Every baseball team longs to put together a winning streak, but in a way, isn’t the longest MLB losing streak equally impressive?
It’s not that teams are trying to lose games, but even bad teams win a game every few days just out of the pure crazy and random nature of baseball. That is a big part of what makes the worst losing streaks in MLB history so fascinating.
Longest MLB losing streak
While most folks would rather focus on the longest winning streaks in MLB history, we wanted to give a little recognition to the longest losing streaks. We’re not trying to rub it in, especially since we had to go deep in the history books to find the longest baseball losing run and some of the other epic losing streaks in baseball history.
Admittedly, the longest MLB losing streak is a little sad to think about, but let’s learn more about the 10 longest losing streaks MLB has ever seen.
T7. Philadelphia Athletics, 20 (1916 and 1943)
There are five teams that have had a losing streak end at 20 games with the Philadelphia Athletics being responsible for two of them. Perhaps surprisingly, it was legendary manager Connie Mack who was at the helm for both of these epic losing streaks. Of course, he managed the team for 50 seasons, so he deserves some slack.
The 1916 losing streak lasted from July 21 to August 9, helping them finish the year 36-117, in part because they never won more than two consecutive games. The losing streak in 1943 happened a little later in the season, lasting from August 7 to August 24.
The Athletics were able to win the second game of a doubleheader to break the streak before losing four in a row immediately after that. If not for that win in the second half of a doubleheader, the Athletics could have put together the longest MLB losing streak ever seen.
T7. Montreal Expos, 20 (1969)
It’s probably worth cutting the Expos a little bit of slack since this was the first season in franchise history. But nobody said life in the big leagues was going to be easy, and Montreal had to learn that the hard way when the Expos failed to win a game between May 13 and June 8.
Needless to say, they finished their inaugural season last in the NL East with a 52-110 record, as there was no recovery from that 20-game losing streak.
T7. Boston Americans, 20 (1906)
Before they were the Red Sox, they were the Boston Americans, and from May 1 to May 25 in 1906, they didn’t win a single game.
Naturally, it was the Yankees who handed them the first of their 20 straight losses. Since the losing streak came so early in the season, by the time it was over, they were 20 games under .500 and the season was all but over. Boston would end up finishing that season 49-105.
T7. Louisville Colonels, 20 (1894)
This won’t be the last time we see the Colonels, a defunct franchise that technically played in the American Association, not MLB.
Nevertheless, they went from May 28 to June 19 during the 1894 season without winning a game. They eventually finished the season 36-94, which is part of the reason why history has largely forgotten this losing franchise.
6. Baltimore Orioles, 21 (1988)
The Orioles are the proud owners of the most recent losing streak on our list. It’s not so much that Baltimore lost 21 in a row but what stands out about this streak is that it happened at the start of the season.
The Orioles lost 12-0 on opening day, which was April 4, and didn’t win a game for the first time that season until April 29. For what it’s worth, they were a somewhat respectable 54-86 during the rest of the season, losing 107 games in 1988. But considering how the year started, it could have easily been much worse.
5. Philadelphia Athletics, 22 (1890)
This is undoubtedly one of the strangest losing streaks in baseball history. The Athletics were in dire straights financially during the season, ultimately forcing them to fold up the season and end the franchise before the season ended.
At the time their season folded, the Athletics had lost 22 straight games, a streak that started on September 16. There’s no telling how much longer the streak could have lasted if the club had continued to play games, as the Athletics were outscored 43-7 during a three-game series in what would be the final games they would play. In a way, the collapse of the franchise was merciful, as it prevented the franchise from likely having the longest MLB losing streak.
T3. Philadelphia Phillies, 23 (1961)
The Phillies quickly went from bad to worse during the second half of the 1961 season, and that’s for a team that was in the middle of a quarter-century-long playoff drought. At the time that Philadelphia’s 23-game losing streak began on July 29, they were 19 games off the pace in the National League. It took a doubleheader with the Milwaukee Braves on August 20 for the Phillies to break out of their funk.
At that time, the Phils had fallen 42 games out of first place, setting themselves up to finish with a pitiful 47-107 record.
T3. Pittsburgh Alleghenys, 23 (1890)
The year before changing their name to the Pirates, the Alleghenys (named after the river) found themselves on the losing end of 23 straight games.
The losses came late in the season between August 12 and September. It was part of a season that ended with a record of 23-113. It was a low point for a franchise that has experienced plenty of low points in its history.
2. Cleveland Spiders, 24 (1899)
Fittingly, the 1899 season was the final season in Cleveland Spiders history with a new Cleveland franchise that we now call the Guardians starting play in 1901. Of course, we should mention that there is a good reason why the Spiders lost 24 straight games.
The team owners also bought the St. Louis franchise (called the Perfectos that year before becoming the Cardinals in 1900) in 1899, allowing them to send Cleveland’s best players to St. Louis.
The Spiders were particularly bad down the stretch, going winless from August 26 to September 18 during that 24-game losing streak. It resulted in the Spiders finishing 20-134, which remains the worst single-season record in MLB history, which is a record that will likely never be broken.
1. Louisville Colonels, 26 (1889)
We have to go all the back to 1889 to find the longest MLB losing streak ever.
As you know, this isn’t the only time the Colonels appear on this list. Not surprisingly, the Louisville Colonels didn’t exist after 1899. If you want to get technical, Louisville was part of the American Association when they lost 26 games in a row in 1889, which was two years before the league folded and they joined the National League.
But those technicalities aside, we still have to mention this as the longest MLB losing streak of all time since the Colonels would eventually be an MLB franchise. Those 26 losses are also two games longer than the next closest losing streak. They went from May 22 to June 23 without a win, eventually finishing the 1889 season 27-111, so it wasn’t a great year in Louisville.