Ohio Baseball “Firsts”
1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (founded 1866) become first fully professional team by paying all of its players. Also, they won one hundred and thirty straight games before disbanding. They reformed and became a charter member of the National League in 1876.
In 1890 the team became simply the Reds and joined the National League for good. After becoming the first pro team, in 1919 the Reds won their first National League pennant and the World Series (however this win was later tainted by scandal in which 8 players from the Chicago White Sox were permanently banned for throwing the series).
In 1935, the Cincinatti field, Crosley Field hosted the first ever night time pro baseball game. FDR turned on the lights for the game remotely from the White House. There were also fireworks and the Reds won 2-1.
In 1938, the Reds played in the first NYC night game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. Their pitcher Johnny Vander Meer, just 23 years old, became the first pitcher to throw two consecutive no-hitters (he still holds the record today). The Reds would return just a year later to Ebbets Field to play in the first televised Major League baseball game.
While the famous Reds had many first, Ohioan Wesley Branch Rickey would go on to be not a great player (though he tried for some years), but it turned out he had a keen sports business sense. From the front office he was developed the modern “farm system”. He also implemented the required use of batting helmets. He also founded the first full-time spring training operation.
However his biggest contribution was not just to Major League Baseball, but to society. He did this by signing Jackie Robinson and there by brought down the color barrier in the National League. This opened the door for the Indians to sign Larry Doby, bringing down the race barrier in the American League. The Indians would also later hire Frank Robinson, the first African American manager in the major leagues.
Ricky was quoted as saying, that while he couldn’t stop racism in our society, he could do something about it in the realm of baseball.