The Shortest-Lived Sports Franchises in History

Root, root, root for the home team—if they stay in town long enough, that is.

Short-Lived Sports Teams

Kansas City Scouts — 2 years in the NHL

In the late ’60s and ’70s, the NHL tripled in size going from six teams in 1967 to 18 by 1974. The last new additions of that expansion period were the Washington Capitals and the Kansas City Scouts. From the beginning, the team was troubled. Before play even began, the team name had to be changed from Mohawks due to the objection of the similarly named Chicago Blackhawks. And then they had to play their first eight games on the road because their home ice at Kemper Arena wasn’t done being constructed. Final record at the end of the 1974-75 season: 15-54-11. In season 2, the team won just one game between December 30 and the end of the season in April. An economic recession in the Midwest and poor game play meant attendance at games was spotty, and so the team didn’t make such money. After only 2,000 people bought season tickets for a third season, the owners group sold the team to a group that relocated the team to Denver, and renamed it the Colorado Rockies. (The team moved from there after just six years, and in 1982 became the New Jersey Devils.)

Seattle Pilots — 1 year in Major League Baseball

After the successful moves of the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, at the beginning of the 1960s, Major League Baseball was keen to place teams in more West Coast cities. The next-largest city after San Francisco and Los Angeles was Seattle, which also played host to the Seattle Rainiers, one of the biggest draws in minor league baseball. After the  Kansas City Athletics both nearly moved to the city in 1967 (but went for Oakland instead), Major League Baseball placed expansion teams in Kansas City and Seattle. Kansas City was so eager to field a new team that Missouri senator Stuart Symington pressured baseball bigwigs to move up the new team’s start date from 1971 to 1969—which meant the new Seattle Pilots would have to rush to start as well. However, their playing field (a domed stadium approved by taxpayers) wasn’t yet ready, and the team had to play in the tiny, old Sick’s Stadium which didn’t have a working scoreboard and many of its bathrooms didn’t function properly. With little operating money because few people wanted to attend a Pilots game—not to mention a 64-98 last-place record in the American League West—the Pilots were ready to fly from Seattle after just one season. Team president Dewey Soriano contacted Bud Selig, a former co-owner of the Milwaukee Braves who had been trying to get a team back to his city since the old one had moved to Atlanta. After a month of secret meetings at the end of the 1969 season, Soriano sold the Pilots to Selig; the Milwaukee Brewers started play in April 1970.

Providence Steamrollers — 3 years in the NBA

Before it changed its name to the NBA, the premier pro basketball league was called the Basketball Association of America. Founded in 1946, the league had 11 teams, and one of them was the Rhode Island-based Providence Steamrollers. They got off to an okays tart in the 1946-47 season, finishing with 28 wins and 32 losses. But in the team’s second year of existence, things got a lot worse—they won only 6 games, which is still an NBA record for leas games won by a team in a season. For the team’s third (and ultimately final) season, 1948-49, they doubled that total to a measly 12. After those three very unsuccessful years, the Steamrollers went out of business. Still, they managed to set a couple of records that didn’t involve losing: In 1948, guard/forward Nat Hickey was 46 years old, which makes him the oldest player in NBA history. And at 6’8″, center George Nostrand was the tallest player in the first few seasons of the NBA.