And then there was one
DECEMBER 17, 1891
– The National League was left standing as the only major league on this date in 1891 when the American Association folded. The National League announced at its winter meetings that four AA teams,
the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Browns, Louisville Colonels and Washington Senators would be
absorbed by the NL making it a 12-team league. Several other American Association teams had been absorbed by the NL in previous years; the Pittsburgh Alleghenys (now the Pirates), Cleveland Spiders (defunct), Cincinnati Red Stockings (now the Reds) and Brooklyn Bridegrooms (now the Dodgers).
The American Association challenged the National League as a second major league from 1882 to 1891. The two leagues even had seven World Series during those years. Though the AA didn’t survive, the National League must have felt threatened, which is why it eventually absorbed several teams.
The National League’s monopoly of major league baseball didn’t last long. In 1900 it dropped the four American Association franchises it absorbed in 1891, paving the way for a new league to grab them and start the American League.
There was a minor league American Association that existed from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997.
Bill Grimes is a member of SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research)