Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cincinnati Red Stockings (Cincinnati Reds)

This post will focus on the Cincinnati Reds, and their history. I'll get to the main reason I chose the Reds a little later. However, despite my main reason, I do want to cover teams that go way back, that is to the nineteenth century, and the Reds would be one of those teams.

The Cincinnati Reds history goes back all the way 1869, although the current Reds incarnation goes back to 1882.

The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings are baseball's first professional club, as this was the first year the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) allowed professionalism. With professionalism allowed, Harry Wright - who was playing for the Cincinnati Base Ball Club - assembled a team, and put them under contract. On a side note, Harry Wright, now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is credited with backing up plays in the outfield (he played center field), shifting defensive alignments, and with the Red Stockings, helped develop many strategies including the relay throw.

The first Cincinnati Red Stockings fell apart in 1870. This is on account of a financial strain due in part to finally losing after winning 81 straight games (numbers vary as they toured the country playing amateur and professional teams alike. 81 is from 130 seems to be the total number.). The NABBP, was slowly falling apart as well, as teams were joining the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP, or NA for National Association). The NABBP slowly diminished in the years following.

Harry Wright and the best Cincinnati Red Stockings relocated to Boston, upon an invitation from Ivers Whitney Adams, forming the Boston Red Stockings professional base ball club, in the newly formed National Association (as mentioned above). Harry Wright obviously brought the nickname along with him. This is where the name Red Sox originally came from, that being another post.

The Cincinnati Red Stockings would come into existence again, this time in 1876 as a part of the newly formed National League (indeed, the first year of what we call half of MLB today). The National League formed from six clubs from the NA, and two independent teams. Cincinnati being one of the independent teams. They joined as a charter member.

The second incarnation of the Red Stockings lasted only 5 years, until 1880, when they were expelled due to refusing to stop renting out their ballpark on Sundays, along with ceasing to serve beer at games.

This brings us to the third and final Cincinnati Red Stockings, also the Cincinnati Reds of today.

The American Association formed in early November 1881 in Cincinnati, beginning play in 1882. It was a rival league to the National League. The AA was more lax towards patrons, allowing the sale of alcohol, along with having less expensive ticket prices, and playing games on Sunday. On another side note, it was nicknamed the "Beer and Whiskey League", in a pejorative manner by the National League.

The Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association from 1882 would re join the National League in 1890. During the switch from the American Association to the National League, they dropped the 'Stockings' from the name, and went with Reds.

The Reds however did briefly change their name. They were known as the Cincinnati Redlegs from 1953 until 1958. This was to avoid being associated with Communism in the McCarthy era.

So the main reason I wanted to cover Cincinnati was basically how I once noticed how the Chicago Bears 'C' is very close to the Reds 'C'. Probably coincidence, who knows, but they are only a few hours apart.

So the Cincinnati Reds, at the time, used the stylised 'C' I am referring to first. In its first form, it dates back to 1905, but was not until 1913 that it started to evolve closer to what it is today. Possibly very slightly modified, but the current Reds 'C' dates back to 1939. The Chicago Bears 'C' logo first appeared in 1962.

The Mr. Redlegs logo first appeared in 1954 by the looks of it, however it only appeared on their uniform in 1955 as a sleeve patch. In 1956 the Reds commenced using sleeveless jerseys, and the Mr. Redlegs logo was moved to the left breast of the road uniform, and that was the last of him on the uniforms until 1999 (1955 and 1956 uniforms pictured). I might add he was introduced during the time the team was officially called the Cincinnati Redlegs (see above), so more than likely, with his name in mind, was born to avoid the Reds being associated with Communism. Also, the Redlegs uniform removed the 'Reds' from inside the 'C' on their uniform for the 1956 season, the same year as Mr. Redlegs left the uniform. 'Cincinnati' was also removed from the road uniforms. Both the 'Reds' and Cincinnati returned for the 1961 season.

Top image:
"Red Stockings of Cincinnati, 1869. C. Hurley, Sub.; G. Wright, S.S.; Mcvey, R .F. ; Leonard, L. F.; Sweasy, 2nd B.; Waterman, 3rd B.; H. Wright, C. F.; Brainard, P.; Gould, 1st B.".
From the NYPL Digital Gallery. Located at

Philadelphia Phillies uniform from 1900. From the Uniform Database at the Dressed to the Nines online exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame website.

More Cincinnati Reds history

at MLB
at Baseball Almanac
at Baseball-Reference and
at Wikipedia.

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