Week 2 of our baseball promotion focuses on the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. Throughout the week we will feature stories on the Reds history, their players and a few other things that we think you might find interesting. Today, we take a look at the origins of the Reds and the game of baseball.
In the middle part of the 1800’s, baseball was becoming the country’s most popular recreational activity. Soldiers in the Civil War palyed and brought the game home with them after the war. There were amateur teams all around the country, with the biggest being the Cincinnati Baseball Club. Harry Wright was a member of the Cincinnati club and was a catalyst in making the team the first professional club. They built their own stadium, advertised their games and sold tickets for twenty five cents.
In 1896, with success at home, the Red Stockings decided that it was time to take the show on the road. They traveled the country by rail and stagecoach, playing amateur teams in cities throughout the U.S. The tour was working as crowds of thousands began to show up to get a look at the first all professional sports team. The Red Stockings were dominating their opponents with scores of 103 – 8 and 94 – 7. They didn’t drop a game, finishing 52 – 0, the only time that’s happened in the history of the game.
The Red Stockings lost their first game in mid 1870 to the New York Atlantics and they proceeded to lose a few more. By this time, team President Aaron Champion was tired of traveling the country for no salary and decided at the end of the season to return to a career in law. Boston native Harry Wright opted to start a team in his hometown and the rest of the Red Stockings headed east with him. There was no baseball in Cincinnati for six years.
In 1876 the Red Stockings joined what was then called the National League, the first major league. The league consisted of teams in Chicago, Louisville, St. Louis, New York, Hartford, Boston and Philadelphia. Unfortunately the Red Stockings got off to a slow start, finishing their debut season with a 9 – 56 record.
The team continued to struggle through the early years but there was one thing that kept the fans happy. Beer. There were several breweries in the Queen City and they sold lots of beer to the stadium, even though the league did not approve of or encourage beer sales. In 1880 the club moved to a new stadium called the Bank Street Grounds in downtown Cincinnati. The league ordered them to stop selling beer but owner Josiah Koeck continued to ignore their mandates. The league finally had enough and kicked the Red Stockings out of the league.
Cincinnati was once again without baseball.
We love the look of these old Red Stockings jerseys and have made them before but we haven’t made them in awhile. Should we bring them back?
(George Wirght, one of the stars
of the Red Stockings - shortstop,
Baseball Hall of Fame 1937)