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5 Reasons There Are Two Baseball Teams in Chicago

Did you know that out of the 50 states in America, there are only 30 Major League Baseball teams? Some quick math will let you know there are some states that don’t have a baseball team, but what some people find crazy is that there are a few states that have more than one baseball team.

A street in downtown Chicago with overlaying text that reads "5 Reasons There Are Two Baseball Teams in Chicago"

I grew up in Illinois and Illinois is one of those states with more than one baseball team. In fact, both teams are hosted in the same city – Chicago. As someone who grew up in Illinois, I wanted to help shed some light on why Chicago has two baseball teams.

Chicago has two baseball teams because each team represents a different baseball league. The Chicago Cubs play in the National League while the Chicago White Sox play in the American League. Additionally, Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States, so it has the market to support two baseball teams.

There is more to the story so keep reading to learn more about why Chicago has two baseball teams.

1. Two Chicago Teams Represent a Major League Rivalry

Closeup of the Wrigley Field scoreboard located outside the stadium

Chicago hosts two teams – the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. The Chicago Cubs are in the National League while the Chicago White Sox are in the American League.

Because both teams are located in the same city and because each team plays in different leagues, the Cubs and the White Sox have naturally become a rivalry.

The rivalry between the two Chicago teams also represents the history of the American League and the National League.

Before the American League and National League merged, the National League (NL) enjoyed a monopoly over the organization and business of baseball in America. Although they have had several competitors throughout history, the American League (AL) did not back out of the fight.

Before the two leagues merged, there went through a “baseball war“. The American League started to move into National League territory on the East coast, poaching players from its opponent and creating a rivalry.

The National League was also tied to corruption cases because of fixing games and gambling. The American League came into the scene to organize professional and uncompromised games for baseball fans.

Finally, in 1903, both organizations agreed to recognize each other as major leagues hence the birth of the Major League Baseball organization and the World Series.

Although they merged, each league kept their respective teams who competed in the World Series Games to declare a National Baseball Champion.

For the first 50 years of the competition, the American League has won 33 titles and the National League 17. Some people argue that the winning streak is because the AL produces better teams than the NL.

Over the years, the NL has won more titles against its opponent, even in the All-star games. The competition between the two leagues seems to be ongoing, and if we look at the statistics, the AL seems to be winning.

What has not changed is that Chicago has two winning MLB teams, and the fans continue to show up and support their teams.

2. Chicago is Large Enough to Support Two Teams

Wideshot view of the Chicago skyline with river

Chicago is one of the largest cities in America, with a population of over 2.5 million people.

If you think about it geographically, it makes sense why there are two baseball teams, one to represent each side of the major city (north side and south side). Think about the infrastructure and viewing access for a large city, especially in the past.

The Chicago Cubs have always played at Wrigley Field, located on the north side of Chicago. This location might have made it hard for people from south Chicago to come to enjoy the game.

Promoting the game throughout the entire city was also tricky so some people might have been clueless about the baseball games up north. It makes sense for baseball teams to promote to their side of the city, which includes the fans that are the most likely to come to the stadium.

Did you know that Major League Baseball games were not broadcast until 1939? Imagine trying to get the word out about a baseball team who plays in the north part of the city while you’re living in the south part of the city. It would be pretty difficult.

On the other hand, there are some larger cities and states that do not have a baseball team, so a large population does not guarantee a baseball team.

Some argue that baseball’s popularity across the country is diminishing, and some of the current markets that host the franchise teams are failing. For example, despite having winning teams, Tampa Bay and Oakland have failed to support their baseball teams in the past.

Chicago is still a massive market for baseball today, and the two teams bring in good money on both sides. The Cubs have a longer history with the city and the sport, bringing in more tourists, merchandise deals, ad revenue, etc., during baseball season.

The Sox are just as valuable in the South as they have won the same number of World Series titles (3) and play in a modern venue. Each team gives the audience a different experience that is worth investing in.

3. Two Chicago Teams Translate to a Symbol of Unity

Cloud Gate, or "The Bean", located in Chicago, IL

Baseball began as a local game played and enjoyed by everybody in the community. Although the game is not as popular today, baseball played an essential role in bringing people together and showing resilience in difficult times.

Many baseball players joined the Civil War and continued to play baseball during the war. This led to the game gaining more popularity among locals in different cities and towns in America. Those who could not play watched.

As much as there is a rivalry between teams and leagues, baseball is a personal game among the American people as it is tied to many historical moments that brought the nation through difficult times.

Chicago is a geographically polarized city, and the two teams help bring the north and south sides together to enjoy baseball.

An example of two Chicago teams providing a symbol of unity is the friendships I’ve developed with players on my team who are also from Illinois, but root for the wrong team (the White Sox). Even though we disagree on which Chicago team to root for, we enjoy poking fun at each other’s teams.

4. Baseball is Popular in Chicago

Chicago has played a significant role in the birth of professional baseball.

In 1867, Chicago had 45 amateur baseball teams competing against each other at different levels, and these games brought in massive crowds. The massive crowds caught the media’s attention, and in 1887, the Chicago City League was formed.

Although the League was disbanded in 1895, independent professional baseball clubs remained popular and still attracted huge crowds. In the 1900s, at least six baseball clubs in the city were considered professional.

Most of these clubs diminished, but the Cubs, White Sox, and American Giants still had a lot of fans in the Midwest League. Years later, love for the sport has not changed, and the two remaining teams still draw significant crowds during games.

The Cubs have always played in the north, so it made sense that the White Sox played in the south to represent the southside.

Despite the teams being rivals, baseball remains one of the most popular sports in Chicago, and fans are always excited for baseball season.

5. Two Chicago Teams Encourage Economic Competition

Chicago’s large population makes it a huge market with different opinions and preferences. When there are so many potential fans in Chicago, each team needs to step up their game in order to attract more fans.

And there are two great ways a team can attract fans – by winning more games and by having better amenities.

For example, the formation of the White Sox led to the development of a new stadium, Comiskey Park.

The stadium is bigger and more modern than Wrigley, where the Cubs play, offering a better experience for their fans. The stadium can host a crowd of over 40,000 people, increasing tourism and encouraging the growth of other local businesses in the southside of Chicago.

Having two teams in Chicago has encouraged fair competition in the game and economically in their respective regions. People come from all over the country to watch baseball in Chicago, but they also get to enjoy different experiences within the city.

So having a professional baseball team in your city can lead to economic benefits that go beyond just baseball.

Is Chicago the Only City With Multiple Baseball Teams?

Chicago is not the only city with two baseball teams. New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay area have two baseball teams.

States like Florida, Texas, Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania also have two baseball teams.

Like Chicago, these cities have two teams representing either side of their large communities and have the market to support multiple teams.

New York is arguably where baseball began, so the game has historical value as well as die-hard fans who have maintained the game’s popularity to this day.

Here is a table showing the various states with their two baseball teams.

StateMLB Teams
IllinoisChicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox
New YorkNew York Yankees and New York Mets
OhioCleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds
MissouriSt. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals
PennsylvaniaPittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies
TexasTexas Rangers and Houston Astros
FloridaMiami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays

California has five MLB teams making it the state with the most baseball teams. The five teams in California are:

  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Oakland Athletics
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants

Why Do Some States Not Have Baseball Teams?

Baseball has changed with the times, and although the game has remained prevalent in some states, the hype fizzled out in others. Games like football and basketball took over the baseball crowd, and they never looked back.

Some states went broke and could not support their teams by building new stadiums and infrastructure to support the teams.

One city, Washington D.C., has a baseball team (the Washington Nationals), but D.C. is not considered a US state.

Additionally, many baseball teams that were recognized in the past have either disbanded or relocated to another city. For example, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers relocated from New York to California because of financial difficulties.

Despite being a sports city, Louisville, Kentucky, does not have a baseball team. Although the state used to be home to the Louisville Colonels, Black Caps, Monroe Monarchs, and the Grays, which were all teams in the Negro League.

Other states that used to have baseball teams include:

  • Arkansas
  • New Jersey
  • Alabama
  • Louisiana
  • Kansas
  • Connecticut
  • Virginia
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee

Because the baseball teams in these states were disbanded or relocated, they shifted focus and began supporting other major sports like football and basketball. For example, Tennessee is home to the NBA Grizzlies and NFL Titans, which enjoy massive support from the people.

The MLB also chooses where to expand based on market size. Baseball does well in big and small-sized markets. For example, the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox are considered large markets, while others, like the Kansas City Royals from Missouri, are small.

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Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball in an adult baseball team in the surrounding area. Read more about Steve Nelson.