Years from now, when sports historians look back on 2008, they’ll note that the four major championships were won by teams that have been around for awhile….a long, long while.
In October, the Philadelphia Phillies, who have been a National League member since 1883, won the second World Series in their history, the first since 1980.
The New York Giants, who have been an NFL franchise since 1925 (only the Bears and the Packers have been around longer), won their third Super Bowl and seventh overall NFL title in February.
Earlier this year, the Detroit Red Wings, one of the NHL’s Original Six and a team whose history dates back to 1926, won their 11th Stanley Cup.
And finally the Boston Celtics, along with the Knicks the only two remaining charter franchises of the NBA starting in 1946, captured their 17th title in June when they knocked off the Lakers.
The year that ushered in an area of expansion in North American professional was 1960, when the American Football League was created and the Dallas Cowboys joined the NFL.
Baseball began its growth from 16 teams the following year, while the NBA had only eight teams in 1960. The NHL featured the Original Six until the 1967-68 season when the league expanded to 12 teams.
Today there are 32 NFL teams, and 30 major league baseball, NBA and NHL franchises.
You have to go back to 1976 to discover the last time that four teams — the Reds, Steelers, Celtics and Canadiens — in existence in 1960 won championships in the same season..
Do the math. The Boston Celtics have won 16 NBA titles, the Los Angeles (nee Minneapolis) Lakers 14. When the 62nd NBA Finals are completed in a few weeks, the Celtics and the Lakers will have combined for 31 titles, exactly half of the 62 championships. This is their 11th meeting in the finals, another NBA record.
What about the other sports?. Who are the champions of championships?
It starts with the New York Yankees, the king of champions. The Yankees have won 26 World Series, the most in any of the North American team sports. That’s more than double the number of championships won by the St. Louis Cardinals (10) and Philadelphia-Oakland A’s (9).
In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers have each won five Super Bowls. The Green Packers have won nine total NFL titles and the Chicago Bears 7 since the first NFL championship game in 1933.
In hockey, the Montreal Canadiens, Les Habitants, are far away the ring-leaders with 23 Stanley Cups. The Habs are followed by the Toronto Arenas-St. Pats-Maple Leafs with 13 and the Detroit Red Wings with 11, including this year’s Stanley Cup.
UCLA has won 11 NCAA basketball championships and Kentucky seven since the advent of the NCAA tournament in 1939. Kentucky also won a national championship in 1933.
Notre Dame is the king of college football with 13 national championships, including nine since the polls were first instituted in 1936. In the so-called “early years” of college football (1869-1935), Yale won 18 championships and Princeton 17. All told, Alabama and USC have each won 10 total football championships, seven apiece since 1936.