There is a common myth, which I have heard a number of times in the past that the New York Yankees were the first professional baseball team to travel by air in 1946. As much as I detest discussing the Yankees’ numerous true achievements as a life long Boston Red Sox fan (who was born and raised next to New York’s JFK International Airport) … one achievement the New York Yankees cannot lay claim to is that of being the first baseball team to travel by air.
The first professional baseball team to travel by air was in fact the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds chartered an American Airlines DC-2 to travel to Chicago to face the Chicago Cubs on the 8th of June 1934.
Despite the Reds’ General Manager Larry MacPhail choosing to shave their travel time down to Chicago down, allowing players to rest before facing the Cubs … the Reds finished the 1934 season in dead last.
Yet another myth is that the New York Yankees were the first baseball team to purchase their own aircraft … also incorrect. The first baseball team to purchase their own airplane was the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers purchased their own Convair CV-440 on the 4th of January 1957. To reduce the cost of the aircraft to US$775,000 (US$$5,932,567 in 2012 dollars), the Dodgers purchased their aircraft as part of Eastern Airlines order for CV-440 aircraft.
So … what were the New York Yankees first to do in aviation?
In 1946 Larry MacPhail had moved from the Reds to the Yankees as the team’s general manager and the Yankees became the first team to travel regularly to games by air. MacPhail contracted a DC-4, nicknamed the Yankee Mainliner, for the 1946 season.