|No. of teams||25 (total)|
12 (at peak)
|Boston Reds (1)|
|Most titles||St. Louis Browns (4)|
The American Association (AA) was a professional baseball league that existed for 10 seasons from 1882 to 1891. Together with the National League (NL), founded in 1876, the AA participated in an early version of the World Series[a] seven times versus the champion of the NL in an interleague championship playoff tournament. At the end of its run, several AA franchises joined the NL. After 1891, the NL existed alone, with each season's champions being awarded the prized Temple Cup (1894-1897).
During its existence, the AA was often simply referred to as "the Association" in the media, in contrast to the NL, which was sometimes called "the League".
The American Association distinguished itself in several ways from what it considered to be the puritanical National League. The new league established teams in what the NL leaders pejoratively called "river cities", including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, with the inherent implication of lower morality or social standards in those cities. In contrast to the NL, the AA offered cheaper ticket prices, Sunday games and alcoholic beverages to its patrons.:p.55 As such, the American Association was the world's first professional sports league designed to out-compete another by better accommodating blue-collar tendencies and attitudes toward spectator sport.
On November 8, 1881, at the Gibson House in Cincinnati, it was decided that individual teams in the league-to-be would operate their own affairs and set their own admission prices, under an agreement called the "guarantee system". The NL at that time prohibited the sale of alcohol on its grounds, while the AA had no such restrictions, especially as several of its teams were backed by breweries and distilleries. The AA became known as "The Beer and Whiskey League", another pejorative term applied by NL owners, and which did not seem to bother the fans of the Association's clubs.
Beginning in 1884 and continuing through 1890, the champion of the AA met the champion of the NL in an early version of the World Series. These early Series were less organized than the modern version, with as few as three games played and as many as fifteen, and the contests of 1885 and 1890 ending in disputed ties. The NL won four of these Series, while the AA won only one, in 1886 when the St. Louis Browns (now Cardinals) defeated the Chicago White Stockings (now Cubs).
Over its lifetime, the AA was weakened by several factors. One was the tendency of some of its teams to jump to the NL. The consistently stronger NL was in better position to survive adverse conditions. Some owners of AA teams also owned a NL team.:p.58 The most significant blow to the AA was dealt by the Players' League, a third major league formed in 1890, which siphoned off talent and gate receipts. In a rare historical oddity, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) won the league's championship and represented the AA in the 1889 World Series, switched to the NL during the off-season, and then repeated the same feat.
No player who spent the majority of his career in the AA is in the baseball Hall of Fame. The living legacy of the old Association is the group of teams that came over to the National League to stay. The Pirates moved to the NL after the 1886 season, the Bridegrooms/Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds after the 1889 season, and the Browns/Cardinals after the American Association folded following the 1891 season. Following the reorganization and contraction of the NL from 12 teams down to 8 in 1900, half of the eight surviving teams were former members of the AA. Several of the AA's home-field venues survived into the 1960s: The ballpark used by the 1891 Washington club evolved into Griffith Stadium; the home of the St. Louis Browns, Sportsman's Park; and the city block occupied by the Reds, which evolved into Crosley Field. Crosley was the last physical remnant of the AA to go, other than the clubs themselves, when it was replaced by Riverfront Stadium in mid-1970.
During the AA's existence, several teams defected over to the NL, and at the AA's demise in 1891 four additional clubs joined the NL. Four former AA clubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates (defected to the NL in 1887), the Cincinnati Reds (defected to the NL in 1889), the Los Angeles Dodgers (defected in 1890) and the St. Louis Cardinals (joined the NL after the AA demise in 1891), have posted more than 10,000 lifetime major league victories.
|Franchise||Franchise name with all recorded nicknames|
|Years||Years that the franchise were active in the AA|
|Home-field||The home-field ballpark(s) in which the franchise played|
|Titles||How many league titles the franchise won in the AA|
|†||Franchise later joined the National League|
|§||Franchise transferred in from the Players' League|
|Baltimore Orioles†||1882–1891||Newington Park/Oriole Park I, II, III||0|||
|Cincinnati Red Stockings†||1882–1889||Bank Street Grounds/League Park I||1||This franchise currently exists as the Cincinnati Reds|||
|Louisville Colonels†||1882–1891||Eclipse Park I||1|||
|Philadelphia Athletics||1882–1890||Oakdale Park/Jefferson Street Grounds||1|||
|Pittsburgh Alleghenys/Pirates†||1882–1886||Exposition Park I, II/Recreation Park||0||This franchise currently exists as the Pittsburgh Pirates|||
|St. Louis Brown Stockings/Browns†||1882–1891||Sportsman's Park I||4||This franchise currently exists as the St. Louis Cardinals|||
|Columbus Buckeyes||1883–1884||Recreation Park I||0|||
|New York Metropolitans||1883–1887||Polo Grounds I/Metropolitan Park/St. George Cricket Grounds||1|||
|Brooklyn Atlantics/Grays/Bridegrooms†||1884–1889||Washington Park/Ridgewood Park II||1||This franchise currently exists as the Los Angeles Dodgers|||
|Indianapolis Hoosiers||1884||Seventh Street Park I/Bruce Grounds||0|||
|Richmond Virginia(n)s||1884||Allen Pasture||0|||
|Toledo Blue Stockings||1884||League Park||0|||
|Washington Nationals||1884||Athletic Park||0|||
|Cleveland Spiders†||1887–1889||Kennard Street Park||0|||
|Kansas City Cowboys||1888–1889||Association Park/Exposition Park||0|||
|Columbus Solons||1889–1891||Recreation Park II||0|||
|Brooklyn Gladiators||1890||Ridgewood Park II/Polo Grounds III||0|||
|Rochester Broncos/Hop Bitters||1890||Culver Field I/Polo Grounds III||0|||
|Syracuse Stars||1890||Star Park II||0|||
|Toledo Maumees||1890||Speranza Park||0|||
|Boston Reds§||1891||Congress Street Grounds||1||Transferred from the Players' League after 1890 season|||
|Cincinnati Kelly's Killers||1891||East End Park||0||Also referred to as the Reds and the Porkers|||
|Milwaukee Brewers||1891||Athletic Park||0|||
|Philadelphia Athletics§||1891||Forepaugh Park||0||Transferred from the Players' League after 1890 season|||
|Washington Senators†||1891||Boundary Field||0|||