15 small towns in the US that used to be home to major professional sports teams

Sheboygan, Wisconsin was once home to the Sheboygan Redskins, a former team of the NBA.

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Sheboygan, Wisconsin was once home to the Sheboygan Redskins, a former team of the NBA.
source
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

  • The Hammond Pros of Hammond, Indiana were the first team to have an African-American head coach in the NFL.
  • La Rue, Ohio is the smallest town ever to be home to an NFL team.
  • The Troy Trojans played in MLB’s record game for lowest attendance ever. Only six people attended.
  • Waterloo, Iowa was home to the only major league sport to be based in Iowa.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Today, many major cities across the United States are home to franchise sports teams. The Green Bay Packers are the biggest exception to that, having a population of 104,879, but Green Bay wasn’t the only small city to be home to a professional team.

While the teams that used to call these places home are defunct or grew into larger teams in larger cities, they still played a role in the beginning of major pro sports leagues like the NFL, MLB, and NBA.

Below we take you through the smallest towns that were once home to professional teams.


Akron, Ohio – Akron Indians/Pros

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Akron, Ohio.
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Harold Stiver / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1920 to 1926

Record: 27-26-11

Championships: 1 – AFPA Champions in 1920

Population: 198,006

One thing to know: The Pros weren’t named AFPA Champions until April 30, 1921, because of complaints from the Buffalo All-Americans and the Decatur Staleys. The Pros held the best record in the league and only needed to avoid losing a game.

They held both teams scoreless to win the Championship, but due to the complaints, it was put to a vote by the managers. Akron was awarded the title.


Pottsville, Pennsylvania – Pottsville Maroons

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Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
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Jason Paris/Flickr/CC 2.0 Attribution

League: NFL

Time in league: 1925 to 1928

Record: 27-20-2

Championships: None

Population: 13,555

One thing to know: The Maroons held the best record in the league and earned the 1925 Championship title. However, after they played an unauthorized exhibition game in Philadelphia, they were suspended, stripped of their title, and removed from the NFL due to a violation of territorial rights.

Looking to take advantage, the Chicago Cardinals scheduled two additional games against weak teams to improve their record. Owner Chris O’Brien refused to accept the title, and it was not claimed until 1933 when the Cardinals were acquired by Charles Bidwill, whose descendants still own the team to this day.

As a result, it is believed that the Arizona Cardinals are under the “Pottsville Curse” since they have only won one further NFL title since.


Canton, Ohio – Canton Bulldogs

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Canton, Ohio.
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Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1920 to 1926

Record: 38-19-11

Championships: 2

Population: 70,458

One thing to know: The Bulldogs played 25 straight games without a defeat in 1921-23, which is still an NFL record.


Dayton, Ohio – Dayton Triangles

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Dayton, Ohio.
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David Harmantas / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1920 to 1929

Record: 18-51-8

Championships: None.

Population: 140,640

One thing to know: The Triangles were an original franchise in the American Professional Football Association. They were the longest-lasting traveling team and last “road team” until the Dallas Texans in 1952.


Duluth, Minnesota – Duluth Kelleys/Eskimos

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Duluth, Minnesota.
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Welcomia / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1923 to 1927

Record: 16-20-3

Championships: None

Population: 85,884

One thing to know: The Duluth Eskimos were one of the first teams in NFL history to use a logo.


Hammond, Indiana – Hammond Pros

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YouTube/Big Easy Video

League: NFL

Time in league: 1920 to 1926

Record: 7-28-4

Championships: None.

Population: 75,795

One thing to know: The Pros had six of the nine African-American players in the league during their years. They also had the first African-American head coach in the NFL, Fritz Pollard.


La Rue, Ohio – Oorang Indians

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La Rue is a village in Marion, Ohio.
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PdubsRandom / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1922 to 1923

Record: 4-16-0

Championships: None.

Population: 711

One thing to know: All of the Indians players were Native American and with a population under 1,000, La Rue remains the smallest town ever to be home to an NFL franchise.


Racine, Wisconsin – Racine Legion/Tornadoes

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Racine, Wisconsin.
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CDSPhotos / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1922 to 1926

Record: 15-15-6

Championships: None.

Population: 77,432

One thing to know: Milton “Mitt” Romney was a quarterback for the Racine Legion before joining the Chicago Bears. His cousin was George W. Romney, former Michigan Governor, and it was his nickname that gave 2012 US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney his name.


Rock Island, Illinois – Rock Island Independents

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Ryan Brohm / Shutterstock.com

League: NFL

Time in league: 1920 to 1925

Record: 26-14-12

Championships: None.

Population: 37,678

One thing to know: The Independents were one of the founding NFL franchises and hosted what is considered to be the first NFL game on September 26, 1920, at Douglas Park.


Altoona, Pennsylvania – Altoona Mountain Citys

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Horseshoe Curve, Altoona, Pennsylvania.
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Michael Shanafelt / Shutterstock.com

League: Pre-MLB

Time in league: 1884 to 1884

Record: 6-19

Championships: None.

Population: 43,702

One thing to know: The Mountain Citys were a charter member of the Union Association. The team folded after 25 games and by season’s end were known as the Altoona Unfortunates.


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Troy, New York.
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Drew Angerer / Getty Images

League: MLB

Time in league: 1879 to 1882

Record: 134-191

Championships: None.

Population: 49,374

One thing to know: The Trojans were removed from the MLB before the end of the 1882 season because they were seen as too small for the league, but continued to play out their season. On September 28, 1882, six fans attended a game between the Trojans and the Worcester NL team, which was also being removed from the league. That attendance figure is the lowest ever recorded at an MLB game.


Wilmington, Delaware – Wilmington Quicksteps

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Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

League: Pre-MLB

Time in league: 1884 to 1884

Record: 2-16

Championships: None.

Population: 70,635

One thing to know: The Quicksteps were a late-season replacement baseball team in the Union Association.


Anderson, Indiana – Anderson Packers

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Anderson, Indiana.
source
WIPB TV

League: NBL/NBA

Time in league: 1949 to 1950

Record: 37-27

Championships: None.

Population: 55,037

One thing to know: The Packers were founded and owned by Ike W. and John B. Duffey. The brothers were not only founders of the Anderson Packers, but also of meat packing company Duffey’s Incorporated. The team eventually folded with the end of the NBL after 1951.


Sheboygan, Wisconsin – Sheboygan Redskins

Sheboygan, Wisconsin was once home to the Sheboygan Redskins, a former team of the NBA.

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Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
source
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

League: NBA

Time in league: 1949-1950

Record: 22-40

Championships: None.

Population: 48,180

One thing to know: The Redskins were an NBA original franchise, but didn’t fare well when the NBA and NBL merged, causing them to leave the NBA after one season quickly.


Waterloo, Iowa – Waterloo Hawks

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YouTube/Steven Thomas

League: NBA

Time in league: 1949-1950

Record: 19-43

Championships: None.

Population: 67,798

One thing to know: The Hawks are the only sports franchise in the four major leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) to be based in Iowa.