Opening Day

April 3, 2012
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The original Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first openly all-professional team, were founded as an amateur club in 1866, and became fully professional in 1869. The Red Stockings won 130 straight games throughout 1869 and 1870. Star players included brothers Harry and George Wright, Fred Walterman, and pitcher Asa Brainard. The Cincinnati Red Stockings left the American Association in 1890 to play in the National League. It was also at this time that the team first shortened their name from “Red Stockings” to “Reds”. In 1912, the club opened a new steel-and-concrete ballpark, Crosley Field. After 1926, and well into the 1930s, the Reds were second division dwellers. However, by 1931, the team was bankrupt, the Great Depression was in full swing and Crosley Field was in a state of disrepair.

Powel Crosley Jr., an electronics magnate who produced radios, refrigerators, and other household items, bought the Reds out of bankruptcy in 1933, and hired Larry MacPhail to be the General Manager. Crosley had started WLW radio, the Reds flagship radio broadcaster, and the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation in Cincinnati, where he was also a prominent civic leader. MacPhail began to develop the Reds’ minor league system and expanded the Reds’ fan base. The Reds, throughout the 1930s, became a team of “firsts”. Crosley Field became the host of the first night game in 1935, which was also the first baseball fireworks night.

Starting in the early 1960s, the Reds’ farm system began producing a series of stars, including Jim Maloney, Pete Rose, Tony Pérez, Johnny Bench, Lee May, Tommy Helms, Bernie Carbo, Hal McRae, Dave Concepción and Gary Nolan. The tipping point came in 1967 with the appointment of Bob Howsam as general manager. That same year the Reds avoided a move to San Diego when the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County agreed to build a state of the art, downtown stadium on the edge of the Ohio River. The Reds entered into a 30-year lease in exchange for the stadium commitment keeping the franchise in its original home city. The Reds’ final game at Crosley Field, home to more than 4,500 baseball games, was played on June 24, 1970.

The Red’s 1970 season saw Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves) collect his 3,000th hit, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds, the team against which he played his first game.

He was the first player to get 3,000 career hits and 500 career home runs. Also during that year, Aaron established the record for most seasons with thirty or more home runs in the National League. In 1975, he won the NL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, while that same year, the Braves won the World Series. He holds the MLB records for the most career runs batted (2,297) and the most career extra base hits (1,477). Aaron is also in the top five for career hits with 3,771 (third) and runs with 2,174, which is tied for fourth with Babe Ruth. He is one of only four players to have at least seventeen seasons with 150 or more hits. He also is in second place in home runs (755) and at-bats (12,364), and in third place in games played (3,298).

During the 1974 season Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. He tied the record against the Reds during the opening day series.

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