The Cincinnati Reds‘ celebration of the original Red Stockings‘ debut as the first professional baseball team in 1869 will take center stage this weekend, highlighted by the dedication of the 1869 Red Stockings Pavilion.
The Reds are undertaking a season-long celebration to commemorate 150 years since the original Red Stockings played as baseball’s first openly all-salaried team. Along with a commemorative logo and several promotional tie-ins, one of the focal points of that initiative is the dedication of the 1869 Red Stockings Pavilion (rendering above) outside the Reds Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 4 at 5:00 p.m. local time. The event is open to the public.
The pavilion is the first permanent recognition of the starting nine players of the original Red Stockings, plus an alternate player and the club’s president and secretary. Twelve large bronze busts of the team, designed by local sculptor Tom Tsuchiya, adorn the top of the pavilion:
• Asa Brainard, pitcher/outfield
• Doug Allison, catcher
• Charlie Gould, first base
• Charlie Sweasy, second base
• Fred Waterman, third base
• George Wright, short stop
• Andy Leonard, left field
• Harry Wright, center field/pitcher (team captain)
• Cal McVey, right field
• William “Dick” Hurley, substitute
• Aaron Champion, club president
• John Joyce, secretary
The significance of May 4 is that the first game played by the Red Stockings was on May 4, 1869, with a 45-9 victory over Great Westerns of Cincinnati Base Ball Club. That inaugural game was played at Union Grounds, a ballfield with a 4,000-seat grandstand located near the present-day Union Terminal and Cincinnati Museum Center.
Club president Aaron Champion and club secretary John Joyce gave team captain Harry Wright the resources necessary to assemble and develop an all-professional championship-caliber team. Under Wright’s expert guidance and innovation, the team became a national sensation, traveling coast to coast and defeating all challengers en route to a 57-0 season. Their success paved the way for baseball to transition from an amateur sport to teams with all-paid players while earning Cincinnati the title of “The Birthplace of Professional Baseball.”
Throwback Uniforms Saturday and Sunday
Saturday’s game also marks the first in a series of 15 throwback uniforms the Reds will wear throughout the 2019 season to honor this year’s anniversary. This first set of uniforms will be from the 1902 style that was worn in the inaugural season of the famed “Palace of the Fans” ballpark. The throwbacks for Sunday’s game will feature an all-blue look from the 1911 road uniform.