I think you all know by now that I love Cincinnati. I also love baseball. And Cincinnati loves its Reds. What I didn’t know was how pivotal events in 1919 Cincinnati were in changing the sport forever. American Legacy Tours offers a tour that shares this bit of history, during which I learned A LOT!
As it so happened, I took the tour two days ago – May 4, 2019 which marked the 150th anniversary of the Reds’ inaugural game. Several players wore throwback uniforms to that time as well as the 1919 uniform.
Apparently, baseball has been huge in Cincinnati right from the start, despite the fact that the Reds weren’t a very good team. Still, baseball lovers were drawn to the sport and in 1919, the Baseball Commissioner resided in one of the downtown offices in Cincinnati.
As American Legacy Tours describes it, Cincinnati played a pivotal role in shaping the game of baseball. “Cincinnati is not only the birthplace to the first professional baseball team but also the location of the National League and American League merger, the creation of the World Series, and home to a championship that changed baseball forever.”
Why was that? Corruption. Plain and simple. It was the Cincinnati Reds vs. the Chicago White Sox for a 9-game (rather than 7) World Series in order to sell more tickets. But the whole thing was rigged, and fans caught on. So did many of the stakeholders in baseball’s success.
Right across the Ohio River was Newport, Kentucky which was full of gangsters, casinos, and lots and lots of money. Back in the day, baseball, boxing and horse-racing were the big things to bet on. After the 1919 World Series (which the Reds won), that would change. Once the indictments came down and the players involved were banned from baseball for life, Rule #21 came to be. From that point on, players would be required to sign that they understood that they could not bet on baseball. Seems that one future Reds’ player didn’t heed that warning.
Much of this story was made into the 1988 movie “8 Men Out,” but as I learned on the tour, Hollywood took some liberties with their timelines in the telling. The real story is much more interesting as we could see the trickle effect that this scandal had on baseball in the years to come.
Boy, Cincinnati is chock full of history! The German beer heritage. The start of Procter & Gamble. The bounty hunters waiting for the slaves to cross the Ohio River. The first paid professional fire department. The first purely “American” city founded after the American Revolution.
Cincinnati is also the birthplace of not only the first professional baseball team but also the location of the National League and American League merger, the creation of the World Series, and home to a championship that changed baseball forever.
If you love baseball or history, you’ll love Cincinnati! American Legacy Tours knocks Cincinnati history out of the park!
Did you know much about this infamous story?