Cieradkowski: Smoke Justis: The harder they hit, the harder I threw

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at Studio Gary C on June 13, 2018:

Since I graduated from Art School, I’ve been fortunate to have lived in many far-flung areas of this country. One of the first things I liked to do upon moving to a new city was research the history of baseball in each place. In a metropolis like Baltimore or Chicago, that was very easy, since both cities have a long documented history with the game. When I took a job in Cincinnati back in the mid-1990’s, I chose to live across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky. Of course I knew about Cincinnati’s long baseball history, but what I didn’t know was that Covington, too, had a very interesting baseball past.

Since Covington is a river town, baseball came to town much earlier than other places on the east coast, traveling west with the river boats that steamed out of Pittsburgh. The game was already popular in northern Kentucky in the decade before the Civil War, and it really took off when the boys came home in 1865. While the Cincinnati Red Stockings are very well known for being (arguably) the first all-professional baseball team in 1869, the club disbanded after 1870, and the Cincinnati area was left without a professional team.

That’s when baseball-starved businessmen in Covington stepped in and founded the Covington Stars in 1875. This semi-pro team was so popular that rival businessmen across the river took notice and promptly brought pro ball back to Cincinnati in 1876. Now eclipsed by the Reds, the Covington Stars faded away, as did the city’s hopes of a professional ball team.

That is, until 1913.

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Originally published: June 14, 2018. Last Updated: June 14, 2018.