The history of MLB franchises, including the San Diego Padres, is usually a straight line.
The Colorado Rockies were born in 1993 thanks to a Major League expansion. That’s it. Sure, there was baseball in Denver beforehand, but the Rockies don’t claim that history. As you descend into the minor leagues, however, an intricate web of franchise histories is drawn.
Minor league club histories weave into connected branches that connect franchises from throughout North America. Teams borrow names constantly and take the history of their host city with them as they move from place to place.
Teams technically move when they get demoted a level or outright disband and regroup into a new league (For example, MiLB disbanded the San Antonio Missions in 2020 and reformed as a new Texas League expansion team in 2021). These branches form a sort of family tree that I plotted across time, connecting franchise upon franchise.
For this initial exercise, I am choosing to honor my Colorado Rockies roots by analyzing the history of their premier Minor League Baseball team, the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The most direct way to follow a franchise’s history is to follow the places that the ownership group had moved the team in the past, like how the Washington Nationals were originally the Montreal Expos and share history.
So, for the Albuquerque Isotopes, who is the direct ancestor, and how does it relate to the San Diego Padres?
Direct Ancestor: Dallas Rangers & Ft. Worth Cats
That’s right, I started off with a tricky one. While traditionally, teams in this series will only have one direct ancestor team, the Albuquerque Isotopes actually have two thanks to the merger that happened in 1960.
The Dallas Rangers and Ft. Worth Cats started as Texas League charter teams (1902) until MiLB promoted both teams to the American Association in 1959. The teams merged in 1960 until the Ft. Worth Cats split off yet again from the Rangers in 1964. Part of the Dallas Rangers moved to Vancouver and the other part re-merged with the Cats to become the Dallas-Ft. Worth Spurs, who folded upon the arrival of the Texas Rangers in 1971.
Once the Dallas Rangers came to Vancouver, they took on the look and name of the previous MiLB team of the area, the Vancouver Mounties (they assumed their history). The Vancouver Mounties then moved to Salt Lake City for the 1970 season and assumed the previous Salt Lake City Bees title and history. Cannons became the franchise’s new name when they moved to Calgary in 1985. The Cannons finally moved into Albuquerque and took on the title of the “Isotopes” to honor a Season 12 episode of the Simpsons where Springfield lost their Minor League team to the city of Albuquerque.
As I alluded to during the previous paragraphs, teams often assume the history of the city they move to, even if the owners have nothing to do with the old team. While I don’t agree with this for simply “share a city” teams (such as the Albuquerque Dukes and the Albuquerque Isotopes), I see sharing the same name as an assumption of the team’s history and an outright call out to that history.
This is where the mixing of MiLB history gets interesting. There are arguments the same team spawned multiple teams.
This next section will be pretty straightforward and won’t have as long of explanations as the previous section.
Intertwined Histories: San Diego Padres, Eugene Emeralds, Round Rock Express, San Antonio Missions, Rocky Mountain Vibes, Dallas-Ft Worth Spurs (Folded)
Before we get started with the relationship trees, I just want to note that the Albuquerque Isotopes are arguably related to not one but two separate MLB franchises. You can see they are related to the original San Diego Padres, but they are also potentially related to the Texas Rangers. The Dallas-Ft. Worth Spurs arguably became the Texas Rangers rather than simply folding. The Texas Rangers did take the name of the direct ancestor of the Isotopes, the Dallas Rangers.
San Diego Padres (National League)
The Isotopes and the San Diego Padres descend from the 1925 iteration of the Hollywood Stars.
Eugene Emeralds (Northwest League)
The Isotopes and the Eugene Emeralds both descend from the 1925 iteration of the Hollywood Stars.
Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
The Isotopes and the Round Rock Express both descend from the 1925 iteration of the Hollywood Stars.
San Antonio Missions (Texas League)
The Isotopes and the San Antonio Missions both descend from the 1906 iteration of the Sacramento Senators.
Rocky Mountain Vibes (Pioneer League)
The Isotopes and the Rocky Mountain Vibes both descend from the 1906 iteration of the Sacramento Senators.
Dallas-Ft. Worth Spurs (Defunct) (Maybe the Texas Rangers)
The Isotopes and the Dallas-Ft. Worth Spurs both descend from the 1960 iteration of the Dallas Rangers.
Data for this article was found using Ancestry.com, BR Bullpen, Baseball Reference, and Wikipedia