If you happen to be attending a Reds game this year and you happen to be enjoying an ice cold beer, raise your cup and give thanks to a stubborn newspaperman named Oliver Perry Caylor.
Not just for the beer mind you, but for the Cincinnati Reds.
In 1880, the Cincinnati Reds franchise of the National League was expelled for among other things, playing on Sunday and selling beer. Two major no-no’s in baseball at the time. NL President William Hulbert lowered the boom and professional baseball was no more, in the city where it all began.
But a determined newspaperman would have none of it.
Oliver Perry Caylor, or “Opie” as he was known, was a lawyer and baseball columnist for the Cincinnati Commercial. Caylor was appalled at the “outrageous proceedings” of the National League and vowed to bring a team back to the Queen City. In the spring of 1881, urged by other baseball-less cities who fell out of favor with the National League, Caylor set into motion a plan to form a new baseball franchise. What would he call this new independent team?
Why, the Cincinnati Reds of course.
You won’t find much information on these Reds of 1881. But this hastily formed squad would do battle with other blacklisted NL teams like St. Louis and Philadelphia. Large crowds came and the beer flowed. Oliver Perry Caylor saw an opportunity.
Now he just needed a league.
On November 2, 1881, a meeting was held at the Gibson Hotel in Cincinnati and the American Association was born. The league would not only allow the sale of beer, an important factor considering Cincinnati’s German heritage, but games could be played on Sunday. Two other major innovations came from the new league: winning percentage would determine the champion and permanent umpires were hired.
The Reds would post a 55-25 record in that inaugural year, winning the American Association championship with stars such as Will White, Bid McPhee, and Hick Carpenter.
Professional baseball was back in Cincinnati.
During the Association years from 1882-1889, the Reds went 549-396 winning one championship and established themselves once again as a major force in the baseball world. Following the 1889 season, the Reds franchise was granted re-admission back into the National League where they have been ever since.
Thank you Oliver Perry Caylor.