The claim as to which professional sports franchise is oldest is under dispute between Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds, with the Braves likely having the strongest case. The strength of the Braves claim comes from the fact that they have been operating as a franchise for the most consecutive years without cease, beginning in 1871 when they were a member of the National Association of Base Ball Players.
The Braves began as the Boston Red Stockings before becoming the Boston Braves in 1876, when the National League was born. The franchise remained there until relocating to Milwaukee in 1953, and then to Atlanta in 1966. The Cubs, which began as the Chicago White Stockings, also began in 1871, but ceased operations in 1872 and 1873. The Cincinnati Red Stockings, although playing professionally in 1869 and 1870, were not members of the National Association, and did not resume league play until 1876 in the National League.