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When Lightning Strikes a City Twice in One Year

When a professional sports team wins a league championship for their respective city, almost always it sends citizens of that town into a frenzy. However, when a city has two teams that win titles in the same season, then they can start boasting that they have the best sports town in the country.

My hometown of Pittsburgh had this opportunity when both the Pirates and Steelers won their respective league titles in 1979 and thus took on the moniker “City of Champions.” That was 1979 and since that time, there have been eight more years where a city claimed dual champions. Throughout history this feat has been pulled off 18 times. Obviously, this does not occur that often.

As for what city has won multiple titles the most times, that would be New York City having hosted more than one championship team in the same year seven times. Los Angeles is next with three years doing the deed. Boston and Detroit have done it twice. Rounding out the 18 times is Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa all having accomplished this rare feat once. With the NFL, NBA, and the NHL, their seasons begin in one calendar year and end in another so some of the championships took place in different years but the same calendar season. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers are examples of this as the Bucs won the World Series in 1979 but for the Steelers it was their 1979 season. However, the Super Bowl they won, which was Super Bowl XIV, came in 1980. They get credit for same season dual victories though since they were both resulting from the same 1979 season.

Cities that have won multiple championships from two different teams over in the same calendar year number 18. New York’s “Murderer’s Row” the 1927 Yankees were one of two teams in the same city to have multiple championship teams winning titles in the same year. The other New York team was the football playing Giants. The Big Apple was at it again the following year when the Yankees repeated as World Series champs but on the ice, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1927.

Once again in 1933, New York City was entertaining yet another pair of champions when the Rangers brought home the Stanley Cup again while the New York Giants playing in the Polo Grounds won the World Series. The city of Detroit finally broke New York’s three-year streak when the Lions won the NFL title in 1935 and the Red Wings became Stanley Cup champions. With New York City having accomplished this feat the most times in history, they pulled it off again in 1938 (NFL Giants/Yankees), 1956 (NFL Giants/Yankees), 1969 (Jets/Mets), and 2000 when the New Jersey Devils (they get credit for New York given their proximity to the city) and the Yankees won the World Series yet another time.

Aside from New York, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, Cleveland had dual winners in 1948 when the Browns won the All-American Football Conference title while also hosting the World Series champion Cleveland Indians. Pittsburgh took its turn in 1979 and then Los Angeles got into the mix for the first time in 1988 as the Dodgers and the Lakers took their respective league titles. Dual championships stayed in California one year later when San Francisco had the 49ers winning the Super Bowl while nearby Oakland saw the A’s winning a title.

The city of Boston sported its only double championships in 2004 with the New England Patriots winning an NFL title while the Red Sox won that elusive World Series something they hadn’t done to that date in 86 years. The city of Pittsburgh had its second entry into this category in 2009 with the Penguins and Steelers both winning a world title. The last city to call itself dual champs was Tampa, Florida when three years ago the Buccaneers with Tom Brady barking signals served as one half of Tampa’s duo and the lightning winning the Stanley Cup on ice.

Thus far only the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA have been discussed. But there are other professional sports not mentioned yet. We have soccer leagues, the Canadian Football League, Arena Football, and at one time there was a professional tennis league with teams. With that said, the city of Toronto in Canada may have had the greatest year for sports among any other city anywhere.

The year was 2017 and the Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, The Toronto Football Club in Major League Soccer, the Wolfpack in a professional Rugby league, and the Raptors in the NBA’s D-League all won their respective league championships. That’s four titles in one city in one year. Not to be outdone, back in the states, Los Angeles gave the world pro titles in 2002 with the WNBA’s Sparks, the Lakers in the NBA, in baseball the Angels, and the Galaxy of Major League Soccer all winning a league title.

My city scored a double title in 1975 with the Steelers taking the Super Bowl and the Pittsburgh Triangles winning the World Team Tennis championship. In 1988, Chicago crowned the Fire as champions in the MLS, the Bulls in the NBA, and the Wolves of the International Hockey League. Even small market Kansas City got in on the fun when in 2015 FC Kansas City took the National Women’s Soccer League title but was joined by The Royals of baseball, and Sporting Kansas City bringing home the U.S. Open Cup of Major League Soccer. It was a big year in sports that year because San Francisco saw the Sabercats of the Arena Football League win that championship but also the Golden State Warriors won the NBA title while the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League were also crowned champions.

The city of Tampa is the only other city to have three champions in pro sports in the same year. That came in 2020 with the Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl, the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, and the Rowdies of the United Soccer League brought home championship hardware. Cities that have more than one championship team in different sports in the same year are as follows:

  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex (twice)
  • Denver (twice)
  • Detroit
  • Edmonton
  • Greater Houston
  • Greater Los Angeles (five times)
  • Greater New York (twice)
  • Greater St. Louis
  • Greater Toronto Area
  • Kansas City metropolitan area (twice)
  • Las Vegas
  • Montreal (twice)
  • Orange County
  • California
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Seattle
  • Tampa (twice)
  • Toronto (twice)
  • Washington (twice)

Can lightning strike again for some city in the United States or Canada? That remains to be seen. Parity is running rampant in professional sports these days and perhaps only the Kansas City Chiefs resemble any sort of dynasty now. But if you happen to live or have lived in one of these aforementioned cities when they won more than one professional title, it surely brought some pride to be from your town.


About the author

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson was born and raised in Pittsburgh but now lives in Florida with his beautiful wife Melissa.

Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, Yinzer Crazy website, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.

Harv loves all sports but football and baseball are at the top of his interest. His passion is for sports history. You can visit Harv's website at and you can reach him at [email protected]

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