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Established in 1881, the Cincinnati Reds have been a staple of the National League for more than 125 years. In that time, there have been a number different phases of team history. The team survived rocky years at the beginning as the MLB was just beginning to form. Changing leagues over the years, Cincinnati kept themselves relevant and eventually earned a spot in Major League Baseball’s National League.
Winners of five World Series titles, their first came in 1919 against the Chicago White Sox. This famous series is best remembered for the “Black Sox” scandal, taking away from the exuberance of their first championship. Cincinnati would not earn another World Series title until 1940 when they would beat the Detroit Tigers in a seven game series.
The following years took their toll on the Reds. Between an aging roster and World War II, the Reds spent many seasons trying to get back to the top of the standings. 1956 Rookie of the Year Frank Robinson swooped in to give a boost to the franchise. His 10 years in Cincy proved fruitful. By the time he departed for Baltimore, the Reds were on the verge of returning to greatness, with some of the more legendary Reds of all time coming up through their farm club.
The 1970s were a decade of incredible baseball in Cincinnati. The Big Red Machine was firing on all cylinders with an incredible roster featuring Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, and Joe Morgan. Four World Series appearances and two victories (in 1975 and 1976) goes to show just how dominant of a team the Cincinnati Reds were during this time period.
The highs of the 1970s could not last forever, and the end of the decade ultimately saw the powerhouse team dismantled, with talented players moving on to join other teams. The Cincinnati Reds management spent the 1980s trying to recreate the magic, but none of their moves proved to make a big splash and the Reds of the 80s are mostly remembered for Pete Rose being banned from baseball for life over gambling and the controversies surrounding owner Marge Schott.
General Manager Murray Cook used these negative stories as a smoke screen as he quietly put together a winning team behind the scenes. The result of his hard work was a team that went on a surprising championship run in 1990 under manager Lou Pinella. A talented roster featuring Barry Larkin, Paul O’Neill, Eric Davis, and Chris Sabo ended up sweeping the Oakland Athletics despite being looked at as a major underdog.
Barry Larkin went on to become the face of the franchise, compiling a 20 year career in Cincinnati on his way to becoming a baseball Hall of Famer. Reds fans remember this former captain for his immense skills on both offense and defense.
Manager Bryan Price is trying to bring this team back to greatness. After a disappointing 2016 campaign which saw Cincinnati end up with a record of 68-94, there is a lot of work to be done. The lone bright spot was the induction of Ken Griffey Jr. into the MLB Hall of Fame. The young core of this current team does lead to an optimistic outlook. Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips are holding down the fort at short stop and second base respectively as Joey Votto continues to lead the team from first base. Utility player Jose Peraza proved he is worthy of playing in the big leagues, but has yet to crack into the lineup as a starter as the position players are set. Strong pitching will be the key for this NL Central team. Click here to learn more about the Cincinnati Reds franchise.