Even before the National League was formed in 1876, the Cincinnati Red Stocking had been in existence for seven seasons and holds the title of Baseball’s first team of professionals. In their inaugural season, 1869, the Red Stockings were a perfect 57-0. Their perfect streak would roll through the following season and come to an end at 81 games. When the National League was formed, the Red Stockings became a charter member of the organization but were kicked out four seasons later for refusing to rent out their ballpark and for selling beer during their games. The following season, the American Association was formed and the Red Stockings became charter members of that organization and would remain there for eight seasons.
The franchise was readmitted into the league in November of 1889 and joined Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. At this time, a new owner, John T. Brush, had come onboard and the 1891 season opened with a parade carrying the team through the streets. The decade would unfold and the Red Stockings would not finish any better than 3rd place in the league. It was this time that the franchise shortened their name to the Reds.
At the turn of century, the franchise began picking up as the team signed such stars as Sam Crawford and Cy Seymour who would win the batting crown in 1905 with a .377 average. Another record was set in 1911 when Outfielder Bob Bescher stole 81 bases, a record that stands to this day.
Before the beginning of the 1912 season, the team changed fields to Redland Field which would later be known as Crosley Field and in 1918, the team signed new manager Pat Moran. Moran would lead the franchise to the NL Pennant in 1919 and were led by Ed Roush, Heinie Groh, Hod Eller and Harry Sallee. The team eventually won the World Championship over the Chicago White Sox. This series would become known as the Black Sox Scandal as most of the White Sox team was accused of throwing the series out of dislike for team owner Charles Comiskey. The scandal involved a professional gambler (Joseph Sullivan), a New York gangster (Arnold Rothstein) and a former boxing champion (Abe Attell).
By the end of the 1930, the team found themselves bankrupt due in part to the Great Depression. As a result, Crosley Field was left to ruin. It wasn’t until 1933 that the team was led out of bankruptcy by Electronics magnate Powel Crosley Jr and his brother Lewis who founded and ran the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation and WLW Radio which carried the Reds games. The team came around and by 1939 won the National League Championship. They met and were swept out of World Championship by the New York Yankees. The team repeated as NL Champions the following season only this time won the World Championship by beating the Detroit Tigers in 7 games.
World War II came around the Reds found themselves without any seasoned veterans on the team. The 1944 team was led by 15-year old Joe Nuxhall who was on loan from an Ohio Junior High School. He was and still is the youngest player to ever play professional base ball. The team was forced to change their name from Reds to the Redlegs due to “Second Red Scare,” a political panic led by the onset of Communism.
The name of the team changed back to the Reds in 1961 and they were led by Rookie of the Year Frank Robinson who slammed 221 home runs, tying a NL record. Other notable players on that squad were Vada Pinson, Wally Post, Gene Freese, Gordy Coleman, Jim O’Toole, Bob Purkey and Joey Jay. That team captured the ’61 NL Pennant. It would not be until 1975 that the team would again compete for a World Series title.
George “Sparky” Anderson joined the Reds as their manager in 1970 and the team moved into a new stadium, Riverfront Stadium in June of 1970. Throughout the decade the Reds would be known as The Big Red Machine and fielded such stars as Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Lee May and Bobby Tolan. They also had a solid pitching staff led by Tony Cloninger, Clay Carrol, gary Nolan and Jim Merritt among others. The 1970 team would win 70 of their first 100 games, winning the NL West and capturing the National League Title. In the World Series, the Reds were met by the Baltimore Orioles who dispatched them in five games. The team failed to make the playoffs in ’71 but won the NL West title in a strike shortened season. They then faced the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, losing to them in 7-games.
The Reds would repeate as NL Champions in ’72, ’73, ’75, ’76, and ’79 and repeated as World Champions in ’75 & ’76. It would be fourteen years later that the team would win another Division title and World Series.
The 1990 Reds team, under the management of Lou Piniella, won the NLCS over the Pittsburgh Pirates. This strong team was led by Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Eric Davis and Paul O’Neill and their trio of top pitchers, Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers (collectively known as the “Nasty Boys”) swept the Oakland A’s to take the World Series.
MLB created a new National League Central Division in 1993 and the Reds, along with the Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and Astros, composed the division. That same season, Manager Piniella was replaced by Tony Perez who lasted only 44 games. Former 2nd baseman Davey Johnson replaced Perez and beat the Dodgers in the NLDS but lost to the Braves in the NLCS.
The team moved into the brand new Great American Ball Park in 2003 and sported a team with Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Larkin and Sean Casey. In 2006, the Reds had the honor of becoming the first team to have a sitting president (G.W. Bush) throw out the ceremonial first pitch. That same season, team ownership changed hands as Robert Castellini took over controlling ownership of the club. The team went through a number of managers, Jerry Narron, Pete Mackanin and Dusty Baker who currently holds on to that title.
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