The Smallest of the Big and the Biggest of the Small

Baseball is played in almost any nook and cranny of America, as well as in many parts of the world. Most of the focus is on Major League Baseball. Big cities, big stadiums and teams with long histories. What are the smallest of the big league cities, however? What then, are the biggest cities without a Major League Baseball team?

Here in part one of our two-part series, we start with a look at the smallest metropolitan areas with an MLB team.

That list is topped by Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The home of the Brewers has a long history in baseball and was a charter member of the American League in 1901. It had a minor league team from 1905 until 1952 when the NL’s Boston Braves moved to the city in 1953. After the Braves moved onto Atlanta in the mid-1960’s, Milwaukee was without an MLB team until 1970 when the Seattle Pilots moved and were renamed the Brewers.

Next, is the home of the Indians, Cleveland, Ohio. Although the Tribe experienced great success in the 1990’s and even in recent years, they haven’t won a World Series title since 1948. They lost to the Cubs, who previously hadn’t won a Series title since 1908, in a thrilling 7-game classic in 2016. They will host the 2019 All-Star game in 2019.

Third on the list is Kansas City, who plays at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals were part of Major League’s 1969 expansion. They have since been in four World Series. “The “K” is one of the oldest stadiums in Major League Baseball but its classic design has held up well.

The Cincinnati Reds play in the league’s fourth smallest market. They were charter members of the American Association in 1882 and became part of the National League in 1890. The team is perhaps best known for the “Big Red Machine” era, with players like Johnny Bench and Pete Rose.

Pittsburgh, PA is the fifth smallest market with an MLB team and home to the Pirates. The franchise became part of the NL in 1887. The team has featured such legends as Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente on its rosters and plays at PNC Park. Older fans will recall them playing at Three Rivers Stadium and even Forbes Field before that.

So, what about the large metros without MLB Baseball?

So we covered the five smallest cities with Major League Baseball teams. Here, below, we check into the larger metros without Major League Baseball. For comparison purposes, we looked at the largest TV markets without an MLB franchise. Here are the top five.

Fifth on the list is Indianapolis. The capital of Indiana may be home to the Colts and the Indy 500. They even have a Triple-A affiliate of the Pirate organization in the Indianapolis Indians. They do not, however, have an MLB franchise.

Charlotte, North Carolina is fourth on the list and is home to the Charlotte Knights, affiliated with the Chicago White Sox. The team has also been associated with the Indians and Marlins in its quarter-century of existence.

Portland, Oregon is the third largest TV market without Major League Baseball. In fact, the city doesn’t even have a Triple-A or Double-A franchise. It is, however, home to the Class A “Hops” who play in nearby Hillsboro.

Coming in second on our list is Sacramento, California. There’s obviously plenty of MLB baseball in California but not in the state’s capital.

The largest TV market without a Major League Baseball franchise is Orlando, Florida. With so many transplants in Florida from throughout the U.S., it may be hard to build a loyal fan base as both Tampa and Miami have discovered. The region is home to several Grapefruit League teams during Spring Training. Baseball fans here can get a fix in Tampa or take in a Tortugas game in Daytona Beach.

There hasn’t been any recent talk about expanding baseball, or of even moving franchises. Stadium and attendance issues, however, can always be a spark for change.

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