What even more people do not know is the fact that the Yankees franchise did not originally start out in New York when the American League was originated. The original American League in 1901 was consisted of teams in Washington, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee. The Milwaukee franchise was in fact, the Brewers and the Baltimore franchise was called the Orioles. Milwaukee moved to St Louis after the 1901 season to become the St Louis Browns and the Baltimore team became the New York Highlanders starting in 1903.
The story of the change of the American League to the way it would be until 1954 had a little to do with then manager of the Baltimore Orioles John McGraw. Though McGraw had a lot of success as a player with the Orioles of the National League, he had some doubts over this new Major League. Many had no idea whether this league would last or fold very soon. McGraw is known to have cast a little doubt over why there was no team in New York in this new league. The fact that the National League and American League existed as completely different entities allowed players and managers to jump to each league if they wished. McGraw was at the end of the road as a player but was enticed by Reds owner John Brush and Giants owner Andrew Freedman to take over the Giants franchise as a manager. Brush and Freedman were leading the crusade to defeat the American League which led to McGraw jumping the Baltimore franchise to join the NL's New York Giants. By that time, Brush had become owner of the Giants, leaving behind his interest in the Reds while Freedman rode off into the sunset.
The Orioles franchise was robbed of a lot of their better ballplayers. In addition to McGraw, Roger Breshnahan, Joe Kelly and Joe McGinnity all jumped to the National League leaving the Orioles with a big problem. AL President Ban Johnson took over the operation of the Baltimore franchise for the best interest of the American League. After the 1902 season, the Orioles were relocated to New York where they would become the Highlanders and eventually, the Yankees.
According to www.baseballreference.com, the transition of the Orioles to the Yankees (Highlanders) was not as clear as it may have seemed. For all these years, it has been documented that the Orioles relocated to New York for the 1903 season and therefore, are the same franchise as the one that has played in New York ever since. When we have considered the history of the New York Yankees, we have also been including the ten seasons they were known as the Highlanders and the two seasons they were known as the Orioles.
Because of a different picture that has been painted of the Orioles/ Highlanders transition, the Baltimore Orioles of 1901 and 1902 will now be separated from the history of the New York franchise. Not because of the fact that they played in a different city and state. But because research has shown that the Baltimore franchise had essentially dissolved. They never moved to New York. The Baltimore Orioles were contracted as an American League team and replaced by a team in New York. In fact, only 4 players played on both the 1902 Orioles and the 1903 Yankees- one as a starting player (2B Jimmy WIlliams). Because of this, the Orioles existed for two seasons with no existent history after that. In addition, there is no connection to the National League club which existed before it or the American League club that existed afterwards. And from now on, there will be no more connection between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees franchises. They can no go back to being division rivals in the American League East.