The original Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first openly all-professional team, were founded in 1867, turning professional in 1869. The Red Stockings won 89 games in a row between 1869 & 1870, before the Brooklyn Atlantics defeated the Red Stockings. Early stars for the Red Stockings included the Wrights, George and Harry. (In 1871, Harry Wright took most of his best players to Boston, and founded the Boston Red Stockings, now known as the Atlanta Braves.) The Red Stockings disbanded after the 1870 season, but reconstituted to become a charter member of the National League in 1876. The team was expelled from the league after the 1880 season, in part for violating league rules by serving beer to fans at games.
Following the expulsion, Cincinnati became a founding member of the American Association, a rival league that began play in 1882, and retained the nickname Red Stockings. By some accounts, the AA team switched leagues in 1890; by other accounts, the AA team folded the same year the new NL team started, and the new team simply signed many of the AA team's star players. The Red Stockings wandered through the remainder of the 1890s signing local stars & aging veterans.
At the turn of the century, the Reds (shortened from the Red Stockings so not to be confused with the Boston AL entry, now shortened to Red Sox) had hitting stars like Sam Crawford and Cy Seymour. Seymour's .377 average in 1905 was the first individual batting crown won by a Red. In 1911, Bob Bescher stole 81 bases which is still a team record.
Redland Field to the Great Depression
In 1912 Redland Field, built on the corner of Findlay and Western on the city's west side opened for the Reds. By the late 1910s the Reds began to come out of the second division. The 1918 team finished 4th, and then new manager Pat Moran led the Reds to a NL pennant in 1919. The 1919 team had hitting stars led by Edd Roush and Heinie Groh while the pitching staff was led by Hod Eller and Harry "Slim" Sallee, a lefthander. The Reds finished ahead of John McGraw's New York Giants, and then won the world championship in 8 games over the Chicago White Sox.
By 1920, the "Black Sox" scandal put an asterisk by the Reds first championship. In the remainder of the 1920s and early 1930s the Reds were second division dwellers for most of those years. Eppa Rixey, Dolf Luque and Pete Donohue were pitching stars; the offense never quite lived up to the pitching. By 1931 the team was bankrupt, thanks to the Great Depression, and Redland Field was in a state of disrepair.
Revival of 1930s
Powel Crosley Jr., an electronics magnate who with his brother Lewis M. Crosley produced radios, refrigerators and other household items, bought the Reds out of bankruptcy in 1933 and hired Larry McPhail to be the General Manager. Powell Crosley Jr. had also started WLW radio and the Crosley Broadcasting Company in Cincinnati and was doing quite well as a civic leader. McPhail began to develop the Reds' minor league system and expanded the Reds' base. The Reds throughout the 1930s became a team of "firsts". Crosley Field (formerly Redland Field) became the host of the first night game in 1935. Johnny Vander Meer became the only pitcher in major league history to throw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938. Thanks to Vander Meer, Paul Derringer, and shortstop-turned-pitcher Bucky Walters, the Reds had a solid pitching staff. The offense came around in the late 1930s. Ernie Lombardi was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1938, First baseman Frank McCormick was the 1940 NL MVP. Other position players included Harry Craft, Lonny Frey, Ival Goodman and Lew Riggs. By 1938 the Reds, now led by manager Bill McKechnie, were out of the second division finishing fourth. By 1939 they were National League champions. The Reds were swept by the New York Yankees in four straight. In 1940, they repeated as NL Champions and for the first time in 21 years, the Reds captured a World Series beating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to 3.
From WWII through the 1960s
World War II and age finally caught up with the Reds. Throughout the remainder of the 1940s and the early 1950s, Cincinnati finished mostly in the second division. In 1944, Joe Nuxhall, age 15, pitching for the Reds on loan from Hamilton High School, became the youngest person ever to play in a major league game -- a record that still stands today. Ewell "The Whip" Blackwell was the main pitching stalwart before arm problems cut short his career. Ted Kluszewski was the NL home run leader in 1954. The rest of the offense was a collection of over-the-hill players and not-ready-for-prime time youngsters.
In 1956, led by NL Rookie of the Year Frank Robinson, the Reds hit 221 HR to tie the NL record. By 1961, Robinson was joined by Vada Pinson, Wally Post, Gordy Coleman and Gene Freese. Pitchers Joey Jay, Jim O'Toole and Bob Purkey led the staff. The Reds captured the 1961 NL pennant, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, only to be defeated by the perennially powerful New York Yankees in the World Series. The Reds had many successful teams during the rest of the 1960s, but didn't produce any championships. They won 98 games in 1962 (paced by Purkey's 23), but finished 3rd. In 1964, they lost the pennant by one game. The farm system produced players such as Jim Maloney (the Reds pitching ace of the 1960s), Pete Rose, Tony Pérez, Johnny Bench and Gary Nolan, and the team finally reached its potential during the 1970s. The Reds' final game at Crosley Field, home to over 4500 baseball games, was played on June 24 1970. In its place, a new stadium, and a new Reds dynasty.
The Big Red Machine
In 1970, little known George "Sparky" Anderson was hired as manager, and the Reds embarked upon a decade of excellence, with a team that came to be known as "The Big Red Machine". Playing in brand-new Riverfront Stadium, a 52,000 seat multi-purpose venue on the shores of the Ohio River, the Reds began the 1970s with a bang by winning 70 of their first 100 games. Johnny Bench, Tony Pérez, Pete Rose, Lee May and Bobby Tolan were the early Red Machine offensive leaders; Gary Nolan, Jim Merritt and Jim McGlothlin led a pitching staff which also contained veteran Tony Cloninger and youngsters Wayne Simpson and Don Gullett. The Reds breezed through the 1970 season, won the NL West and captured the NL pennant. By time the club got to the World Series, however, the Reds pitching staff had run out of gas and the veteran Baltimore Orioles beat the Reds in five games.
After the disastrous 1971 season (the only season of the '70s during which the Reds finished with a losing record) the Reds reloaded by trading veterans May and Tommy Helms for Joe Morgan, César Gerónimo, Jack Billingham and Denis Menke. Meanwhile, Dave Concepción blossomed at shortstop.
The 1972 Reds won the NL West and defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in an exciting five-game playoff series, then faced the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. Six of the seven games were won by one run, but Oakland won in Game 7. The Reds won a third NL West crown in 1973 but lost the NL pennant to the New York Mets. The Reds won 98 games in 1974 but finished in second place.
In the 1975 season, Cincinnati clinched the NL West with 108 victories. Then swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in three games to win the NL pennant. In the World Series, the Boston Red Sox were the opponents. After splitting the first four games, the Reds took Game 5. Game 6 is still one of the most memorable baseball games ever played. The Reds were ahead 6-3 with 5 outs left, when the Red Sox tied the game on former Red Bernie Carbo's three-run home run. After a few close-calls either way, Carlton Fisk hit a home run off the foul pole in left field to give the Red Sox a 7-6 win and force a deciding Game 7. Cincinnati prevailed the next day, however, when Morgan's RBI single won Game 7 and gave the Reds their first championship in 35 years.
In 1976, the Reds swept throughout the NL West and proceeded to go undefeated in the postseason. They swept the Philadelphia Phillies (winning Game 3 in their final at-bat) to return to the World Series, then continued to dominate by sweeping the Yankees, who never really challenged the powerhouse Reds. In winning the Series, the Reds became the first NL team in over 50 years to win back-to-back World Series championships.
The last four years of the '70s brought turmoil and change. By 1979, manager Anderson and players Gullett, Nolan, Pérez and Rose, between others, had left the club. The Reds did manage to win the 1979 NL West behind the pitching of Tom Seaver.
In 1981, Cincinnati had the best overall record in baseball, but after a mid-season players' strike, they finished second in the division in both of the half-seasons that were created. To commemorate this, a team photo was taken, accompanied by a banner that read "Baseball's Best Record 1981." By 1982, the Reds were a shell of the original Red Machine; they lost 100 games that year. Johnny Bench retired ia year later.
The 1980s and onwards
In 1984 the Reds began to move up, depending on trades and some minor leaguers. In that season Dave Parker Dave Concepción and Tony Pérez were in Cincinnati uniforms. By the end of 1984, Pete Rose was hired to be the Reds player-manager. From 1985-89 the Reds finished second four times. Among the highlights, Rose became the all-time hits leader, Tom Browning threw a perfect game, and Chris Sabo was the 1988 National League Rookie of the Year. In 1989, Rose was banned from baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti, who declared Rose guilty of "conduct detrimental to baseball." Controversy also swirled around Reds owner Marge Schott, who was accused several times of ethnic and racial slurs.
In 1990 the Reds under new manager Lou Piniella shocked baseball by leading the NL West from wire-to-wire. They started off 35-12 and maintained their lead throughout the year. Led by Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Paul O'Neill and Billy Hatcher in the field, and by José Rijo, Tom Browning and the "Nasty Boys" of Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers on the mound, the Reds took out the Pirates in the NLCS and swept the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in four straight.
By 1995 the Reds were in the NLCS again, but lost to the Atlanta Braves. In 1999 they won 96 games, but lost to the New York Mets in a one game playoff. Riverfront Stadium was demolished in 2002 and ended an era marked by three world championships.
The Great American Ball Park opened in 2003 with high expectations for a team led by local favorites, including franchise outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., shortstop Barry Larkin, reliever Danny Graves and first baseman Sean Casey. Although attendance improved considerably with the new ballpark, the team continued to lose, and in 2003 the father-son combo of manager Bob Boone and third baseman Aaron Boone was broken up as Bob was relieved and Aaron traded to the New York Yankees.
The 2004 and 2005 seasons continued the trend of big hitting and poor pitching and ultimately poor records. Griffey, Jr. joined the 500-homerun club in 2004, but was again hampered by injuries. Adam Dunn emerged as formidable homerun hitter, but also broke the major league record for strikeouts in 2004. Although a number of free-agents were signed before 2005, the Reds were quickly in last place and manager Dave Miley was forced out in the 2005 midseason and replaced by Jerry Narron. Like many other small market clubs, the Reds have dispatched some of their veteran players and are entrusting their future to a young nucleus that includes Felipe López, Austin Kearns, Ryan Freel and Aaron Harang.
- Founded: 1867, 1869, 1876, 1882, or 1890, depending on the account. See below.
- Formerly known as: The Red Stockings in the 19th century; the Redlegs, from 1954 to 1960, when the term "Red" carried connotations of communism.
- Home ballpark: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
- Uniform colors: Red and white, trim Black
- Logo design: a red "C" with the word "REDS" inside
- Playoff appearances (12): 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1995
- Other titles won (1): Had baseball's best overall record in 1981
- American Association pennants won (1): 1882
Minor league affiliations
- AAA: Louisville Bats, International League
- AA: Chattanooga Lookouts, Southern League
- Advanced A: Sarasota Reds, Florida State League
- A: Dayton Dragons, Midwest League
- Rookie: Billings Mustangs, Pioneer League
- Rookie: GCL Reds, Gulf Coast League
- Rookie: VSL Reds, Venezuelan Summer League
- Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
- Reds award winners and league leaders
- Reds statistical records and milestone achievements
- Reds players of note
- Reds broadcasters and media
- Reds managers and ownership