Additional thoughts on the “Royals vs. Mets: Champions of the Expansion Era”

I’m back writing about the Royals at Sport in American History ahead of the World Series. It is the first World Series featuring 2 expansion teams. I explore what that means and how baseball has changed during its period of relocation and expansion. I also suggest that the Mets and Royals are the best symbols of this era.

Missing from my post is a discussion of race. As Dave Zirin of The Nation points out, because both teams were founded in the expansion era (after 1961), they were never segregated or all-white. The issue of integration is yet another change in baseball in the postwar era that continued on into the expansion era. With this in mind, you can further “read” the expansion era as one of democratic opportunity — more teams, more playoffs, integration, etc. That this is the first World Series without a legacy of segregation highlights progress and change in baseball, but it also shows how recent segregation was, how its legacy permeates baseball, and few of our beloved cultural institutions were innocent. The Mets and Royals are more innocent by the fact of their expansion births, but they too contribute to current racial issues in baseball, such as the under-representation of minority coaches, managers, and administrators. Like the the expansion era, the Mets and Royals represent more democratic opportunities, but full equality remains a dream of the future.

Sport in American History

By Andrew McGregor

Tomorrow night the 2015 World Series begins with the Kansas City Royals hosting the New York Mets. For the first time in its 111 year history, this year’s World Series features two expansion teams. While for most baseball fans this is mostly a meaningless footnotes, it’s a reminder of how much the professional sports landscape has changed over the last 50+ years.

While on the surface, Kansas City and New York seem like opposites, their franchise histories indicate they’re actually quite similar. The Royals and Mets characterize a distinct era in baseball history characterized by relocation and expansion. Both teams were founded to appease critics and preserve MLB’s status quo. They’ve also been two of the most successful expansion teams in the postseason.

Relocation and Expansion

During the 1950s, Major League Baseball (MLB) had a relatively small geographic footprint. The 16 major league teams were located…

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