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New History On The Reds Will Hit A Home Run With Fans

University of Cincinnati sports researcher Kevin Grace delves into the first half of the 20th century as he writes about his favorite era of baseball. He writes that while the Reds were an average team on the field in those decades, they developed a management vision that defined how the game is played today.

Date: 6/15/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Bookcover from Arcadia Publishing

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In an era that began with visiting teams driven to the ballpark in a horse-drawn bus, the Cincinnati Reds were the first to:

Yet, over those five decades, they appeared in only three World Series matchups, and one of their two championships was tainted by the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal.


Sports researcher Kevin Grace, UC head of archives and rare books and adjunct assistant professor for the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), contributes another volume to his collection with Arcadia Publishing with the June 20 release of The Cincinnati Reds: 1900-1950. The book is a fitting companion piece to Grace’s first photographic history of the team, The Cincinnati Reds: 1950-1985, released last summer.

Grace includes nearly 200 rare and never-before-seen photos of the Reds from both his personal collections and from photos housed in UC’s Archives and Rare Books Library for the new social history that explores a period when the nation “truly embraced baseball as the national pastime.” The book shows how the social heritage of a community is influenced by sports and the people who are involved. That included Reds owner Garry Herrmann, the “Father of the World Series.”

“The team was average during this era, but because of Garry Herrmann in particular, they had a tremendous influence on how baseball developed, since he was the chairman of the national commission that governed the major leagues. Herrmann was instrumental in starting the World Series, he experimented with night baseball, and in 1911, he signed two Cuban players to the Reds at a time when African Americans were still banned from playing on white professional teams,” Grace says.

Grace writes that the lighting for the first modern night game in 1935, which first illuminated professional teams on Crosley Field, was designed by Earl Payne, an employee for CG&E and a graduate of the UC College of Engineering who first learned lighting during his UC co-op experience with General Electric. It was a Depression Era event so ceremonial it involved the president of the United States. “To start the game, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent a telegraph signal to the field and then Larry MacPhail, the Reds general manager, threw the switch,” Grace says. “It was a huge deal during the Depression, as the event not only created a novelty but also gave people the chance to come and see a game at night, since they were working during the day.”

Grace adds that initially, team owners were not very illuminated by the concept of playing games after dark. In fact, Grace says Garry Herrmann developed a plan for night baseball in 1909, but then decided against a night exhibition game between the Reds and the Phillies. Instead, two Cincinnati local Elks teams gave night baseball a try and Grace says Herrmann then dropped the idea at that time.

 “In the 1930s, there was a lot of debate over whether or not night games would kill baseball, so the Reds were only allowed to hold seven night games when they first started them in 1935,” Grace says. “But their attendance was incredibly high compared with the day games, so that set things in motion for modern baseball.”

Other UC connections to the Reds during this era include photos of “Mighty Mite” Miller Huggins, who was struggling through the UC College of Law at the same time he was playing for the UC baseball team and for minor league baseball. He played for the Reds from 1904-1909. “He eventually earned his law degree from UC and so he insisted on a say in his own contract when Garry Herrmann bought it from St. Paul in the minor leagues,” Grace says. “Huggins went on to become the manager of the Yankees in the 20s, when they began winning championships with Babe Ruth.”

The book also holds the 1926 photo of the captain of the UC baseball team, Ethan Allen, the “dark-haired Apollo” who had a 13-year career with the Reds and later coached George Bush Sr. at Yale.

It was an era that began with fans making the trip to the “Palace of the Fans” in the West End, evolving into Redland Field and then into Crosley Field, which closed when the Reds moved to the new Riverfront Stadium in 1970.

The Cincinnati Reds: 1900-1950, costs $19.99 and will be available for sale beginning June 20 in Borders, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Barnes & Noble, the UC Bookstore and other local bookstores. A book-signing will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Barnes & Noble in West Chester.


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