The franchise originated in 1882 as a charter member of the now-defunct 19th Century major league called the American Association. The name "Reds" was inspired by a previous, unrelated club called the Cincinnati Red Stockings, recognized as the first openly professional baseball team. The current Reds joined the National League in 1890 after spending its first eight years in the Association.
The Reds have enjoyed sporadic success over their 125-plus years. They won the AA's inaugural season in 1882, and did not win another championship until 1919. They were also competitive in the late 1930s, and from the late 1950s well into the 1970s. Their most recent World Series championship came in 1990.
The best players of the Cincinnati Red Stockings relocated to Boston after the 1870 season, taking the nickname along with them and becoming the Boston Red Stockings, a team later dubbed the "Beaneaters" and eventually the "Braves", who are now based in Atlanta. A new Cincinnati Red Stockings team became a charter member of the National League in 1876, five years after the first Red Stockings team. The second Red Stockings team was expelled from the league after the 1880 season, in part for violating league rules by serving beer to fans at games, and for their refusal to stop renting out their ballpark, the Bank Street Grounds, on Sundays.
Although some dispute whether the two teams are the same, according to The Baseball Encyclopedia the Cincinnati Red Stockings left the American Association in 1890 to play in the National League. One of the main reasons had absolutely nothing to do with the team directly--the upstart Player's League, an early, failed attempt to break the reserve clause in baseball. The league's impending presence severely weakened both previously existing leagues, and, because the National League decided to expand and the American Association was weakening, the team decided to accept the invitation to become members of the stronger National League. It was also at this time that the team first shortened their nickname from "Red Stockings" to "Reds". The Reds wandered through the 1890s signing local stars & aging veterans. During this time, the team never finished above third place (1897) and never closer than 10 1/2 games (1890).
At the turn of the century, the Reds had hitting stars such as Sam Crawford and Cy Seymour. Seymour's .377 average in 1905 was the first individual batting crown won by a Red. In 1911, Bob Bescher stole 81 bases, which is still a team record. Like the previous decade, the 1900s were not kind to the Reds, as much of the decade was spent in the league's second division.
By 1920, the "Black Sox" scandal had brought a taint to the Reds' first championship. In the remainder of the 1920s and early 1930s the Reds were second division dwellers for most of those years. Eppa Rixey, Dolf Luque and Pete Donohue were pitching stars; the offense never quite lived up to the pitching. By 1931 the team was bankrupt, thanks to the Great Depression, and Crosley Field was in a state of disrepair.
Powel Crosley Jr., an electronics magnate who, with his brother Lewis M. Crosley, produced radios, refrigerators, and other household items, bought the Reds out of bankruptcy in 1933, and hired Larry MacPhail to be the General Manager. Powell Crosley Jr. had also started WLW radio and the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation in Cincinnati and was doing quite well as a civic leader. (WLW has been the Reds' radio flagship for decades.) MacPhail began to develop the Reds' minor league system and expanded the Reds' base. The Reds, throughout the 1930s, became a team of "firsts". Crosley Field, (formerly Redland Field), became the host of the first night game in 1935. Johnny Vander Meer became the only pitcher in major league history to throw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938. Thanks to Vander Meer, Paul Derringer, and second-baseman/third baseman-turned-pitcher Bucky Walters, the Reds had a solid pitching staff. The offense came around in the late 1930s. Ernie Lombardi was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1938, First baseman Frank McCormick was the 1940 NL MVP. Other position players included Harry Craft, Lonny Frey, Ival Goodman and Lew Riggs. By 1938 the Reds, now led by manager Bill McKechnie, were out of the second division finishing fourth. By 1939 they were National League champions. The Reds were swept by the New York Yankees in four straight. In 1940, they repeated as NL Champions, and for the first time in 21 years, the Reds captured a World championship, beating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to 3.
In 1956, led by National League Rookie of the Year Frank Robinson, the Reds hit 221 HR to tie the NL record. By 1961, Robinson was joined by Vada Pinson, Wally Post, Gordy Coleman and Gene Freese. Pitchers Joey Jay, Jim O'Toole, and Bob Purkey led the staff. The Reds captured the 1961 National League pennant, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, only to be defeated by the perennially powerful New York Yankees in the World Series. The Reds had many successful teams during the rest of the 1960s, but did not produce any championships. They won 98 games in 1962 (paced by Purkey's 23), but finished third. In 1964, they lost the pennant by one game, having taken 1st place when the Phillies collapsed in September but then losing out to the Cardinals. In that 1964 season, the beloved leader of the Reds, manager Fred Hutchinson, died of cancer, succumbing just weeks after the end of the 1964 season, one of baseball's most exciting pennant races ever. The failure of the Reds to win the 1964 pennant led to owner Bill DeWitt's selling off key components of the team, in anticipation of relocating the franchise. After the 1965 season he executed what may be the most lopsided trade in baseball history, sending former Most-Valuable Player Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun, and outfielder Dick Simpson. Robinson went on to win the MVP in the American league for 1966, win the "triple crown", and lead Baltimore to its first ever World Series title in a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds did not recover from this trade until the rise of the "Big Red Machine" of the 1970s.
Starting in the early 1960s, the Reds' farm system began producing a series of future stars, such as Jim Maloney (the Reds pitching ace of the 1960s), 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 an all but certain move to San Diego when the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County agreed to build a new, 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. In a series of strategic moves, Howsam nurtured the homegrown talent and brought in key personnel, allowing the team to finally reach its potential during the 1970s. The Reds' final game at Crosley Field, home to more than 4,500 baseball games, was played on June 24, 1970, a 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants. In its place, a new stadium, and a new Reds dynasty.
Under Howsam's administration starting in the late 1960s, the Reds instituted a strict rule barring the team's players from wearing mustaches, beards, and long hair. (This rule, with a mustache exemption, is also enforced to this day by the New York Yankees, under the ownership of George Steinbrenner.) The clean cut look was meant to present the team as wholesome and traditional in an era of turmoil. Over the years, the rule was controversial, but persisted under the ownership of Marge Schott. All players coming to the Reds were required to shave and cut their hair for the next three decades or more. On at least one occasion, in the early 1980s, when the Reds were hurting for pitching, strict enforcement of this rule lost them the services of star reliever Rollie Fingers, who would not shave his trademark handlebar moustache in order to join the team. The Reds thus took a pass on Fingers. When Pete Rose became player-manager in the mid-1980s, he grew a rattail, fashionable among the youth of the time, but the rule was not officially rescinded until 1999 when the Reds traded for slugger Greg Vaughn, who had a goatee.
The Reds' grooming rules also included guidelines for wearing the uniform. In major league baseball, a club generally provides most of the equipment and clothing needed for play. However, players are required to supply their gloves and shoes themselves. Many players take advantage of this rule by entering into sponsorship arrangements with shoe manufacturers. Through the mid-1980s, the Reds had a strict rule that players were to wear only plain black shoes with no prominent logo. Reds players decried the boring color choice as well as the denial of the opportunity to earn more money through shoe contracts. A compromise was struck in which players were given the opportunity to wear red shoes.
For years, club management and players throughout Major League Baseball have been involved in a struggle over how uniform pants and stockings are to be worn. Generally, baseball players wear a double layer of socks -- underneath, the regular socks or "sanitaries" (traditionally plain white) and over that, a stirrup-type stocking (traditionally bearing team colors). Some clubs, such as the Reds, require that the pants and socks be worn so that the team colors on the stirrup are visible. However, since the 1990s, players have generally preferred to pull down the cuffs of their trousers all the way to the ankle, thus covering up the colored stockings.
After the disastrous season (the only season of the '70s during which the Reds finished with a losing record) the Reds reloaded by trading veterans Jimmy Stewert, May, and Tommy Helms for Joe Morgan, César Gerónimo, Jack Billingham, Ed Armbrister, and Denis Menke. Meanwhile, Dave Concepción blossomed at shortstop. 1971 was also the year a key component of the future world championships was acquired in George Foster from the San Francisco Giants in a trade for shortstop Frank Duffy.
The Reds won the NL West in baseball's first ever strike-shortened season and defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in an exciting five-game playoff series--that fifth game in Cincinnati was the last major league game Pittsburgh great Roberto Clemente ever played--then faced the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. Six of the seven games were won by one run. With powerful slugger Reggie Jackson sidelined due to an injury incurred during Oakland's playoff series against Detroit, Ohio native Gene Tenace got a chance to play in the series for manager Dick Williams, delivering four home runs that tied the World Series record for homers, propelling Oakland to a dramatic seven-game series win. This was the first World Series in which no starting pitcher for either side pitched a complete game. The Reds won a third NL West crown in after a dramatic second half comeback, that saw them make up 10½ games on the Los Angeles Dodgers after the All-Star break. However they lost the NL pennant to the New York Mets in five games. In game one, Tom Seaver faced Jack Billingham in a classic pitching duel, with all three runs of the 2-1 margin being scored on home runs. John Milner provided New York's run off Billingham, while Pete Rose tied the game in the seventh inning off Seaver, setting the stage for a dramatic game ending home run by Johnny Bench in the bottom of the ninth inning. The New York series provided plenty of controversy with the riotous behavior of Shea Stadium fans towards Pete Rose when he and Bud Harrelson scuffled after a hard slide by Rose into Harrelson at second base during the fifth inning of Game 3. A full bench-clearing fight resulted after New York's Bud Harrelson responded to Rose's aggressive move to prevent him from completing a double play by calling him a name. The resulting on-field tension led to two separate incidents in which play was stopped. The Reds trailed 9-3 and New York's manager, Yogi Berra, and legendary outfielder Willie Mays, at the request of National League president Warren Giles, appealed to fans in left field to restrain themselves. The next day the series was extended to a fifth game when Rose homered in the 12th inning to tie the series at two games each. The Reds won 98 games in but they finished second to the 102-win Los Angeles Dodgers and MVP Steve Garvey.
The 1974 season started off with much excitement, as the Atlanta Braves were in town to open the season with the Reds. Hank Aaron entered opening day with 713 home runs, one shy of tying Babe Ruth's record of 714. On a three ball one strike count, the first pitch Aaron swung at in the 74 season was the record tying home run off Jack Billingham. The next day the Braves benched Aaron, hoping to save him for his record breaking home run on their season opening homestand. The commissioner of baseball, Bowie Kuhn, ordered Braves management to play Aaron the next day, where he narrowly missed the historic home run in the fifth inning. Aaron went on to set the record in Atlanta two nights later off Al Downing and the Los Angeles Dodgers. 1974 also was the debut of Hall of Fame radio announcer Marty Brennaman, who replaced Al Michaels, after Michaels left the Reds to broadcast for the San Francisco Giants.
With 1975, the Big Red Machine lineup solidified with the starting team of Johnny Bench (c), Tony Perez (1b), Joe Morgan (2b), Dave Concepción (ss), Pete Rose (3b), Ken Griffey (rf), César Gerónimo (cf), and George Foster (lf). The starting pitchers included Don Gullett, Fred Norman, Gary Nolan, Jack Billingham, Pat Darcy, and Clay Kirby. However, it was the bullpen that was the key to the Reds' pitching (and Anderson's reputation as "Captain Hook") with Rawly Eastwick and Will McEnaney combining for 37 saves. Pedro Borbon and Clay Carroll filled in with five and seven saves respectively. However, this was not the lineup on Opening Day. At that time, Rose still played in left field, Foster was not a starter, while John Vuckovich, an off-season acquisition from the Milwaukee Brewers was the starting third baseman, replacing Dan Driessen, who was a decent hitter, but whose defensive skills were considered a weakness. While Vuckovich was a superb defensive shortstop, he was a weak hitter. In May, with the team off to a slow start and trailing the Dodgers, Sparky Anderson made a bold move by moving Rose to third base (a position where he had very little experience) and inserting Foster in left field to bat cleanup. This was the jolt that the Reds needed to propel them into first place, with Rose proving to be reliable on defense, while adding Foster to the outfield gave the offense some added punch. During the season, the Reds compiled two notable streaks: (1) by winning 41 out of 50 games in one stretch, and (2) by going a month without committing any errors on defense.
In the 1975 season, Cincinnati clinched the NL West with 108 victories, then swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in three games to win the NL pennant. In the World Series, the Boston Red Sox were the opponents. After splitting the first four games, the Reds took Game 5. After a three-day rain delay, the two teams met in Game 6, one of the most memorable baseball games ever played and considered by many to be the best World Series game ever. The Reds were ahead 6-3 with 5 outs left, when the Red Sox tied the game on former Red Bernie Carbo's three-run home run. It was Carbo's second pinch-hit three-run homer in the series. After a few close-calls either way, Carlton Fisk hit a dramatic 12th inning home run off the foul pole in left field (which is considered to be one of the greatest TV sports moments of all time) to give the Red Sox a 7-6 win and force a deciding Game 7. Cincinnati prevailed the next day when Morgan's RBI single won Game 7 and gave the Reds their first championship in 35 years.
1976 saw a return of the same starting eight in the field. The starting rotation was led by Gary Nolan. The remaining starters, Don Gullet, Jack Billingham, Pat Zachary, Santos Alcalá, and Fred Norman comprised an underrated staff in which four of the six had ERAs below 3.10. Rawley Eastwick, Pedro Borbon, and Will McEnany shared closer duties, recording 26, 8, and 7 saves respectively.
In , the Reds won the NL West by ten games. They went undefeated in the postseason, sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies (winning Game 3 in their final at-bat) to return to the World Series. They continued to dominate by sweeping the Yankees in the newly renovated Yankee Stadium, the first World Series games played in Yankee Stadium since 1964. This was only the second ever sweep of the proud Yankees in the World Series. In winning the Series, the Reds became the first NL team since the 1921–22 New York Giants to win back-to-back World Series championships.
The later years of the 1970s brought turmoil and change. After two consecutive runner-up seasons, Wagner fired manager Anderson. By , players Gullett, Nolan, Pérez, and Rose, among others, had left the club. By 1979, the starters were Bench (c), Dan Driessen (1b), Morgan (2b), Concepcion (ss), Ray Knight (3b), with Griffey, Foster, and Geronimo again in the outfield. The pitching staff had experienced an almost complete turnover. The ace starter was now Tom Seaver, acquired from the New York Mets in 1977 in a multiple-player deal. Only Norman was left from 1975-76; the remaining starters were Mike La Coss, Bill Bonham, and Paul Moskau. In the bullpen, only Borbon had remained. Dave Tomlin and Mario Soto worked mid-innings with Tom Hume and Doug Bair closing.
The Reds did manage to win the 1979 NL West behind the pitching of Tom Seaver but were dispatched in the NL playoffs by Pittsburgh, after a controversial play in Game 2 in which a ball hit by Pittsburgh's Phil Garner was caught by Cincinnati outfielder Dave Collins but was ruled a trap, setting the Pirates up to take a 2-1 lead. The Pirates swept the series 3 games to 0.
The 1981 team fielded a strong lineup, with only Concepcion, Foster, and Griffey retaining their spots from the 1975-76 heyday. Johnny Bench broke his ankle and so Joe Nolan played the majority of games behind the plate. Driessen and Knight still played the corners, but Morgan and Geronimo had been replaced at second base and center field by Ron Oester and Dave Collins. Mario Soto posted a banner year starting on the mound, even surpassing the performance of future hall-of-famer Seaver. La Coss, Bruce Berenyi, and Frank Pastore rounded out the starting rotation. Hume again led the bullpen as closer, joined by Bair, Moskau, Joe Price, and Geoff Combe.
In , Cincinnati had the best overall record in baseball, but they finished second in the division in both of the half-seasons that were created after a mid-season players' strike. To commemorate this, a team photo was taken, accompanied by a banner that read "Baseball's Best Record 1981". By , the Reds were a shell of the original Red Machine; they lost 101 games that year. Johnny Bench retired a year later. Outraged Reds fans proclaimed, "We Wuz Robbed!"
The Reds fell to the absolute bottom of the Western Division for the next few years, losing Seaver after the 1982 season. A series of changes followed — Dann Bilardello behind the plate, Nick Esasky taking over after Bench's failed experiment at third base, and Gary Redus taking over from Cedeno. Tom Hume had pitched himself out and there was not a body in the bullpen worth naming. Dave Concepción was the sole remaining starter from the Big Red Machine era.
Wagner's control of the Reds ended in 1983, when Howsam, the architect of the Big Red Machine was brought back and he began his return by acquiring Cincinnati native Dave Parker from Pittsburgh. In the Reds began to move up, depending on trades and some minor leaguers. In that season Dave Parker, Dave Concepción and Tony Pérez were in Cincinnati uniforms. By the end of 1984, Pete Rose was hired to be the Reds player-manager. After raising the franchise from the grave, Howsam gave way to the administration of Bill Bergesch, who was principally known for holding on tightly to perennial future stars like Kurt Stillwell, Tracy Jones, Kal Daniels, and others, refusing to risk these "crown jewels" for pitching help.
Under Bergesch, from -89 the Reds finished second four times. Among the highlights, Rose became the all-time hits leader, Tom Browning threw a perfect game, and Chris Sabo was the 1988 National League Rookie of the Year. The Reds also had a bullpen star in John Franco, who was with the team from 1984 to 1989. In , Rose was banned from baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti, who declared Rose guilty of "conduct detrimental to baseball". Controversy also swirled around Reds owner Marge Schott, who was accused several times of ethnic and racial slurs.
In , General Manager Bergesch was replaced by Murray Cook, who initiated a series of deals that would finally bring the Reds back to the championship, starting with acquisitions of Danny Jackson and Jose Rijo, finally letting go of Bergesch favorites Stillwell and Parker. In , Cook was succeeded by Bob Quinn, who put the final pieces of the championship puzzle together, with acquisitions such as Hal Morris, Billy Hatcher, and Randy Myers.
In , the Reds under new manager Lou Piniella shocked baseball by leading the NL West from wire-to-wire. They started off 33-12, winning their first 9 games, and maintained their lead throughout the year. Led by Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Paul O'Neill and Billy Hatcher in the field, and by José Rijo, Tom Browning and the "Nasty Boys" of Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers on the mound, the Reds took out the Pirates in the NLCS. Adopting MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" as the team's unofficial anthem, the Reds swept the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in four straight. The sweep of the Oakland Athletics extended the Reds winning streak in the World Series to 9 consecutive games. The World Series, however, cost the team Eric Davis, who severely bruised a kidney diving for a fly ball in the first inning of Game 4.
In , Quinn was replaced in the front office by Jim Bowden. On the field, manager Lou Piniella wanted outfielder Paul O'Neill to be a power-hitter to fill the void Eric Davis left when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Tim Belcher. However, O'Neill only hit .246 and 14 homers. In the midst of all that trouble, the Reds won 90 games in 1992. But that was enough for 2nd place behind the division-winning Atlanta Braves. Before the season ended, Piniella got into an altercation with reliever Rob Dibble. Additionally, O'Neill was traded to the New York Yankees for outfielder Roberto Kelly. Kelly would only be in a Reds uniform for a few years. As for O'Neill, he would lead an up-and-coming Yankees team to several postseason appearances. Also, the Reds would replace the famous "Big Red Machine" uniforms in favor of a pinstriped uniform with no sleeves.
For the 1993 season Piniella was replaced by fan favorite Tony Perez, but he lasted only 44 games at the helm, replaced by Davey Johnson. With Johnson steering the team, the Reds made steady progress upward. In 1994, the Reds were in the newly-created National League Central Division with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, as well as fellow rivals Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros. By the time the strike hit, the Reds finished a half-game ahead of the Astros for first-place in the NL Central. By , the Reds won the division thanks to Most Valuable Player Barry Larkin. After defeating the NL West champion Dodgers in the first NLDS since 1981, they lost to the Atlanta Braves. As of 2008, 1995 remains the only year in the Division Series era in which neither the Cubs, Cardinals, nor Astros made the playoffs, since the Reds had won the division and the Colorado Rockies (in only their 3rd year) won the NL Wild Card - as a consequence, the Reds have not made the playoffs since 1995.
In a bizarre move, eccentric team owner Marge Schott announced mid-season that Johnson would be gone by the end of the year, regardless of outcome, to be replaced by former Reds third baseman Ray Knight. Johnson and Schott had never gotten along; by most accounts, the main reason for the firing was that Schott didn't approve of Johnson living with his fiancée before they were married, In contrast, Knight, along with his wife, professional golfer Nancy Lopez, were personal friends of Schott's. The team took a dive under Knight and he was unable to complete two full seasons as manager, subject to complaints in the press about his strict managerial style.
In the Reds won 96 games, led by manager Jack McKeon, but lost to the New York Mets in a one game playoff. Earlier that year, Schott sold controlling interest in the Reds to Cincinnati businessman Carl Lindner. Following (and despite) an 85–77 finish, McKeon was fired after the 2000 season, and the Reds have not had a winning season since.
Riverfront Stadium was demolished in and ended an era marked by three world championships.
Great American Ball Park opened in with high expectations for a team led by local favorites, including franchise outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., shortstop Barry Larkin, reliever Danny Graves and first baseman Sean Casey. Although attendance improved considerably with the new ballpark, the team continued to lose. This was largely because Schott hadn't invested much in the farm system since the early 1990s, leaving the team relatively thin on talent. After years of promises that the club was rebuilding toward the opening of the new ballpark, General Manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone were fired on July 28. This broke up the father-son combo of manager Bob Boone and third baseman Aaron Boone, and Aaron was soon traded to the New York Yankees. Following the season Dan O'Brien was hired as the Reds' 16th General Manager.
The and seasons continued the trend of big hitting and poor pitching and ultimately poor records. Griffey, Jr. joined the 500-home run club in 2004, but was again hampered by injuries. Adam Dunn emerged as formidable home run hitter, hitting a home run against Jose Lima. He also broke the major league record for strikeouts in 2004. Although a number of free agents were signed before 2005, the Reds were quickly in last place and manager Dave Miley was forced out in the 2005 midseason and replaced by Jerry Narron. Like many other small market clubs, the Reds dispatched some of their veteran players and began entrusting their future to a young nucleus that includes Adam Dunn, Ryan Freel, and Aaron Harang. Late summer, 2004 saw the opening of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. The Reds HOF had been in existence in "name only" since the 1950s, with player plaques, photos and other memorabilia scattered throughout front office store rooms and hallways. Ownership and management desired a stand-alone facility, where the public could walk through inter-active displays, see locker-room recreations, watch videos of classic Reds moments and peruse historical items from the Reds' long history. The main first floor houses a movie theater which resembles an older, ivy-covered brick wall ballyard - the movie theatere replays continuously throughout the day. The hallways contain many old photographs. As visitors move to the rear of the building, they can view a three-story wall containing a baseball for every hit Pete Rose had during his career. The third floor contains interactive exhibits including a pitcher's mound fans can throw off of, a radio booth fans can create their own play-by-play announcements, and children's area where the fundamentals of baseball are taught by former Reds player videos.
For Opening Day 2006, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch, becoming the first sitting president to throw out the first pitch at a Reds game. 2006 also began a new era in Reds baseball as fruit and vegetable wholesaler Robert Castellini took over as owner, assuming control of the team from Lindner. Castellini promptly fired general manager Dan O'Brien. Wayne Krivsky, previously an assistant General Manager with the Minnesota Twins, and a candidate for the job when O'Brien was hired, was appointed as the General Manager of the Reds after a protracted search. The first move Krivsky made was to trade young outfielder Wily Mo Peña to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo made his first start in a Reds uniform on April 5, 2006. He not only earned the win, but also led off the third inning with his first career home run. Krivsky also gave fans hope with mid season trades that bolstered the "non-existent" bullpen, trading for "Everyday Eddie" Guardado and then trading outfielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe López, and 2004 first round draft pick Ryan Wagner to the Washington Nationals for relievers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, shortstop Royce Clayton, and two prospects. This move was controversial, as not only did it seem as if the Reds did not receive much in return for two starting position players and a former first-round draft pick, but also it was later discovered that the Nationals may have hidden Majewski's health problems. The Reds made a run at the playoffs in the weak Central Division, but ultimately ended with a 80–82 losing record.
The 2007 season saw many returning faces but was ultimately mired in mediocrity. Midway through the season Jerry Narron was fired as manager and replaced by Pete Mackanin, the advance scout for the club. The Reds ended up posting a winning record under Mackanin, but finished the season in 5th place in the Central Division. Mackanin was manager in an interim capacity only, and though he was considered for the job permanently, the Reds, seeking a big name to fill the spot, ultimately brought in Dusty Baker. Early in the 2008 season, Wayne Krivsky was fired and replaced by former St. Louis Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty, who helped build the 2006 World Champion Cardinals. Jocketty had been added by Castellini in the offseason in an advisory role, and after another poor start by the Reds, took the reins of general manager. Though the Reds were never a winning franchise under Krivsky, he is credited often with revamping the farm system and signing a good deal of young talent that could potentially lead the Reds to success in the future.
Over the years, red has been the key trim color in the Reds' on-field ensembles. However, there have been some significant deviations from this standard, as reflected by the club's recent (but now past) uniforms, which featured black as a major trim style.
The growth of McCarthyism and the advent of a new Red Scare in the 1950s gave the Reds' owners concerns that the club's traditional nickname would be seen as an association with the dreaded Red Menace. The name of the team was officially changed to the Cincinnati Redlegs and the new 1956 uniforms wiped out the REDS lettering from inside the C-REDS logo, leaving a plain wishbone C in red. The color red however, was restored to its place of pride as the sole trim color, completely eliminating the navy blue that had been used as a secondary trim color since 1935.
The other groundbreaking feature of the 1956 uniforms was the use of sleeveless jerseys, seen only once before in the Major Leagues (the 1940-1942 uniforms of the Chicago Cubs). At home and away, the cap was all-red with a white wishbone C insignia. The long-sleeved undershirts were red. The uniform was plain white with a red wishbone C logo on the left and the uniform number on the right. On the road the wishbone C was replaced by the moustachioed "Mr. Red" logo, the pillbox-hat-wearing man with a baseball for a head. The home stockings were red with six white stripes. The away stockings had only three white stripes.
In 1957, the red caps were changed for ones whose crowns matched the white or gray of the home and road uniforms; the C insignia was changed to red. The road uniform was slightly altered so that it was just like the home togs, but grey instead of white: Mr. Red was eliminated in favor of a plain red wishbone C logo.
In 1958, the home uniforms, including the caps, got red pinstripes.
In 1961, the C-REDS logo was restored to the uniforms. However, the C was smoothed over, and without its point, it could no longer be described as a wishbone C -- it was merely a C elongated into an oval shape. Navy blue returned as an accent color for the first time since 1955.
Except for the smoothed C and the restored C-REDS, this uniform style was largely the same as the preceding style. The Reds continued to wear sleeveless jerseys at home and on the road, with red undershirts. The home gear was white with red pinstripes and the road gear was grey. The home C-REDS logo included a navy blue background with the C and REDS outlined in white. The logo was similar to the that worn by the 1940 World Champion Reds. The arched CINCINNATI lettering was restored to the road jerseys. The caps bore red bills, but, as before, the crowns matched the jerseys -- white with pinstripes at home and grey away -- with a red non-wishbone C insignia. The red numbers and lettering on the caps and jerseys were outlined in navy. Another minor change was the moving of the uniform number to the left side on the away uniforms but remaining on the right at home. The stockings were plain red stirrups over white.
This uniform was worn during the Reds' 1961 appearance in the World Series, which they lost to the New York Yankees.
The Cincinnati uniform design most familiar to baseball enthusiasts is the one whose basic form, with minor variations, held sway for the 25 years from 1967 to 1992. Most significantly, the point was restored to the C insignia, making it a wishbone again.
During this era, the Reds wore all-red caps both at home and on the road. The caps bore the simple wishbone C insignia in white. The uniforms were standard short-sleeved jerseys and standard trousers -- white at home and grey on the road. The home uniform featured the Wishbone C-REDS logo in red with white type on the left breast and the uniform number in red on the right. The away uniform bore CINCINNATI in an arched block style across the front with the uniform number below on the left. Red, long-sleeved undershirts and plain red stirrups over white sanitary stockings completed the basic design.
For the first year of this design, 1967, the home uniform bore red pinstripes, but in 1968, the pinstripes were removed and did not reappear until the classic uniform style was abandoned in 1993. This was the uniform the Reds wore at their fifth appearance in the World Series in 1970, which they lost to Baltimore.
In 1972, the uniform was modified by a change to the double-knit synthetic fabric (the double-knit fabric first came into use by the Pittsburgh Pirates two years earlier). The jerseys were now pullover style instead of button down and the trousers had a built in elastic belt replacing the standard leather belt and belt loops. Slightly more trim, in the form of narrow red and white bands, was added to the V-neck line, the cuff of the short sleeve, and the elastic belt. This uniform style carried the Reds through three more World Series appearances, in 1972, 1975, and 1976, the last two ending in championships for Cincinnati.
In 1976, to celebrate the National League's 100th season, along with several other N.L. clubs--including the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the New York Mets--the Reds adopted an old-fashioned pillbox-style cap for use during nostalgia events. Unlike the Pirates and the Cardinals, the Reds did not make regular use of this cap, which featured a white crown with two encircling red stripes, a red bill, and a red wishbone C insignia. For regular wear, the Reds stuck to their all-red caps.
On St. Patrick's Day during the pre-season of 1978, the Reds wore a novelty uniform in which all the red trim was replaced with green.
In 1985, the Reds adopted an optional jersey whose base color was red, bearing the arched CINCINNATI in white with white trim stripes at the collar and cuffs. Originally, this jersey was used only during batting practice, but it came to be worn occasionally during games through the 1991 season, after which it was dropped. On at least one occasion, the Reds wore an all-red version of the away uniform during a game in San Francisco against the Giants. Also during one year in the early 1980s, the Reds sported all-white caps with a red wishbone C insignia during spring training; the white cap proved to be so unpopular, however, that it was never worn in regular games.
In 1988, an additional red stripe was added to the end of the short sleeves. In addition, the same trim now went down the pants. This version was the style worn during Cincinnati's fifth championship season in 1990.
In 1992, club owner Marge Schott announced that she was bored of the classic uniform style and wanted to bring back uniform features worn during her youth in the 1960s. During a few 1992 games, the club demonstrated the style that would become official in 1993. With the introduction of the next uniforms, the Reds were the last team (to date) to wear the pullover jerseys and beltfree trousers.
The 1993 uniforms--which did away with the pullovers and brought back button-down jerseys--kept white and gray as the base colors for the home and away uniforms, but added red pinstripes. The home jerseys were sleeveless, showing more of the red undershirts. The color scheme of the C-REDS logo on the home uniform was reversed, now red lettering on a white background. A new home cap was created that had a red bill and a white crown with red pinstripes and a red wishbone C insignia. The away uniform kept the all-red cap, but moved the uniform number to the left, to more closely match the home uniform. This style was kept unchanged through the 1998 season.
In 1998, Reds' management announced a new uniform change for the next season. The Reds marketing division decided that since black was such a popular color in the marketplace for licensed sports merchandise, that the color should be added as a significant trim color in Cincinnati.
The most obvious change in the new 1999 uniforms was featured in the caps. The Reds had last used a single cap for all purposes in 1992. Since 1993, the Reds had been using two styles of caps for home and road games. The new wardrobe included four different cap styles. The official home cap had a red crown and a black bill with a white wishbone C insignia highlighted with a black drop shadow. The official road cap was reversed, with a black crown and a red bill and a red wishbone C with white drop shadow. There was also now an "alternative" or "Sunday game" cap that was all red, and a batting practice cap that was all black.
The jerseys and trousers kept the traditional white at home and grey on the road, but all the graphics featured on the uniforms now featured fancy drop shadows. Pinstripes were kept on the home togs, but eliminated on the road version. Sleeveless vests for both, with black undershirts at home and red on the road. Home uniforms still had the C-REDS and away bore the arched CINCINNATI, but the designs featured red, white, and black in the trim.
In the next year, 2000, the undershirts were swapped, with red now for home games and black for away games.
Additionally, the number 11 of former captain Barry Larkin has not been issued since his retirement.
Televised games are seen exclusively on FSN Ohio (in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Kentucky) and FSN Indiana. George Grande, who hosted the first SportsCenter on ESPN in 1979, is the play-by-play announcer. Thom Brennaman will announce some TV games as the play-by-play announcer as well, and both Chris Welsh and Jeff Brantley will see time as the color commentator.
NBC affiliate WLWT carried Reds games from 1948–1995. Among those that have called games for WLWT include Waite Hoyt, Ray Lane, Steve Physioc, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Ken Wilson. WSTR-TV aired games from 1996-1998, and the Reds have not broadcast games over-the-air on a regular basis since then. The last over-the-air telecast of a Reds game was on opening day 2002 on CBS affiliate WKRC-TV.