to what you may recall from learning sports history,
Abner Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball
in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. This myth,
which was popularized in the early 1900s, has
been debunked in the past 30 years.
ball and bat games were played in the United
States in the early 19th century, but none
closely resembled the modern game. The game
of baseball as we know it traces its founding
to 1845 when the first organized team in the
U.S., the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New
York City (led by Alexander Cartwright), set
down written rules. By 1858 the game had become
so popular that the National Association of
Base Ball Players was formed and significant
modifications began to be made in the old Knickerbocker
baseball came to Cincinnati in the 1860's.
The Buckeye Base Ball Club and the Red Stockings,
the namesake of the Cincinnati Baseball Club
and the current Cincinnati Reds professional
team, became the dominant teams in the city.
1869, as base ball became more popular and
competitive, the Red Stockings, under the leadership
of captain Harry Wright (who is enshrined in
the National Baseball Hall of Fame) decided
to put all of his players under contract, thus
creating the first all-professional team. The
Red Stockings recruited some of the top players
in the country, with only one member of the
team from Cincinnati. Under the direction of
Wright, the players underwent rigorous training
and practice, and developed many strategies
(such as the relay throw) that we take for
Red Stockings played teams from coast-to-coast,
and played well. With Wright's skillful management
and spectacular collection of talented players
(with Harry's brother, George Wright, the superstar
of the bunch), the Red Stockings went 57-0
to record the only undefeated season in baseball
history and drew an estimated 200,000 spectators.
The national attention they brought to themselves
and the sport of baseball proved that the American
public would support the professional game.
the financial strain on the local club was
so great that the Cincinnati Red Stockings
folded after the 1870 season. But enough other
clubs had joined the professional ranks to
form the first professional league, the National
Association, in 1871. The Cincinnati club never
joined this league, but the club did reorganize
in 1876 and joined the new National League.
The Reds have represented Cincinnati in professional
baseball ever since.*
The only exception is 1881, when the Reds
were thrown out of the National League for
selling beer at the ballpark and allowing
games to be played at their ballpark on Sundays.