Armour: Celebrating baseball’s centennial 50 years ago

From SABR member Mark Armour at The Hardball Times on May 20, 2019:

If you have been paying close attention, you may have noticed baseball is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the sport’s first professional team – the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Claims of baseball “firsts” often wither away if you look too closely, but the Cincinnati story holds up well enough to allow a bit of celebrating. Throughout this season, all major league players are wearing a special uniform patch, and the Reds are planning several events to mark the anniversary.

It might seem odd that MLB is honoring what was essentially a barnstorming team, a team that has no real connection to the existing business. The start of the National League in 1876 seems much more appropriate, both in terms of its solid historical footing and its firmer place in the genealogy. But, honestly, who doesn’t love a party?

If you want to find a bigger celebration, you could go back 50 years, to professional baseball’s “centennial.” Unlike the subtle nodding going on today, in 1969, baseball pulled out all the stops, at least partly because the sport was going through a bit of a rough patch.

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Originally published: May 20, 2019. Last Updated: May 20, 2019.