Friday marks the 70th anniversary of an event hard to fathom in the 21st century, when franchise values soar in multiple professional sporting leagues.
On April 10, 1945, the Brooklyn Tigers and Boston Yanks merged operations, with Brooklyn’s last NFL entrant disappearing out of the standings and into the archives. (A hat tip to onthisday.com for pointing this out.)
The Brooklyn Tigers, who began play in 1930, were previously the Dodgers, and they played at Ebbets Field. The franchise didn’t have a great deal of success, posting four winning seasons in 15 years.
The Boston Yanks, meanwhile, were founded in 1944, going 2-8 in their first season. The 1944 Brooklyn Tigers were even worse, posting an 0-10 mark.
The merged Boston-Brooklyn club was referred to as the Yanks, playing most home games in Boston and posting a 3-6-1 mark in 1945.
If that doesn’t seem quirky enough, let’s trace what happened next, per the NFL’s Record and Fact Book:
— Late in 1945, the Brooklyn half of the combined Yanks franchise left the NFL, joining the All-America Football Conference. The old Boston-Brooklyn franchise then the Boston Yanks for three seasons (1946-1948).
— In 1949, the franchise moved to New York and became the Bulldogs. The team played at the Polo Grounds along with the New York Giants.
— In 1950, the Bulldogs, still in New York, changed their name back to the Yanks.
— In 1952, the NFL purchased the Yanks from owner Ted Collins. The franchise then moved to Dallas for the upcoming season, and the club was dubbed the Texans. It was a disaster. The team struggled, losing 11 of 12 games. By season’s end, the league was running the team and had moved the headquarters to Hershey, Pennsylvania. In the end, the Texans folded operations.
However, the story doesn’t end here. In 1953, the Texans’ assets were sold to the expansion Baltimore franchise, which carries on business today as the Indianapolis Colts.
We can’t say we knew that before Friday afternoon, but the offseason sometimes allows for the deep dive into football history. And this was an especially interesting one.