Thursday, January 24, 2013

San Francisco: One Win Away from 2 Titles At Once

If the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, the Northern California metropolis will hold the World Championships of both baseball and football at the same time.

This is a stunning thing, considering that, until November 2010, the Giants had never won the World Series, and have now won 2 of the last 3.

In fact, from October 1972 to January 1981, teams from across the Bay in Oakland had won 6 titles: The '72, '73 and '74 Athletics, the '75 Warriors, and the '76 and '80 Raiders.  (The Raiders were in Los Angeles when they won Super Bowl XVIII, making them 1983 NFL Champions.) While San Francisco, home to the Giants from 1958 onward, the 49ers from 1946 onward, and the Warriors from 1962 to 1971 when they moved to Oakland, had never won.

But since then, there have been 7 titles for San Francisco against just 1 for Oakland: The 1989 A's, as opposed to the 1981, '84, '88, '89 and '94 49ers, and the 2010 and '12 Giants.

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Holding 2 titles at once is rare.  Strictly speaking, it's been done 19 times; if you count an entire metropolitan area, 25 times.

In these listings, the first date given will be that of the second team to win it, and the second date will be that of either team giving up their title when it was won by another team.

1. Cleveland, sort of, December 1920 to October 1921: The Cleveland Indians won the 1920 World Series, and the Akron Pros won the first Championship of the American Professional Football Association, which became the NFL in 1922.

2. New York, December 1927 to December 1928: The New York Yankees won the 1927 and 1928 World Series, the New York Giants won the 1927 NFL Championship, and the New York Rangers won the 1928 Stanley Cup. Which means the Yankees and Rangers were champions at the same time from April 1928 to April 1929.

3. Boston, sort of, April to October 1929: The Rhode Island-based Providence Steam Roller (for some reason, it was never the plural "Rollers") won the 1928 NFL Championship, and the Boston Bruins won the 1929 Stanley Cup. As many times as the Bruins and Celtics have reached their sport's finals, they have never both won in the same year, although they have won in back-to-back years (Celtics in '69, Bruins in '70).

4. New York, April 1933 to April 1934: The Rangers won the 1933 Stanley Cup, and the baseball version of the New York Giants won the 1933 World Series.

5. Chicago, April to December 1934: The Chicago Bears won the 1933 NFL Championship, the first official NFL Championship Game (previous titles were awarded to teams with the best record at the end of the season), and the Chicago Blackhawks won the 1934 Stanley Cup.

6. Detroit, December 1935 to October 1936: The Detroit Tigers won the 1935 World Series, the Detroit Lions won the 1935 NFL Championship, and the Detroit Red Wings won the 1936 Stanley Cup.  When Joe Louis, born in Alabama but trained as a boxer in Detroit, won the heavyweight championship in 1937, Detroit started calling itself "The City of Champions." That tag was not revived in the 1950s, although it could have been.

7. New York, December 1938 to December 1939: The Yankees won the 1938 and 1939 World Series, and the Giants won the 1938 NFL Championship.

8. New York, April to October 1940: The Yankees won the 1939 World Series, and the Rangers won the 1940 Stanley Cup. The Giants were unsuccessful in defending their NFL Championship, losing the Championship Game in 1939, or else this would have been another threesome.

9. Detroit, December 1952 to April 1953: The Red Wings won the 1952 Stanley Cup, and the
Lions won the 1952 and 1953 NFL Championship.

10. Detroit, April to December 1954: The Lions won the 1952 and 1953 NFL Championship, though lost the Championship Game in 1954; and the Red Wings won the 1954 and 1955 Stanley Cups.

11. New York, December 1956 to October 1957: The Yankees won the 1956 World Series, and the Giants won the 1956 NFL Championship.  As this was the Giants' first season at the original Yankee Stadium, this made the big ballyard in The Bronx the first building to be home to 2 defending World Champions at once.  (The Lions hadn't yet moved into the ballpark known as Tiger Stadium while both they and the Tigers were World Champs.)

12. New York, October 1969 to January 1970: The New York Jets won Super Bowl III in 1969, and the New York Mets won the 1969 World Series.  This made Shea Stadium the second building to have 2 titlists, although, by the time the Mets played the 1970 home opener, the Jets had already been dethroned.

13. New York, May to October 1970: The Mets won the 1969 World Series, and the New York Knicks won the 1970 NBA Title. However, by the time the Knicks won, the Jets had already been dethroned for 4 months, so while this was 3 titles in a short span for New York, it was not 3 titles at once.

14. Baltimore, January to October 1971: The Baltimore Orioles won the 1970 World Series, and the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V in 1971.  This made Memorial Stadium the third building to host 2 reigning World Champions.

15. San Francisco, more specifically Oakland, May to October 1975: The Oakland Athletics won the 1974 World Series (and 1972 and 1973), and the Golden State Warriors won the 1975 NBA Title. The Oakland Raiders couldn't quite make it 3 at once, but they did win Super Bowl XI in 1977.  And while the A's and W's did not share a building, they did share a sports complex, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex.

16. Pittsburgh, October 1979 to October 1980: The Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XIII in 1979 and Super Bowl XIV in 1980, and the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1979 World Series.  At the time, Pittsburgh called itself "The City of Champions," as had Detroit in the 1930s.  Three Rivers Stadium became the fourth building to host 2 reigning World Champions.

17. Los Angeles, June to October 1982: The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 1981 World Series, and the Los Angeles Lakers won the 1982 NBA Title.

18. New York, officially if not actually, January to October 1987: The Mets won the 1986 World Series, and the Meadowlands, New Jersey-based Giants won Super Bowl XXI in 1987.

19. Los Angeles, October 1988 to June 1989: The Lakers won the 1987 and 1988 NBA Titles, and the Dodgers won the 1988 World Series.

20. San Francisco, sort of, October 1989 to October 1990: The San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 and Super Bowl XXIV in 1990, and the Oakland Athletics won the 1989 World Series, against the San Francisco Giants.  Had the Giants beaten the A's in the "Bay Bridge Series" or "BART Series," Candlestick Park would have been home to 2 titleholders.

21. New York, sort of, June 2000 to June 2001: The Yankees won the 1999 and 2000 World Series, and the New Jersey Devils won the 2000 Stanley Cup.

22. Los Angeles, sort of, October 2002 to June 2003: The Lakers won the 2000, 2001 and 2002 NBA Titles, and the team then known as the Anaheim Angels won the 2002 World Series.

23. Boston, October 2004 to October 2005: The New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 and Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, and the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. We now have reason to believe that all of these titles are tainted.

24. Boston, June to October 2008: The Red Sox won the 2007 World Series (tainted), and the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Title (without cheating... as far as we know). In spite of the Celtics' 17 Titles, this is the only time they and another New England team won in the same 12-month period.

25. Pittsburgh, June 2009 to February 2010: The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, and the Pittsburgh Penguins won the 2009 Stanley Cup.

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New York has done it 9 times -- amazingly, 4 times without the Yankees having been involved.  Boston, Detroit and Los Angeles have done it 3 times; Pittsburgh and San Francisco twice; Baltimore, Chicago and Cleveland once.

New York (5 times), Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, and, sort of, Cleveland and San Francisco are the only metro areas to hold the MLB and NFL titles at the same time. If the 49ers win this Super Bowl, we can remove the "sort of" tag from the city.  If you count the Grey Cup, the championship of the Canadian Football League, then Toronto, with the Argonauts winning in November 1991 and the Blue Jays winning in October 1992, held 2 titles for a matter of days in the fall of 1992.

Los Angeles (twice, and, sort of, a 3rd time), New York, Boston and San Francisco (through Oakland) are the only metro areas to hold the MLB and NBA titles at the same time.

New York is the only city to hold the MLB and NHL titles at the same time.  In spite of the Celtics' 17 titles, the closest Boston has come is the Celtics and Bruins both making the 1974 Finals, but the Bruins lost.

No city has ever held the NFL and NBA titles at the same time.  The closest call was in 2008, when the Celtics won their most recent title a few months after the Patriots blew their shot at 19-0.

Detroit (3 times), New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and, sort of, Boston are the only metro areas to hold the NFL and NHL titles at the same time. If you count the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup, then Toronto has done it 6 times, from December 1914 to March 1915, from March to December 1922, from December 1942 to April 1943, from December 1945 to April 1946, from April 1947 to November 1948, and from April to November 1951.  Montreal has done it 4 times, from December 1931 to April 1932, November 1944 to April 1945, May to November 1971, and November 1977 to November 1978.  Ottawa held both titles from April to December 1927.  Edmonton held both titles from November 1987 to November 1988.

New York, from the Rangers' Cup in April 1928 to the Giants surrendering the NFL Championship in December; and Detroit, from the Wings' Cup in April 1936 to the Tigers' surrendering the American League Pennant in October; are the only cities to hold 3 titles at once.  No city has held 3 titles since the debut of the NBA in 1946.  The closest call has been 2007-08, when the Red Sox and Celtics won, but the Patriots, I cannot emphasize this enough, blew their chance at 19-0.

That no city has held 3 titles since the founding of the NBA means that no city has ever held all 4 titles at once.  The closest call has been in Philadelphia, which pulled off what remains a unique feat, reaching the Finals of all 4 sports: In May 1980, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals; in June, the 76ers reached the NBA Finals; in October, the Phillies won the National League Pennant; and in January 1981, the Eagles reached Super Bowl XV.  But of those 4, only the Phillies won.

Only 7 metro areas have won all 4 titles at all: New York (achieving it with the 1970 Knicks), Philadelphia (1974 Flyers), Detroit (1989 Pistons), Chicago (1991 Bulls), Boston (2001-02 Patriots) and Los Angeles (2007 Anaheim Ducks, or the 2012 Kings if you don't count Anaheim).

Pittsburgh has won an ABA Title (1968 Pipers), but hasn't had an NBA team since the league's first season, 1946-47.  Toronto has won 13 Stanley Cups, 2 World Series, and 18 Grey Cups, but never an NBA Title.  Miami, St. Louis and Washington have won all but the Stanley Cup -- and, by a weird turn of events, while all 3 of those cities have reached the Stanley Cup Finals, they all got swept, including St. Louis all 3 times.

In December 1936, with the Boston Redskins having poor attendance at Fenway Park, and the Eastern Division winner having the turn to host the NFL Championship Game, the game was moved to the Polo Grounds, which made that ballpark the first stadium to host a World Series and an NFL Championship Game in adjoining seasons.  (It did so again, December '36 and October '37.)

Cleveland Municipal Stadium did so in October and December 1954, the old Yankee Stadium in October and December 1956 (and December '56 and October '57), Yankee Stadium again in October and December 1958, Yankee Stadium again in October and December 1962 (and December '62 and October '63), the Metrodome in Minneapolis in October 1991 and January 1992, and Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in January and October 1998.

Wrigley Field in Chicago was scheduled to do so, having hosted the World Series in October 1932, but a snowstorm forced the NFL Championship Game indoors in December.  The Metrodome added the NCAA Finals in April '92, and the nearby Met Center had hosted the Stanley Cup Finals in April '91.

Arenas hosting both the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals in the same season are: Boston Garden in 1957 (Celtics won, Bruins lost), '58 (both lost) and '74 (Celtics won, Bruins lost); the current Madison Square Garden in 1972 (Knicks and Rangers both lost) and '94 (Rangers won, Knicks lost); the Spectrum in Philadelphia in 1980 (76ers and Flyers both lost); Chicago Stadium in 1992 (Bulls won, Blackhawks lost); and New Jersey's Meadowlands Arena, then known as the Continental Airlines Arena, in 2003 (Devils won, Nets lost).

Note that I'm not counting the various AFLs, the AAFC, the WFL, the USFL, the ABA or the WHA.  Their champions could hardly be called "World Champions," aside from the 1968-69 Jets and the 1969-70 Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the NFL Champion Colts and Minnesota Vikings, respectively, in Super Bowls.

If I did count those leagues, the only addition would be Cleveland, which would have been dual champions from December 1948 (when the Browns won the AAFC title) to October 1949 (when the Indians were succeeded as World Series winners).  But that would have depended on whether the '48 Browns (who did go undefeated) would have beaten the '48 NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles.  Famously (at least, at the time), in what was, de facto if not actual, a "unification bout," the Browns clobbered the Eagles at Municipal (later JFK) Stadium in the first game of the 1950 season, a Saturday night precursor to the later Monday Night Football, and then beat the Los Angeles Rams in the '50 NFL title game.  But that doesn't necessarily mean they would have beaten the '48 or '49 Eagles.

3 comments:

Chris B said...

Minor Correction: You stated New York was the only city to hold the MLB and NHL titles at the same time.

Detroit also did this in the '35-'36 sports season. The Tigers won the world series in October of 1935. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in April, 1936.

Chris B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris B said...

Looking at it again, you mention the Celtics in that paragraph. I think perhaps you meant "New York is the only city to hold the *NBA* and NHL titles at the same time."