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Ask Uncle John Anything: Super-Duper Championship Edition

November 20, 2015

Uncle John knows pretty much everything—and if he doesn’t, he heads his massive research library, or puts one of his many associates on the case. So go ahead: In the comments below, ask Uncle John anything. (And if we answer your question sometime, we’ll send you a free book!) 

Has a city ever won a championship in all four major team sports in the same calendar year?

NBA NFL NHL MLB

The short answer: No. They haven’t.

And while there are at least 30 teams in each of the NHL, NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball, there are only 12 metropolitan areas that field a team in all four sports, so it’s a hard achievement to crack. (The largest of these cities is New York City; the smallest is Denver.)

However, there are two times in history in which a city won championships in three out of the four major sports.

  • In 1935, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in hockey, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series in baseball, and the Detroit Lions were the NFL champions. (This is before the NFL and AFL merged, and became the NFC and AFC, respectively, and the champions of each played each other in the Super Bowl.) There was no NBA team in Detroit yet…because there was no NBA yet. The league wasn’t established until the 1940s, and the Pistons moved from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Detroit in 1957.
  • Thirty-five years later, the same sports improbability took place in New York…where there are many more chances for it to happen, theoretically, because there are so many professional sports teams in New York. There have almost always been at least two pro baseball teams in New York, as well as two each in basketball, football, and hockey. (More if you count suburban New Jersey as part of the New York metropolitan area.) But in the 1969-1970 sports season, there was a lot to celebrate in the Big Apple: The New York Mets won its first World Series, the New York Knicks won its first of two NBA championships, and the New York Jets won the Super Bowl. As for the fourth sport, hockey, New York had just one team at the time, the New York Rangers, which were eliminated in the first round of the 1970 playoffs.
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