were the first MLB team ever to originate in California. The team quickly moved from LA to nearby Anaheim in 1965, changing the name first to California Angels from 1965 to 1996, and then to Anaheim Angels from 1997 to 2004, when they reverted to their original name. Sadly, they have been one of the less successful California baseball teams, as they reached the World Series only once, winning it in 2002. Some of the most revered players to wear an Angels uniform were Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, and Vladimir Guerrero.
One of the founding franchises of the American League, the A’s had a lot of success during their early existence as they won the World Series five times between 1910 and 1930. The fortunes of the team changed in the following decades, and a move from Philadelphia to Kansas City followed in 1955. After finding a new home on the West Coast in 1968, the team quickly returned to glory with three straight championships from 1972 to 1974 and another in 1989. The list of all-time greats that played for Oakland includes Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Ricky Henderson.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have a long and illustrious history that started in New York in 1883. The team was originally known as Gothams but changed the name to the current version just three years later. It won the World Series five times before moving to San Francisco, then went more than 50 years in its new location before getting another trophy, losing all three World Series it appeared in between 1958 and 2010 when it finally won again. Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and Juan Marichal are some of the legendary players that spent most of their careers in San Francisco.
San Diego Padres
With the least national exposure among California baseball teams, the Padres are viewed as a small market team that at times struggled to stay relevant. From their foundation in 1969 to this day, they had a winning record in only 15 seasons and advanced to the World Series twice, only to lose in both 1984 and 1998. During this time, they had several Hall of Fame players on their roster, with Tony Gwyn, Trevor Hoffman, and Dave Winfield among its biggest stars. As of 2022, the Padres are the only professional team in any of the four major sports with a home in San Diego.
How successful are California baseball teams collectively?
When we look at how many baseball teams in California won the Championship, all but the Padres have done it at least once. The remaining teams combined to win the World Series 14 times since 1958, with the Dodgers collecting 6 trophies as a California team, followed by the A’s with 4, Giants with 3, and Angels with one. 14 wins in 64 years is certainly above the expected rate given the number of teams in the league. That’s why it’s fair to say that MLB teams from California have been pretty successful.