Seventy years ago Friday, two NFL teams merged

AP

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.

36 responses to “Seventy years ago Friday, two NFL teams merged

  1. So, what you’re telling me about Yanks and Bulldogs and Yank Bulldogs and Bulldog Yanks and Boston and Brooklyn and team mergers and separations is that this was approximately when Philly won its last championship? Big LOLZ!

  2. One of the reasons I became a Colts fan: some of the most interesting history in the league is attached to the franchise.

  3. grandpoopah says:

    “Interesting history, but you yada yada yada’ right over the 1984 fireworks.”

    **

    You don’t consider that interesting history?

  4. cajunaise, I consider the 1984 move to be very interesting history and it would have fit right in with the earlier craziness documented in the article. I’m just saying I think 1984 deserves a bullet point of its own in the article.

  5. There’s so many interesting stories from the past. The Eagles and Steelers once merged to become “the Steagles”. The current Bengals were formed in 1968, but they were names after the Cincinnati Bengals that existed from 1937-41.

    A story on the “who-dey” vs “who-dat” chants would be interesting. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find that it originated with Bengals fans, but Saints fans will claim it started in NO or at LSU games.

    Btw…I thought the Dallas Texans went on to become the KC Chiefs?

  6. In Teddy We Trust says:
    The Packers won half of their championships decades before any of this happened.

    ——————————

    …and the Minnesota Vikings can only dream of a day when they can talk about “half of their championships”.

  7. Really interesting story. Thanks for the post.
    ———————————
    As for the post above about the Dallas Texans becoming the KC Chiefs…there were two versions of the Dallas Texans. You just read about the first version that became the Baltimore Colts. It was the second version that wound up in KC.

  8. Grab a copy of the big official NFL media guide. It has a chronological order of everything that has happened in the league since day one. Franchise movement, rule changes, ownership and virtually all minutiae. It makes up the final portion of the book. It’s well worth the read. Not to mention all of the other things you can use. Such as rules, scores, draft history and more.

  9. Here a tidbit
    The two Baltimore teams, Ravens and Orioles both were transplanted and their original names prior to moving were the Browns

    St. Louis Browns
    Cleveland Browns

  10. That’s very interesting history. now let’s see if PFT can do a history on how Washington got the name of Redskins and how it is not racist. How you doubt it will happen but would like to see it.

  11. “mikebrownistheworstownerinprosports says:
    Apr 10, 2015 6:34 PM

    There’s so many interesting stories from the past. The Eagles and Steelers once merged to become “the Steagles”. The current Bengals were formed in 1968, but they were names after the Cincinnati Bengals that existed from 1937-41.

    A story on the “who-dey” vs “who-dat” chants would be interesting. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find that it originated with Bengals fans, but Saints fans will claim it started in NO or at LSU games.

    Btw…I thought the Dallas Texans went on to become the KC Chiefs?”

    This was the Dallas Texans of the NFL(National Football League) not AFL(American Football League). *facepalm*

  12. Carl Rosenbloom was the principal owner of those expansion Baltimore Colts. After 19 seasons as the owner of the Baltimore Colts, Rosenbloom during the 1972 off-season completed a historic tax-free swapping of teams with new Los Angeles Rams owner Robert Irsay. Fast forward 7 years later, and while swimming at Golden Beach, Florida, Rosenbloom drowned on April 2, 1979. He was 72 years old. After Rosenbloom’s death, his second wife, Georgia Frontiere, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, inherited a 70% ownership stake in the Los Angeles Rams. Rosenbloom’s five children inherited the other 30%. 15 years later Georgia Frontiere attempted to relocate the Rams to Baltimore, Maryland, but that deal was eventually stopped. Mrs. Frontiere then sought to re-locate the team to the city of her birth, St. Louis, in which she succeeded doing in 1995. Following the 2007 season, Georgia Frontiere died January 18, 2008 after a 28-year ownership. On August 25, 2010, NFL owners unanimously approved Stan Kroenke as the new owner of the Rams franchise. Now Stan is trying to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, where they were when Rosenbloom swapped with Irsay. Perhaps Irsay an swap with Kroenke, then Stan can bring the Colts back to Baltimore, and the Ravens can move to St Louis. This rabbit hole is getting deep!

  13. In the end, the Brooklyn Tigers end up in Los Angeles, just like the Brooklyn Dodgers. Whoo-ah!

  14. Long time Baltimore fan here. We’ve glossed over Indianapolis taking our Colts, and the NFL not even giving us an expansion franchise 20 years or so later. We had to steal a team from Cleveland to get pro football back in Baltimore. So glad it happened. Look at us now, 2 Super Bowls since 1996, always in the playoffs. The league decided Jacksonville and Carolina were a better location for a new team, instead of righting a wrong that was done. Suck it: Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Charlotte. Sorry about that Cleveland!

  15. mackcarrington – thanks for catching that…I knew it was Carroll too, yet I typed Carl. Strange. Anyways another interesting bit of information…In 1926 Carroll Rosenbloom played halfback at the University of Pennsylvania. His backfield coach was Bert Bell, who later served as commissioner of the NFL from 1946 to 1959. Bell is the one who coined the phrase, “On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.” Before becoming commissioner, Bell was a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and sold his ownership stake to Steelers co-owner, Art Rooney. Bell getting the NFL Commissioner job is linked to the very Brooklyn Tigers in this article who’s owner, Dan Topping, announced his intentions to join the new All-America Football Conference after one year playing merged with the Boston Yanks. NFL owners were upset by Topping’s decision, and decided not to renew NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden’s contract, because they felt that he was too much of a gentleman and not forceful enough to deal with the competing All-America Football Conference. Layden resigned on January 11, 1946, and on the same day Bert Bell sold his ownership stake in the Steelers and became the Commissioner of the NFL. How did we get here???

  16. I’m sure Carroll Rosenbloom’s past player/coach relationship with NFL Commissioner Bert Bell while both were with the Penn Quakers in 1926 didn’t hurt Rosenbloom’s chances of getting the Baltimore Colts expansion franchise that purchased the Texans’ assets, which used to be the Boston Yanks, which got all of the players from the Brooklyn Tigers when Topping decided to take his Brooklyn franchise to the All-America Football Conference.

  17. ….and in on March 28th 1983 in the middle of a snowstorm stole it way out of Baltimore taking with it the Colors, trophies, memorabilia and anything else that wasn’t nailed down. It’s drunken Owner said that it was only right to be called the Colts still and observe all records and traditions established over the past 30 years in Baltimore because the Baltimore Colts belonged to him and him only. If he would have had a shred of decency he would have left the history and renamed the team and everybody would have moved on eventually and maybe even lived happily ever after in this fairy tail.

  18. In Teddy We Trust says:

    The Packers won half of their championships decades before any of this happened.

    You know better than that. 7 of the Pack’s 13 titles have come after 1960.
    I expect the dumb, cheap stuff from most of the Viking posters here. Ordinarily you’re able to maintain at least a slightly higher standard.

  19. Mike, I want to commend and thank you for pointing out that there was a direct line of succession from the Boston Yanks to the New York Bulldogs to the New York Yankees to the Dallas Texans to the Baltimore Colts. This is an indisputable fact that the NFL refuses to acknowledge.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!