Why Does Chicago Have Two Baseball Teams?

Michael Claunch

Chicago is America’s second city after New York City and is home to around 2.7 million people. It is a city full of culture, history, and, most importantly, sports. Two of the world’s most famous baseball teams call the Windy City home.

The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox have played in the city for over 100 years apiece. In the case of the Cubs, the baseball club has been in existence for nearly 150 years, predating the formation of MLB.

Although the Cubs and White Sox are two of MLB’s long-standing teams, fans may ask themselves: why does Chicago have two baseball teams?

A tale of two baseball clubs

The reasons as to why does Chicago have two baseball teams are rather simple. For one, Chicago is a major American city, and just like a century ago, it is a destination for people both established and newly arrived in the United States.

Its location, at the time the Cubs and White Sox were conceived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, both as the Chicago White Stockings, was on the edge of where most Americans lived. It seems difficult to believe today, but much of America stopped at the Mississippi River. While there were plenty of minor leagues and amateur leagues west of the Mississippi, it wouldn’t be until later that the region would explode with “real” professional sports teams.

Yet, Chicago’s size and the city’s location was just one reason for two baseball teams to crop up. In February 1876, the National League was founded with the Chicago White Stockings as one of the eight charter franchises. Looking back at the names of those original baseball teams, it is easy to see a league short on nicknames like is seen today. In fact, the names were very much nicknames earned from fans and journalists, similar to how soccer teams in Europe got their names.

In January 1901, the American League was formed. Known as the “Junior Circuit” since it formed 25 years after the National League, the American League’s formation led directly to the creation of the modern-day Chicago White Sox.

The competition between the two leagues helped lead to the creation of a second baseball team in Chicago. The two leagues battled in many of the same cities for fans and, over time, settled on sharing their cities.

Chicago MLB Teams

The Chicago MLB teams are the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, but they didn’t always start out with those monikers. The Cubs weren’t always the Cubs, and the White Sox were a different color at one time.

Chicago Cubs

Chicago cubs
“Chicago baseball cubs Wrigley” by doughaslam is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

In 1876, the first of the Chicago baseball teams was formed as the franchise began to play with the formation of the National League. The Chicago Cubs franchise is remarkably the only MLB team to continuously play in the same American city throughout its existence. This is an incredible feat in America’s sports landscape that is happy to relocate if profits are down.

In the beginning, the National League club was known as the White Stockings. This led to some confusion due to the team later changing its name, and that moniker being picked up by the American League club that formed in 1900.

During the 1880s, due to the Chicago baseball team not having an official nickname, the sports press in the city renamed them the Chicago Colts. This name stuck for the most part, with some calling them Anson’s Colts after captain and star player Adrian Anson.

In 1902, the nickname “Cubs” began to be used, and four years later, everyone was calling it the Chicago Cubs. By 1908, the cub in the C logo appeared on player uniforms.

Chicago White Sox

Chicago White Sox
“Final Score: Cleveland Indians 19, Chicago White Sox 10, U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park), Chicago, Illinois” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

With the original Chicago MLB team dropping the White Stockings moniker, the newly formed American League team in the Windy City adopted it. This Chicago White Stockings team was a charter member of the American League in 1901.

Originally, the baseball club was a minor league side playing in the Western League as the Sioux City Cornhuskers. Owner Charles Comiskey moved the club to his hometown neighborhood of Amour Square in Chicago and transformed the team’s name into the White Stockings in 1900.

In 1904, the White Stockings changed their names to the White Sox. It is often wrongly believed that the White Sox were officially known as the Black Sox at one time. This is not true, however. The Black Sox name may stem from two different reasons.

It is believed that after the 1919 Scandal in which a number of White Sox players threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, the team was called the Black Sox due to the underworld nature of the event.

The other reason for the Black Sox name comes from owner Comiskey not paying to clean the team’s uniforms. Instead, he forced the players to pay for laundering the uniforms, which they refused to do. The uniforms subsequently got dirtier with every game until Comiskey had the uniforms cleaned and took the fee for washing out of each player’s salary.

Chicago Baseball Teams: World Series Wins

The Chicago MLB teams have seen plenty of feast and famine over the years. The Cubs and White Sox have won an identical number of World Series titles: three.

The Cubs won the World Series in 1907, 1908, and 2016. For decades, the Cubs winning the World Series was a source of ridicule. For the White Sox, they won the World Series in 1906, 1917, and 2005. While it was nearly as long a wait for the White Sox to win the World Series, the Southsiders didn’t have the same constant mockery.

Meanwhile, the White Sox have appeared in six World Series, with the most recent being in 2005. The Cubs have made 17 World Series appearances, but 16 of those were before 1945.

Conclusion

So, why does Chicago have two baseball teams? The simple answer is that Chicago is a major American city, and like New York City, it has the population to accommodate two baseball clubs. The creation of the American League is another reason for two Chicago baseball teams as the competing leagues battled for supremacy.

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