Posted by Sean Forman on February 23, 2010
This is pretty far down in the weeds, but a lot of what we do when posting these numbers is far down in the weeds. At the prodding of an interested party, I've been asked whether the 1901-1902 Orioles should be part of the New York Yankees history. He argues no. We have shown them as such. I noticed that Palmer/Gillette now show them as not part of the Yankees history in their last ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. Here is a response Gary sent to me when I asked him about it.
We discussed this at length when we did the first edition of our new encyclopedia in 2004. IIRC, the deciding factor was that the Baltimore franchise went bust during the season and was turned over to the league. After the season, the league then sold a new franchise to investors in New York City. We felt that wasn't really a relocation or a transfer; it was simply filling the gap in the league that was opened when the Orioles' franchise disintegrated.
Of the 39 players who appeared for Baltimore in 1902, only five appeared for New York in 1903. Jimmy Williams was the regular second baseman for both clubs. Herm McFarland, a utility player in '02, became a regular outfielder in '03. Ernie Courtney played one game for Balto. in 1902, then 25 for NY in 1903. Harry Howell was the only pitcher of consequence to make the transition. Snake Wiltse (4 G in '03) also appeared for both.
So right now, I'm probably going to switch the 1901 and 1902 Baltimore teams to their own franchise and have the Yankees start in 1903. Anyone want to convince me otherwise?