Friday, April 17, 2015

I Red The News Today Oh Boy

Pete, you scoundrel!
In 1960 a band from Liverpool England formed and called themselves The Beatles. By 1970 The Beatles were finished. The members went their separate ways playing music under various other names.
In an alternate history, by 1981 another group of lads from Liverpool decided to form a new band and called it The Beetles. They have been recording music for the last 33 years. That makes The Beetles the longest running rock band in history!
The Beetles est.1960.

Stay with me. This post is about something sacred and holy to Cincinnatians. A topic you won't see much of here.
It's not politics.
It's not religion.
this sign skips from 1869 to 1876
It's not even chili.
It's sports. Namely, the Cincinnati Reds.
Now it's no secret to my friends that I'm not a sports fanatic but I do like history and I like debunking historical myths. In other words, I like the truth.

I'm sure you've heard the Cincinnati Reds referred to as the oldest professional baseball team, "established in 1869". Some Cincinnati Reds shirts and merchandise say "est. 1869". A big sign at the stadium even states this. It just isn't true.
It is certainly a fact that the first professional baseball team was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. This was a baseball team from Cincinnati with "Reds" in the name, but this was a different team with a different genealogy. Let me explain how that happened...

you wear a t-shirt of lies!
The original 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings folded after a short run. The end.
In 1871 several players from that folded team moved to Boston and formed the Boston Red Stockings. There were several name changes in bean-town like my personal favorite, the 1893 Boston Beaneaters.
In 1913 they became the Boston Braves. This team then moved to Milwaukee in 1953 as the Braves and then moved once more to Atlanta in 1966 again as the Braves.
This is the modern Atlanta Braves, the oldest professional baseball team, est. 1871. Sorry.
I hear you screaming "Lies! Sacrilege! Heretic!".

There's more...

Cincinnati had no professional baseball team from 1871-1875. None. Zip.

There WAS a second Red Stockings team that formed in Cincinnati in 1876, but they folded in 1880. The end. Again.
A third Red Stockings team started in 1881.  This team dropped "Stockings" from the name when joining the National League in 1889. This is the same Cincinnati Reds franchise that exists today.

In the 1940s the idea began to appear that the Cincinnati Reds was the oldest team in professional baseball. I'm not sure of the reason behind this. Perhaps nostalgia or hometown pride. We did have that war going on. The point is, the notion did not exist prior to that time. It certainly didn't exist in 1883. Here is an excerpt from a Cincinnati Commercial Gazette article on 09/13/1883
"The Cincinnatis have played remarkable games during their career since 1882, but never did they accomplish such a feat as that of this game. Never was there such batting done in this city - in fact the slugging has not been equaled in this country in late years. From the time the first Red Stocking went to the bat up to the last one was extinguished (the NL Reds 1876-1880), it was a continuous larruping picnic"
(Larrupping means a "thrashing")
While the Reds Major League Baseball site does not make this claim directly, they do skimp on the timeline a bit much like Ohio Historical Marker #54-31 in front of the Great American Stadium . They both refer to the original Cincinnati Red Stockings as being the oldest team but omit the folding, subsequent franchise moves, and name changes. Keep in mind no one associated with the original 1869 Red Stockings had anything to do with the 1881 Red Stockings.
Here is another analogy for you. If Pete Rose lived at 1414 Main Street, Cincinnati OH sells his house and moves away to let's just say... Philadelphia, then another man moves into 1414 Main Street and changes his name to Pete Rose, is that the same Pete Rose? I don't think anyone would say it was. It's a different man with the same name living in the same house.
angry revisionist history Reds fans
Apparently, this topic gets debated from time to time so this is nothing new to the hardcore fan but to the casual rabid fan, this is religious doctrine.

1881! Someone got it right!
Need more proof?
Baseball folks are all about stats right? Take a look at the MLB Reds statistics page. Let's see, where is 1869.... Oh! They begin in 1882 for the 3rd Cincinnati Reds Stockings. Look at the Braves MLB site, their stats begin in...drum roll...1871. Yeah yeah, I know it says Boston Braves but almost all other online sources list them as the Boston Red Stockings for the years 1871-1875. Here is one source.
Atlanta Braves win by 11 years.

It's fair to say that Cincinnati's baseball tradition dates back to 1869. BUT the Cincinnati Reds franchise per the MLB stats began in 1881, 11 years after the Atlanta Braves and thus is not the oldest pro team.

Cincinnati Reds est. 1881

The next thing you know, I'll be telling you that the Wright Brothers from Ohio didn't fly the first airplane in 1903 but rather it was a German immigrant in Connecticut named Gustav Whitehead two years earlier. That's another topic for later.

Should I hire a bodyguard now? uh, play ball and good luck in 2015! Huzzah.

other sources: 
-the biggest Reds fan I've ever known: James L. Farmer Sr. of the Society for Cincinnati Sports Research
-Major League Baseball