Major League baseball’s lineup of teams had remained stable and had been limited to the northeast quadrant of the continental United States since 1903. The populations of the ten cities with Major League Baseball, however, had changed both absolutely and relatively. The economic downturn of the 1930s further revealed the inability of some of the cities with two teams to sustain both clubs. St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Boston were declining in population relative to New York and Chicago. Detroit was growing rapidly. With Minor League teams and entire leagues folding in 1931 and 1932, observers called for the consolidation of teams and the relocation of teams in geographically sensible leagues.1 The Major Leagues were not immune to such suggestions.
The Sporting News editorial page began hinting that some Major League franchises might move to other cities. An editorial examined the existing rules pertaining to relocation, mindful that no relocations had occurred since the American League’s Baltimore team moved to New York and became the Yankees (after being the Highlanders for a while). An owner could move his franchise if he could convince a supermajority of his fellow owners to approve the move and if he could offer sufficient payment for invading someone’s Minor League territory. At the winter meetings in December 1939 both leagues made the rules covering relocation more restrictive by requiring a unanimous vote in favor. At the same meetings some owners tried to establish a