Here is Part 1 of "In The Beginning":
The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings
The Red Stockings were the first fully professional baseball team. Prior to 1869, baseball was only played at an amateur level. I guess they can be considered "the father" of professional baseball as we know it. Today's Cincinnati Reds are direct descendants of the original Red Stockings.
The Red Stockings were managed by Harry Wright. Harry's brother George Wright was the team's best player and of course the team's highest paid player. George earned a whopping $1400 for the 1869 season.
Both Harry (inducted in 1953) and George (inducted in 1937) are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Between 1869-1870, the Red Stockings won a record 130 straight games, proving that if you pay people to work, they will excel at what they do.
But after the 1870 season, most members left the team and moved east to join a newly formed professional team, the Boston Red Stockings. And amazingly the team still exists today. No, not the Boston Red Sox, but the Atlanta Braves. More on that in a future post.
But the remnants of the Cincinnati team would find new players and rebuild. And this new Red Stockings team would become a charter member of the newly formed National League in 1876. Unfortunately, the team would get expelled from the National League in 1880 for breaking a strict league policy which banned the practice of serving beer to fans at games. Go figure!
The team would rebuild itself yet again in 1882 and become a charter member of the newly formed American Association. The 1882 version of the Cincinnati Red Stockings is the same Cincinnati Reds we have today-- the same team who is 22-16 and in first place in the National League Central division today. After all the bumps and bruises from 1869-1880, the team as played non-stop ever since.
The team played in the American Association from 1882-1889. They would rejoin the National League (who banned the first Red Stockings team in 1880 for selling brew to fans) in 1890.
In 1890, they changed their names from the Red Stockings to the Reds and thus began the journey of The Big Red Machine.
Very interesting stuff!
To be continued....
The above photos are part of the public domain
Historical facts courtesy of Wikipedia