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The Oldest MiLB Team Names, Updated for 2020

Buffalo Bisons 1877

What are the oldest team names in Minor League Baseball? We’ve updated a 2011 list for the 2020 season, adding the likes of Trash Pandas, Wind Surge and Sea Unicorns to the mix.

It’s surprising how many team names change in the course of a year or two. Most changes are of a more recent vintage, some not: the Mobile Bears team name, dating back to 1918, goes away with the move of the BayBears to Madison, AL. The Syracuse Chiefs name, which dates back to 1934, went away this past season with a New York Mets team purchase and rebranding.

This listing is subject to some caveats and conditions. Note that this list doesn’t measure continuous use of the name, just when the team name was first used. If we were to look at a list covering the continuous use of a team name, we’re guessing the Rochester Red Wings would top the list. (Perhaps we’ll compile that list next.) We fudged a little bit when the same name was used in different ways: for instance, the original name for the Birmingham Barons was the Birmingham Coal Barons, the original use of Travelers was with the Little Rock Travelers, and the original use of the Smokies name was with the Knoxville Smokies. In some cases, multiple franchises used the same name as a way to denote continuity, as was the case with the Durham Bulls and Burlington Bees.

(Disclaimer: We’re not perfect. If you have a documented change for this list, drop us a line at

The award for the top spot: the Buffalo Bisons, who first played in 1877 under the auspices of the New York State Association. That team ended up folding before the end of the season.

Buffalo Bisons, 1877
Birmingham Barons, 1885
Chattanooga Lookouts, 1885
Arkansas Travelers, 1895
Indianapolis Indians, 1902
Toledo Mud Hens, 1902
Spokane Indians, 1903
Durham Bulls, 1913
Asheville Tourists, 1915
Salt Lake Bees, 1915
Burlington Bees, 1924
Harrisburg Senators, 1924
Tennessee Smokies, 1925
Rochester Red Wings, 1929
San Antonio Missions, 1933
Johnson City Cardinals, 1939
Wilmington Blue Rocks, 1940
Stockton Ports, 1946
Billings Mustangs, 1948
Peoria Chiefs, 1953
Eugene Emeralds, 1955
Tampa Tarpons, 1957
Norfolk Tides, 1961
Elizabethton Twins, 1974
Columbus Clippers, 1977
Pawtucket Red Sox, 1977
Tulsa Drillers, 1977
Dunedin Blue Jays, 1978
Nashville Sounds, 1978
Vancouver Canadians, 1978
Kingsport Mets, 1980
Hagerstown Suns, 1981
Iowa Cubs, 1982
Boise Hawks, 1987
San Jose Giants, 1988
St. Lucie Mets, 1988
Frederick Keys, 1989
Carolina Mudcats, 1991
Kane County Cougars, 1991
Quad Cities River Bandits, 1992
Bowie Baysox, 1993
Cedar Rapids Kernels, 1993
Charlotte Knights, 1993
Danville Braves, 1993
Hickory Crawdads, 1993
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 1993
Augusta GreenJackets, 1994
Charleston RiverDogs, 1994
Clinton LumberKings, 1994
Hudson Valley Renegades, 1994
Lake Elsinore Storm, 1994
Ogden Raptors, 1994
Portland Sea Dogs, 1994
Trenton Thunder, 1994
West Michigan Whitecaps, 1994
Beloit Snappers, 1995
Everett AquaSox, 1995
Lynchburg Hillcats, 1995
Tacoma Rainiers, 1995
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, 1995
Auburn Doubledays, 1996
Delmarva Shorebirds, 1996
Lancaster JetHawks, 1996
Lansing Lugnuts, 1996
Lowell Spinners, 1996
Princeton Rays, 1997
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, 1997
Batavia Muckdogs, 1998
Fresno Grizzlies, 1998
Jupiter Hammerheads, 1998
Memphis Redbirds, 1998
Altoona Curve, 1999
Erie SeaWolves, 1999
Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 1999
Midland RockHounds, 1999
Myrtle Beach Pelicans, 1999
Staten Island Yankees, 1999
Williamsport Crosscutters, 1999
Dayton Dragons, 2000
Round Rock Express, 2000
Brooklyn Cyclones, 2001
Lakewood Blue Claws, 2001
Lexington Legends, 2001
Sacramento River Cats, 2001
Tri-City Dust Devils, 2001
Aberdeen IronBirds, 2002
Louisville Bats, 2002
Tri-City ValleyCats, 2002
Albuquerque Isotopes, 2003
Frisco RoughRiders, 2003
Inland Empire 66ers, 2003
Lake County Captains, 2003
Palm Beach Cardinals, 2003
Rome Braves, 2003
Clearwater Threshers, 2004
Idaho Falls Chukars, 2004
Montgomery Biscuits, 2004
New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 2004
Corpus Christi Hooks, 2005
Greensboro Grasshoppers, 2005
Modesto Nuts, 2005
Orem Owlz, 2005
Springfield Cardinals, 2005
West Virginia Power, 2005
Greenville Drive, 2006
State College Spikes, 2006
Vermont Lake Monsters, 2006
Burlington Royals, 2007
Great Lakes Loons, 2007
Mississippi Braves, 2007
Lakeland Flying Tigers, 2007
Great Falls Voyagers, 2008
Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 2008
Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 2008
Salem Red Sox, 2008
Bowling Green Hot Rods, 2009
Charlotte Stone Crabs, 2009
Fort Wayne TinCaps, 2009
Reno Aces, 2009
Winston-Salem Dash, 2009
Visalia Rawhide, 2009
Bradenton Marauders, 2010
Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2010
Bluefield Blue Jays, 2011
Jackson Generals, 2011
Omaha Storm Chasers, 2011
Grand Junction Rockies, 2012
Pensacola Blue Wahoos, 2012
Hillsboro Hops, 2013
Reading Fightin Phils, 2013
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 2013
Bristol Pirates, 2014
Akron RubberDucks, 2014
El Paso Chihuahuas, 2014
Biloxi Shuckers, 2015
Daytona Tortugas, 2015
Oklahoma City Dodgers, 2015
Pulaski Yankees, 2015
South Bend Cubs, 2015
West Virginia Black Bears, 2015
Columbia Fireflies, 2016
Hartford Yard Goats, 2016
Binghamton Rumble Ponies, 2017
Down East Wood Ducks, 2017
Florida Fire Frogs, 2017
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 2017
Greeneville Reds, 2018
Gwinnett Stripers, 2018
Amarillo Sod Poodles, 2019
Fayetteville Woodpeckers, 2019
Las Vegas Aviators, 2019
Rocky Mountain Vibes, 2019
Syracuse Mets, 2019
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 2020
Fredericksburg Nationals, 2020
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, 2020
Missoula PaddleHeads, 2020
Norwich Sea Unicorns, 2020
Rocket City Trash Pandas, 2020
Wichita Wind Surge, 2020

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