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Are the Reds the same franchise as the 1869 Red Stockings?

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  • Are the Reds the same franchise as the 1869 Red Stockings?

    I've heard the Cincinnati Reds referred to as the oldest professional baseball team. Are they the same franchise as the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings?

  • #2
    I am not a historian, so I don't claim to have the answer, but with a quick check, it would appear that they are.

    Cincinatti Reds
    Cinicinatti Redlegs
    Cincinatti Redstockings

    All the same franchise...


    • #3
      No, they are not the same franchise. From wikipedia.

      The Original "Red Stockings"

      The original Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first openly all-professional team, were founded as an amateur club in 1863, and became fully professional in 1869. The Red Stockings won 130 straight games throughout 1869 and 1870, before being defeated by the Brooklyn Atlantics. Star players included brothers Harry and George Wright, Fred Waterman, and pitcher Asa Brainard. The 1869 Red Stockings made an eastern swing of 21 games and went undefeated. According to Walter Camp, the team received a banquet and a "champion bat...this rather remarkable testimonial was twenty-seven feet long and nine inches in diameter". The following year, the team lost only one game. They were defeated at the Brooklyn Atlantics' Capitoline Grounds. According to Camp, the Red Stockings lost 8-7 in 11 innings. The game apparently served as a precursor to today's unruly crowds because he wrote: "A crowd of ten thousand people assembled to witness this match, and so lost their heads in the excitement as to give the Western men a very unfair reception."

      The best players of the Cincinnati Red Stockings relocated to Boston after the 1870 season, taking the nickname along with them and becoming the Boston Red Stockings, a team later dubbed the "Beaneaters" and eventually the "Braves", who are now based in Atlanta.

      A new Cincinnati Red Stockings team became a charter member of the National League in 1876, five years after the first Red Stockings team. The second Red Stockings team was expelled from the league after the 1880 season, in part for violating league rules by serving beer to fans at games, and for their refusal to stop renting out their ballpark, the Bank Street Grounds, on Sundays.

      The American Association

      Following the expulsion, a third Cincinnati team of the same name became a founding member of the American Association, a rival league that began play in 1882. That team (which is the same franchise of today) played for eight seasons in the American Association and won the Association's inaugural pennant in 1882. The pennant winning club still holds the record for the highest winning percentage of any Reds club to date (.688). In November of 1889, the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Brooklyn Dodgers both left the Association for the National League. In the move, the Red Stockings dropped "Stockings" from their name.

      The National League, to stay

      Although some dispute whether the two teams are the same, according to The Baseball Encyclopedia the Cincinnati Red Stockings left the American Association in 1890 to play in the National League. One of the main reasons had absolutely nothing to do with the team directly--the upstart Player's League, an early, failed attempt to break the reserve clause in baseball. The league's impending presence severely weakened both previously existing leagues, and, because the National League decided to expand and the American Association was weakening, the team decided to accept the invitation to become members of the stronger National League. It was also at this time that the team first shortened their nickname from "Red Stockings" to "Reds". The Reds wandered through the 1890s signing local stars & aging veterans. During this time, the team never finished above third place (1897) and never closer than 10 1/2 games (1890).
      So the current Reds are actually the third professional baseball team to go by that name.
      Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 02-22-2008, 10:36 PM.
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


      • #4
        That team is in no way other than name and city related to the current Reds. Those Red Stockings purged the entire team of professionals on 11/22/1870:

        The current Braves date back to 1871 and the current Cubs a year or two later.


        • #5
          Some folks say that the Braves organization (first known, in Boston, as the Red Stockings) should be considered the de facto continuation of the 1869-70 Cincinnati RS because of the role that key Cincinnati players including the Wrights had in setting up in Boston.

          Keep in mind that in those days there was no concept of a "franchise" analogous to what we have known in the 20th century. The participation of key individuals probably would have been viewed as the most significant element of continuity from one season to the next, whether a relocation was involved or not.


          • #6
            Count me as one of those who think the Braves have a more legit tie back to the '69 Redstockings. Neither team has a direct line back, but the Wright brothers started both the Redstockings and Braves, not the Reds. I think it's accurate to call Cincinnati the 'birthplace of professional baseball', but the Reds calling themselves the first and/or oldest professional franchise has always annoyed me. It's all about marketing, say whatever sounds good, truth doesn't matter.


            • #7
              CIN and BOS
              Attached Files


              • #8
                Nice clippings. Since those articles focus on the "club officers" who remained in Cincinnati, they could be read (from a modern perspective) as suggesting that the "clubs" were like franchises and the officers like owners. Indeed, by the spring of '71, the trends that would create these concepts had begun. Still, the anticipated amateur-again Cincinnati club is termed the "new" Red Stockings--not the same entity as had played in '70, despite the continuity of some officers. And in fact, I'm not even sure that an amateur club took the field in '71 under the aegis of those officers. Some accounts simply say the club "disbanded."

                I found another article, focusing on players, which mentions "the 'Olympics' of Washington, and the new Boston club, these two clubs having divided up the 'Red-Stockings' nine between them. Cincinnati bets that Harry Wright's party will beat the Washington crowd..." This suggests that, while the Boston entity was also "new," even for fans (or should I say "cranks"?) in Cincinnati, the important matter was what Captain Harry and the boys were up to. Another item I read some time ago termed the Wrights in Boston as having "reconstituted" the famed Cincy group, but that probably just meant they brought a couple of the other guys in with them. (Now I'm wondering, who went to the Olympics? How did they do? Something to look up another time...)

                I guess my point is, the major hurdle for any of us understanding the structures of baseball in the early eras is that we're so deeply accustomed to what these things mean and how they work in our lifetime.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by spark240 View Post
                  I guess my point is, the major hurdle for any of us understanding the structures of baseball in the early eras is that we're so deeply accustomed to what these things mean and how they work in our lifetime.
                  This topic is actually a 19th century topic and could be better discussed there since some of those members don't frequent the History setion.

                  To your point I fully agree. The 1870 Red Stockings of Cincinnati were in no way a franchise in any sense of the modern form. It was not relocatable. All "owners" were local and would not consider relocating. That concept was years away.

                  Harry Wright did not form the Red Stockings of Cincinnati that existed during the NABBP and he wasn't there when that association ended either. In essence, he was hired help.

                  It is erroneous to believe that club administration during the period of the NABBP resembles the organizational setup that would soon thereafter take place.

                  Talent can move (even in packs - which they tended to do during the 19th century) to and fro but that doesn't mean that a club up and relocated and had ties to another community.

                  Even if it was a modern franchise it still wouldn't mean much -- in 1892 the Pacific Northwest Lg folded and many players from Tacoma went to Missoula (Montana) of the Montana State Lg and played. Does that mean Tacoma = Missoula? Not in the least.
                  Last edited by Brian McKenna; 02-24-2008, 07:34 AM.


                  • #10
                    If the game had remained amateur, and a group of nine players had relocated to a different city, we would have no difficulty seeing the continuity there. The Red Stockings were only two years removed from amateurism at that point.

                    Owing to the amateur roots of the game, and hewing to the inescapable fact that, to modify Shakespeare, "the player's the thing" I think we should give great weight to player moves in the historical assessment of team continuity (notice I did not say "franchise continuity".)

                    The reverse is also true, that where a franchise "shifts" but no players go with it, it really is not much of a franchise shift. This is clearly accepted with the Worcester Ruby Legs/Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies) situation where the latter was just a replacement "berth" for the former, with no other connection, player-wise or owner-wise.

                    Which is why I always had problems with seeing the A.A. St. Louis Browns as the same team as the N.L. Browns of '92. They changed leagues and changed players completely. The only constant was Chris Von der Ahe and of course the name "Browns". The Cardinals organization of today does not count the A.A. Browns as part of its history and sells t-shirts at the ballpark which say "St. Louis Cardinals, est. 1892".

                    The other big factor I think should be league, which in the 19th century could mean a wildly different set of rules and style of play.


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