Are the Cincinnati Reds the oldest franchise in professional baseball? The short answer is, no. But the first professional baseball team does have roots in the city of Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first-ever all-professional team in baseball. In 1869, the Red Stockings went 57-0 while also embarking on a 32-day road trip that, according to BaseballHall.org, included stops in Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco.
The Reds, however, were not formed until years later as one of the charter members of the National League. The team was later expelled from the NL, and then became a charter member of the American Association.
When did the Cincinnati Reds start playing baseball?
As far as Major League Baseball is concerned, the current Cincinnati Reds franchise is recognized as having began play in 1890, though the club was part of the American Association as early as 1882.
At the time, the NL consisted of teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cleveland Spiders, and Pittsburgh Pirates. By 1903, both the National League and the American League had eight teams and the winner of each league would play in the World Series.
While Reds fans would love to lay claim to the fact that their favorite team is the oldest franchise in major league history, that's just not the case. Two teams ahead of the Reds have bragging rights, and even those two can't agree on which team is the oldest in the history of the game.
There is debate, but most people recognize the Atlanta Braves as the oldest continually operating baseball team in the United States of America. The Braves franchise, originally referred to as the Boston Red Stockings, was established in 1871.
Chicago Cubs fans will try to defend their position as the oldest team in baseball history, but due to the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the then-White Stockings were unable to participate in any games until 1873.