Major League Baseball and the Cincinnati Reds Turn 150... or Do They?

Major League Baseball and the Cincinnati Reds Turn 150... or Do They?

Baseball returned on March 28th as all 30 Major League teams took the field beneath the blue, white, and red Opening Day bunting. It's always a celebratory occasion, but this year there is some additional meaning: 2019 marks the 150th year of professional baseball. Way back in 1869 the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first "full-salaried" team, as MLB puts it. 

Cincinnati is always a focal point of Opening Day because of its role in the game's founding. They get a prime-time day game, and there is a pre-game parade, usually attended by the league commissioner. There will also be some season-long celebrations. The Reds will wear 15 throwback uniforms this season, which has to be a record, and will also have a unique commemorative patch. All other teams will wear a "MLB 150" patch.

The league's move in claiming the sesquicentennial is actually a bit deceiving – Major League Baseball has technically only been around since 1903. If you go with the National League, formed as its own entity but now part of MLB, you could consider the founding year to be 1876, 143 years ago. The anniversary that is being celebrated this year is not technically MLB's. But this is not a new thing, as they did celebrate the 100th and 125th anniversaries of professional baseball as their own as well.

If we're being really factual, today's Reds franchise is also not technically playing their 150th season of professional ball. The team that was formed 150 years ago, the Red Stockings, disbanded before the 1871 season as they felt they could no longer pay for a professional side. A second Cincinnati team, the Reds, formed in 1876 as a charter member of the National League. This iteration would only last three seasons. That Reds' owner allowed use of the ballpark on Sundays and also served beer, two things the NL brass did not approve of. The Reds, refusing to budge, were tossed from the league. The third go, founded in 1881 as the Red Stockings, was the one that stuck. 

It's all a bit confusing, and, yes, you can accuse me of nitpicking, but there you have it: neither the current-day Reds nor Major League Baseball have been around for 150 years. That being said, you can see why both establishments would celebrate the occasion. MLB is the highest level of the professional game so to mark year one, regardless of who was involved, makes sense. The Reds use the same name as their predecessor and still play in the same city, so why not? 

The bigger issue is in the execution. Instead of saying "MLB 150" perhaps the league-wide anniversary patch could say "Pro Baseball 150." And for the Reds, the patch checks out, but most of the retro uniforms they'll be wearing would actually be better suited to the current franchise's 150th in 2031, since the Cincinnati team that played from 1869 to 1871 never wore them... The throwback to the 1869 uniform is, however, one that works this year. 

I suppose it's better to remember the past incorrectly than to forget it all together. The baseball season gets gussied up a bit in the process, and the celebrations have been fun thus far, that's not the point of contention. But, going forward, for the sake of us super nerds – accuracy please! 

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