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Sunday, August 15, 2010
Cincinnati Reds Uniform and Team History
Please click on the evolution of the Reds uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.
Baseball owes a debt of gratitude to Cincinnati. Why? Because the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first openly all-professional team in baseball history. Lead by the now legendary Harry and George Wright (Harry was the team manager, George was the team’s star and shortstop) and backed by a group of Ohio investors, the Red Stockings traveled the US from coast to coast in 1869, taking on all the top teams in the country. Amazingly, they went undefeated and complied a 65-0 record!
Their winning streak gained national attention and helped popularize the game of baseball itself. Within a few years the Wrights moved their team to Boston, name and all (thus the Boston Red Stockings, aka Boston Red Sox, name was born), but professional baseball had arrived in Cincinnati.
A few short years later, in 1876, the National League was formed and a new Cincinnati Red Stockings team became one of the league’s charter members. The team folded in 1880 and joined the American Association in 1882. In 1890 they were readmitted to the National League, and they’ve been an important part of the National League and professional baseball ever since.
In the mid-late 1800’s, most team uniforms were very simple white affairs, typically featuring a monogrammed letter of the home city on the front. This 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings jersey is a pullover style with a full collar and red “C” on the front.
This blue, road uniform is still a pullover style, although you can see that several buttons have been added to the front since the 1869 version. If you look closely, you’ll see that the pants have a center belt loop, which was to secure the belt buckle off to one side. Players of this era usually wore the belt buckle to one side so they could prevent injury when sliding into a base.
The red monogrammed “C” (for Cincinnati) is a fairly consistent theme throughout the history of the Reds’ uniform, although it will take many different shapes and sizes over the years.
This is a full button-down pinstripe road uniform with what is known as a “cadet” collar. The Reds logo is strikingly similar to the Reds logo of today - a wonderful tradition and a tribute to simple, elegant design. Pinstriped uniforms had been in use for several years by this time and most major league teams had a pinstriped uniform either at home or on the road (11 of the 16 major league teams wore pinstripes in 1919 - 5 of the 8 AL teams and 6 of the 8 NL teams).
The 1919 Reds faced the American League’s Chicago White Sox in what was almost certainly the most controversial World Series in history. The Reds, considered by many to be the underdog, ended up defeating the White Sox (or should we say “Black Sox”) 5 games to 3 to capture their first World Series in their first trip to the finals.
For those of you unfamiliar with baseball history, eight White Sox ballplayers were found guilty of betting against their own team in the 1919 World Series. All 8 were banned from professional baseball for life one year later. Those players included the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson who batted .375 in the Series, an average which certainly seems to suggest that he wasn’t trying to throw the series, leading to a debate which continues to this day.
By this time, 1919, the Reds had already been playing at Redland Field, later named Crosley Field, for 8 years - the first game was played at Crosley April 11, 1912).
Since before the turn of the century, baseball teams typically wore the name of their city on their road jersey and the team nickname on their home uniform, a pattern that is in use even today. Thus we’re looking at the 1933 Reds’ road uniform.
Notice the thin red piping around the collar and down the buttoned front of the jersey. The pants have an unusual feature - a “belt tunnel”. For those of you that haven’t heard this expression before, belt tunnels function like belt loops but are much wider, 4-6 inches wide as opposed to 1-2 inches wide.
This home uniform is a departure from any Reds uniform we’ve seen thus far, primarily because of the bright red pants and undershirt, but also because of the introduction of yellow to the uniform (in the form of a yellow stripe down the side of the pants). Note also the use of the scripted team name “Reds” which has replaced the more traditional monogrammed “C”. The Reds only wore this red trousered uniform in 1936, and it was actually what we might call a “3rd jersey” or 3rd uniform today because the Reds actually had 4 uniform variations.
Also of interest - the year before, in 1935, the Reds hosted the first night game in major league history - beating the Phillies 2-1 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
One other night game note - on June 15th 1938 the Giants played the first game ever played under the lights in New York, and 23 year old Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer pitches a no hitter - amazingly, he pitched another no hitter 4 days earlier vs the Boston Braves. This is the only time the same pitcher pitches back-to-back no hitters in 20th century major league history.
This is a classic home jersey, simple white, with no piping or pinstripes. This is a design lesson that may be slightly lost on today’s uniform designers - simple can be beautiful.
After losing the Series in 1939 in a 4 game sweep to the Yankees, the Reds returned to the 1940 World Series on a mission to win their 2nd World Series Championship (the 1st was in 1919, the year of the “Black Sox” scandal). Led by Frank McCormick, Paul Derringer, and Jimmy Ripple, the Reds edged the Tigers four games to three. In game seven the Tigers had their ace, Bob Newsom, on the mound, while the Reds countered with their ace, Paul Derringer. Trailing 1-0 going into the 7th, the Reds scored twice in the bottom of the 7th and held on for a 2-1 win.
This is a vest style road jersey, and there are several interesting points to note. First of all, this is the second use of a vest in major league baseball - the first being the Chicago Cubs from 1940-1942. The Reds continued with a vest from 1956 - 1966.
Secondly, it’s interesting to note that during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many teams used zippered jerseys instead of the more traditional button front jerseys, while a handful of teams wore them well into the 70’s and even the 80’s. The Reds were one of three pre-1977 major league teams that never wore zippers, the others being the Yankees and A’s. The 1937 Cubs were the first team to wear a zippered jersey, and as far we can tell the 1988 Phillies were the last to wear one.
Thirdly, note the appearance of a cartoon-ish character on the front of the jersey. This is, we believe, the first appearance of a cartoon type character on the front of a major league jersey (the Browns had a cartoon character on their sleeve in 1952 & 1953). The Braves and the Indians had Indian head variations on the front of their jerseys in the 20’s and earlier, the A’s had an elephant and the Cards had cardinals, but these were depictions of a person or an animal as opposed to a cartoon character. The character on the 1956 Reds’ jersey is known as “Mr. Baseball” or “Old Red”, and the Reds only wore it this season - never again.
Finally, the 1956 Reds jersey has the addition of a uniform number on the front of the jersey. This is the 1st time a Reds jersey had a number on the front. The Reds were actually the 3rd team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey - the Dodgers did it first in 1952, and the Braves followed suit in 1953.
The Reds have stuck with the vest style first introduced in 1956, as we see on this road jersey. They would stop wearing the vest after the ’66 season, but would return to it in the ‘90’s.
The black arm band on the left arm pays tribute to owner Powell Crosley who passed away March 28th, 1961.
Led by Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson (who had a career year hitting .343), and pitcher Joey Jay (21-10), the 1961 Reds finished first in the National League with a 93-61 record. They thus advanced to the World Series for the 4th time in their history - they previously won it all in 1919 and 1940, and lost to the Yankees in 1939.
The 4th time would not be lucky, however, as they fell to the Yankees four games to one. Remarkably, the powerful Yankees earned their near sweep of the Reds with very limited help from their 1961 stars Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Mantle, who was injured, appeared in only two games and was held to a single in 6 at bats. Maris, who slugged a record 61 homers in the regular season, had only two hits, one a homer, in 19 at bats.
The Reds would have to wait until the glory years of the 70’s before they make another appearance in the World Series.
This is a classic home jersey - simple and elegant. There is no piping, pinstripes, or unnecessary colors - simply a classic Reds logo and a uniform number. This Reds logo first appeared in 1967, and a modest variation of it is still used today. Catcher Johnny Bench is awarded with Rookie of the Year honours this year, and goes on to become a Reds legend and arguably the greatest catcher of all time.
This road jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt.
The Reds who wore this wonderful uniform were known as “The Big Red Machine”. With players like Pete Rose, Ken Griffey, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and manager Sparky Anderson, the name was fitting.
After having made it to the World Series in 1970 and 1972 - losing to the Orioles in ’70 and the A’s in ’72 - The Big Red Machine made it back to the World Series in 1975.
The ‘75 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox is arguably the greatest Series in history. The 6th game lasted more than 4 hours. The Sox jumped into an early 3-0 lead, but the Reds came back to take the lead 6-3. Then Bernie Carbo of the Red Sox hit a three-run homer in the 8th to tie the game at 6. The stalemate lasted into the 12th, when Carlton Fisk launched a ball to left that rang off the foul pole, sending the home town fans into hysterics. The game has gone down in baseballs’ history books as simply “Game 6”.
In game seven the very next night, the Reds again found themselves down 3-0, but came back with 2 in the 6th, 1 more in the 7th and finally one more in the top of the 9th to win the game, and the series, 4-3. Truly a Series for the ages.
The patch on the right sleeve of this home uniform is the National League Centennial, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National League. Once again, this is a double knit, sans-a-belt style uniform, but somehow it looked better than most uniforms of this era, perhaps because we associate it with such a winning club.
Picking right up where they left off in 1975, the Reds powered their way to a 102-60 first place finish in the NL West, then swept the Phillies 3 games to none in the NLCS.
True to their “Big Red Machine” nickname, the Reds then swept the Yankees 4 games to none to become the first National League team to win back-to-back World Series since the 1921-22 NY Giants.
For the first time in the history of the Reds, their jersey is all red. This home jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt.
Two years after this Pete Rose becomes the Major League all time hits leader, hitting number 4192 on September 11, 1985. He retires a year later with a total of 4,256 hits.
The Reds held on to this double knit, pullover style, synthetic jersey and “Sans-a-Belt” long after most other teams had given up on it.
The flag over the right breast on this home uniform is in honor of America’s involvement in the Gulf War, something that most major league teams did somewhere on their uniform.
On the left sleeve is the World Series Patch. Beginning in the mid-late 80’s, the two teams that made it to the World Series added a special World Series patch to their uniform to celebrate their World Series appearance.
After knocking off the Pirates 4 games to 2 in the NLCS, the 1990 Reds faced the A’s and performed one of the greatest upsets in the history of the World Series. Billy Hatcher hit .750 and set a Series record with 7 consecutive hits; Chris Sabo achieved stardom hitting .563 for the Series including 3 hits in game 2 and a pair of home runs in game 3 that ignited a 14-hit attack; and Joe Oliver and Barry Larkin also hit over .300; as the Reds swept the heavily favored Oakland A’s with Rickey Henderson, the Bash Brothers, Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley four games to none.
By 1997 the Reds have finally abandoned the double knit style jersey they had worn for so many years, and have re-introduced the vest style jersey that they first wore in 1956. The patch on the left breast of this home pinstriped uniform marks the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. All teams wore this patch in honor of Jackie Robinson and all he achieved, and all teams retired his number 42 - the first time in the history of the big four North American sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) that a number has been universally retired.
An unusual touch to this uniform is the fact that the “undershirt” has the team logo on the sleeve. This is unusual because in most cases the undershirt doesn’t have a sleeve logo.
This 2005 uniform is a button-fronted third jersey that pays tribute to the red jersey worn by the Reds (see the 1983 jersey), and features the cartoon-ish character “Mr. Baseball” or “Old Red”, who first appeared on a Reds jersey in 1956 (see above). The 1956 use of this character was, we believe, the first appearance of a cartoon type character on the front of a major league jersey (the Browns had a cartoon character on their sleeve in 1952 & 1953). The Braves and the Indians had Indian head variations on the front of their jerseys in the 20’s and earlier, the A’s had an elephant and the Cards had cardinals, but these were depictions of a person or an animal as opposed to a cartoon character.
On the field the 2005 Reds finished in 5th in the NL Central, 27 games behind the Cardinals. Adam Dunn followed up his huge 2004 season with another great one in 2005 – driving in 101 RBI while pounding 40 homers. And Ken Griffey Jr. had a great season with 148 hits, 92 RBI, 35 home runs and a .301 batting average.
This home white uniform is an all time classic – baseball uniforms don’t get much better than this. On the field, the Reds finished 72-90, 13 games behind the NL Central winning Cubs. Two bright sports for the Reds: One was the play of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips who had a career year with 187 hits, 94 RBI and 30 Home Runs; the other was the play of pitcher Aaron Harang who went 16-6 with a 3.73 ERA and struck out 218 batters in 231.2 innings pitched.
Please also note the left sleeve appearance of the cartoon-ish character “Mr. Baseball” or “Old Red”, who first appeared on a Reds jersey in 1956 (see above). The 1956 use of this character was, we believe, the first appearance of a cartoon type character on the front of a major league jersey (the Browns had a cartoon character on their sleeve in 1952 & 1953). The Braves and the Indians had Indian head variations on the front of their jerseys in the 20’s and earlier, the A’s had an elephant and the Cards had cardinals, but these were depictions of a person or an animal as opposed to a cartoon character.
Celebrate the Reds' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Cincinnati Reds and the history of the Reds franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 16 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 16 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.
These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)
If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Cincinnati Reds YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlzRZBlpKIc or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Cincinnati-Reds-c140/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.
And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox
And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Reds.
This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 15, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org !