In response to some confusion on Wikipedia about what happened to Western League franchises, as that league was converted to the American League, I did some research. Here’s what I found about the franchise transfers between the end of the 1900 American League “minor” season and the first season the AL played as a major league in 1901.

In the Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1901, it is reported that the American League voted to drop Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Buffalo, and award new franchises to new backers in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston. The article goes on to report that “Manning’s Kansas City franchise having been transferred to Washington at a previous meeting.” (Seeks to snare Duffy of Boston, Chicago Daily Tribue, Jan. 29, 1901, pg. 9. )

Minneapolis owner C. H. Saulpaugh, Indianapolis owner W. H. Watkins and Kansas City owner James Manning opposed the move of the American Legaue into eastern cities. Only Manning appears to have been eventually swayed, and agreed to move his franchise. (Manning to put club here, The Washington Post, Nov. 12, 1900, pg. 8 ) The Indianapolis club jumped to the 1901 incarnation of the American Association that the National League formed but never got off the ground. (Teams at league park, The Washington Post, Jan. 6, 1901, pg. 8 )

Saulpaugh sold his Minneapolis club, the lease on its ballpark Nicollet Park, and the American League players, to A. B. Beal. The Jan. 16 Chicago Daily Tribune calls them “the Western league franchise.” (Watkins shows his hand, Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan. 16, 1901, pg. 8 ) This likely alludes to them joing a new minor league that was planned to play in cities left behind by the American League. (Johnson returns in pacific mood, Chicago Daily, Dec. 23, 1900, pg. 17 )

As late as November 23, 1900 Buffalo was to be given a one-year contract to remain a memeber of the AL. (Baseballfor Baltimore, New York Times, Nov. 23, 1900, pg. 8 ) By January, enthusiasm for a Boston club meant the AL would either go to 10 teams or have to drop one. (Circuit of ten clubs, Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan. 13, 1901, pg. 18 ) Buffalo lost out but President Franklin of Buffalo was satisfied with the “agreement that the American leaguers would permit him to keep his team intact so far as they were concerned. They promised not sign any of his players if he went into another league.” (Seeks to snare Duffy of Boston, Chicago Daily Tribue, Jan. 29, 1901, pg. 9. )

The player rosters from opening day 1900 compared to the rosters of 1901 seem to bear this scenario out. Washington in 1901 had several players from Kansas City of 1900. The rosters of Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia do not seem to share any similarity to the rosters of 1900 Minneapolis, Buffalo, and Indianapolis.(New baseball faces, Chicago Daily, Apr. 8, 1900, pg. 18 ) A preseason analysis by the Chicago Daily acknowledges the Washington Club is built around a nucleus from Manning’s old Kansas City club, but treats Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia as new teams. (Lineup of the rival leagues, Chicago Daily, Mar. 31, 1901, pg. 17 )

This research indicates that Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland, held their clubs steady from 1900 to 1901. Kansas City moved to Washington under the same ownership by Manning. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston seem to have been created anew with new ownership.

Newspaper articles found at ProQuest Historical Newspapers (