Thorn: The Yankees, the Orioles, and major league record-keeping

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on July 23, 2014:

This essay is adapted from one that appeared in many of the eight editions of Total Baseball from 1989 to 2004. My decision to publish is precipitated by a current dustup over’s decision to uncouple the records of the Baltimore Orioles of 1901-02 from those of the successor franchise, today’s New York Yankees ( It is delightful to see so much passion exhibited in the Comments section over a decision with little practical consequence, except that the Yanks’ 10,0000th win will now come sometime next year instead of next month. No individual or team seasonal records have been excised. Anyway, the entire matter of team records when there have been precedessor franchises becomes very murky and has been observed anecdotally by the clubs themselves.

The nascence of the Yankees is an interesting question and unsurprisingly arouses more passion than that of the Pittsburgh Pirates (see: I gave a pretty full rendering of the riotous events of 1902 in this space: In any event, I offered my opinion on the Oriole-Yankee issue as a rather well-informed fan, not as Major League’s Baseball official historian. To my knowledge MLB takes no stance regarding how clubs choose to observe their records. I have excavated the essay below (with cuts and modifications) to demonstrate that baseball’s record book has always been a mine field, which may offer comfort to those currently incensed.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 23, 2014. Last Updated: July 23, 2014.