These teams went longest before 1st WS

October 31st, 2019

The Nationals have done what no team in franchise history had done before: After 50 years -- 36 in Montreal as the Expos and 14 more in Washington -- the Nationals reached the World Series. To cap that off, they won it all.

No franchise had gone longer before appearing in its first World Series. With a 7-4 win against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, the Nats ended that unfortunate streak.

Here's the rest of the list behind them -- the franchises with the longest droughts before reaching the World Series for the first time.

This list includes two types of entries:

  1. The longest droughts for franchises overall, even if they moved cities. (For example, the Expos/Nats and Senators/Rangers combined).
  2. The longest droughts for teams in their current cities, if they had a long drought once they moved there. (For example, the Braves following their move to Atlanta.)

Longest droughts before first WS appearance

1. Expos/Nationals: 50 seasons (1969-2018)
First WS appearance: 2019
First WS title: 2019
The Nats finally put the franchise's snakebitten, Fall Classic-less history to bed. Of course, the Expos moved to Washington prior to the 2005 season, so if you only count their history in D.C., it’s a 14-year drought. Washington has plenty of postseason demons -- the four gut-wrenching first-round exits in six years from 2012-17 -- and this was the team's best chance ever to bury them. The Nationals went through the 107-win Astros, too, and won the World Series.

2. Senators/Rangers: 49 seasons (1961-2009)
First WS appearance: 2010 (lost to Giants)
First WS title: TBD
It took the Rangers a long time to finally make it to the World Series -- only to lose back-to-back Fall Classics once they got there. They never got close in their 11 seasons as the Washington Senators, and they lost three times in the ALDS after they moved to Texas before making the World Series in 2010 and '11.

3 (tie). Mariners: 43 seasons (1977-present)
First WS appearance: TBD
The Mariners are the only current MLB franchise to never make a World Series. The M's last made the playoffs in 2001, meaning they take an 18-year postseason drought into the 2020 season, in addition to their ongoing 43-year World Series appearance drought. Seattle has made the playoffs four times in franchise history and the ALCS three times, but they've never gotten past that point and into the Fall Classic, even in their 116-win 2001 season.

3 (tie). Astros: 43 seasons (1962-2004)
First WS appearance: 2005 (lost to White Sox)
First WS title: 2017 (beat Dodgers)
The Astros are such a powerhouse now that it's easy to forget their longtime struggles. Houston didn't make the playoffs for the first 18 seasons of franchise history, then fell short of the World Series in eight different postseasons before finally making it in 2005. The Astros got swept in that World Series by the White Sox, but they finally got to celebrate a championship in 2017 after an instant-classic seven-game victory over the Dodgers.

5 (tie). Angels: 41 seasons (1961-2001)
First WS appearance/title: 2002 (beat Giants)
The Angels have made 10 postseason appearances but only one World Series -- in 2002, when they rallied late in Game 6 and then triumphed over the Giants in Game 7. Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus, Garrett Anderson, Tim Salmon and Troy Percival led that Anaheim team to the Fall Classic. Can Mike Trout lead them to another one?

5 (tie). Browns/Orioles: 41 seasons (1903-43)
First WS appearance: 1944 (as Browns, lost to Cardinals)
First WS title: 1966 (as Orioles, beat Dodgers)
The Orioles franchise, an American League original, didn't play in a World Series for over 40 years. In that first appearance, Stan Musial and the Cardinals took them down in six games. Then they didn't make another Fall Classic for more than two more decades, by which time the franchise had not only moved to Baltimore but played 12 seasons as the Orioles. That second appearance produced the O's first World Series title, as they swept the Dodgers with a team led by Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer.

7. Rangers (Texas only): 38 seasons (1972-2009)
First WS appearance: 2010 (lost to Giants)
First WS title: TBD
Even ignoring their time as the Senators and starting from their move to Texas, the Rangers went nearly four decades before making the World Series. Their first appearance was a loss to the even-year-magic Giants in 2010. Their second, the next year, was a heartbreaker. The Rangers were a strike away from a championship in the ninth and 10th innings of Game 6, only for the Cardinals to rally and win in seven games. The Rangers still haven't won a World Series.

8. Braves (Atlanta only): 25 seasons (1966-90)
First WS appearance: 1991 (lost to Twins)
First WS title: 1995 (beat Indians)
The original Boston Braves made, and won, their first World Series in 1914. The Milwaukee Braves won the World Series five years after moving to Wisconsin. But when the team went to Atlanta? It didn't make the Fall Classic for 2 1/2 decades. The first World Series in Atlanta ended in a loss to the Twins after a seven-game thriller of a series, but Atlanta got its first championship four years later behind the big three of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

9. Cardinals: 23 seasons (1903-25)
First WS appearance/title: 1926 (beat Yankees)
The Cardinals have won a lot of World Series -- 11, the most of any National League team and second only to the Yankees in MLB. But it took them a little while to get to that first one. St. Louis took down the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig-led Yankees in seven games in 1926, with Rogers Hornsby anchoring the Cards' lineup and a 39-year-old Grover Cleveland Alexander winning Games 2 and 6 and saving Game 7 on zero days' rest.

10. Senators/Twins: 21 seasons (1903-23)
First WS appearance/title: 1924 (beat Giants)
This drought didn't really affect the Minnesota portion of franchise history -- the Twins made the World Series in their fifth year there (1965, although they didn't win one in Minnesota until 1987). But the franchise got its start in Washington, and it took the Senators a while to get to the World Series. They made the appearance count, beating the Giants in seven games to get the legendary Walter Johnson his only career ring. The Big Train got the win in relief in the winner-take-all Game 7, pitching four scoreless innings until Washington walked off in the 12th.

11. Yankees: 18 seasons (1903-20)
First WS appearance: 1921 (lost to Giants)
First WS title: 1923 (beat Giants)
The team with 27 championships went 18 seasons before appearing in its first World Series, and 20 seasons before it won its first title. The Yankees' ascent signaled a changing of the guard, as the Ruthian Bronx Bombers finally outslugged the dead-ball style Giants in their second World Series meeting and dragged baseball into the new live-ball era.

12. Indians: 17 seasons (1903-19)
First WS appearance/title: 1920 (beat Dodgers)
The 17 seasons it took the Indians to make and win their first World Series appearance don't look like very much at all compared to the title-less streak they're currently on -- Cleveland last won in 1948, a 71-year drought. The Tribe's first World Series was a win over the then-Brooklyn Robins, behind Hall of Famers Tris Speaker and Stan Coveleski, who won three of the games.

13. Reds: 16 seasons (1903-18)
First WS appearance/title: 1919 (beat White Sox)
The Reds' first World Series appearance, and title, is one of the most infamous in baseball history -- because of the other team. This was the Black Sox scandal, when the White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the series and eight of their players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, were banned from baseball.

14 (tie). Blue Jays: 15 seasons (1977-91)
First WS appearance/title: 1992 (beat Braves)
The Blue Jays' first World Series appearance was worth the wait. They won back-to-back titles in 1992 and '93, their first years playing in the Fall Classic. In the 1992 World Series against the Braves, Dave Winfield delivered the tiebreaking double in the 11th inning of Game 6. The next year, Joe Carter provided one of the most iconic moments in World Series history: his series-winning walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6 against the Phillies.

14 (tie). Padres: 15 seasons (1969-83)
First WS appearance: 1984 (lost to Tigers)
First WS title: TBD
The Padres haven't won a World Series yet, but they've won a pair of National League pennants. The first one came in 1984 -- Tony Gwynn's breakout season. The Hall of Famer, 24 at the time, hit .351 to win his first batting title and led the Majors with 213 hits. Gwynn hit .316 in the postseason, too.

Other teams with 10+ year droughts

• Nationals (Washington only): 14 seasons (2005-2018)
First WS appearance: 2019
First WS title: TBD

• Rockies: 14 seasons (1993-2006)
First WS appearance: 2007 (lost to Red Sox)
First WS title: TBD

• Dodgers: 13 seasons (1903-15)
First WS appearance: 1916 (lost to Red Sox)
First WS title: 1955 (beat Yankees)

• Pilots/Brewers: 13 seasons (1969-81)
First WS appearance: 1982 (lost to Cardinals)
First WS title: TBD

• Orioles (Baltimore only): 12 seasons (1954-65)
First WS appearance/title: 1966 (beat Dodgers)

• Phillies: 12 seasons (1903-14)
First WS appearance: 1915 (lost to Red Sox)
First WS title: 1980 (beat Royals)

• Royals: 11 seasons (1969-79)
First WS appearance: 1980 (lost to Phillies)
First WS title: 1985 (beat Cardinals)

• Braves: 11 seasons (1903-13)
First WS appearance/title: 1914 (beat A's)

• Rays: 10 seasons (1998-2007)
First WS appearance: 2008 (lost to Phillies)
First WS title: TBD