CINCINNATI -- The Reds have the distinction of not only being baseball's first professional franchise, they are also the oldest team and brand in all of pro sports.That's not something the team or Cincinnati takes lightly, and the Reds underscored the value of their long tradition on Monday by unveiling
CINCINNATI -- The Reds have the distinction of not only being baseball's first professional franchise, they are also the oldest team and brand in all of pro sports.
That's not something the team or Cincinnati takes lightly, and the Reds underscored the value of their long tradition on Monday by unveiling plans for the 150th anniversary season during a party at Great American Ball Park.
"When you have 150 years of history, you don't do it in one day and you don't do the planning in a couple of weeks," Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said. "The planning has been going on since as far back as the year or two after buying the team [in 2006]."
The Cincinnati Red Stockings started in 1869.
"It was the first team that ever paid all of its players. Naturally this attracted the best players from across the country to sign with Cincinnati. In 1869, the inaugural season ended with 57 wins and no losses, taking the country by storm," Reds CEO Bob Castellini said before turning a quick joke during the special unveiling. "I am so jealous.
"The Red Stockings' success made baseball famous and Cincinnati along with it. Our shared notoriety permanently paired this city with its baseball team in the eyes of the nation and the hearts of the fans. One-hundred-and-fifty years later, baseball remains the core to our identity as a city and a treasured tradition with the thousands of families who have been Reds fans for almost eight generations now."
What will the fans see during the 150th season of the Reds? For starters, uniforms -- lots and lots of uniforms. The team plans to wear a total of 15 different looks from the franchise's history, beginning May 4, which is the date of the first Red Stockings game in 1869. The uniforms will be worn on select days over the rest of the season.
"We wanted to land on significant dates as well as cool uniforms that were different," Phil Castellini said. "I just didn't want to see a sea of white ones and gray ones. That's why we picked the blue and the red pants and the scripts and different logos. It really was a nice way to spread those history nuggets that go from the turn of the century all the way to the '90s."
The team's current regular uniform and caps will also sport special 150th-anniversary logo patches.
Other celebration plans also include:
• There will be 150th-anniversary benches displayed at more than 20 locations across greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. They were designed to mimic dugout benches and feature the Mr. Redlegs mascot wearing each of the 15 different throwback uniforms.
• A party, called "Reds Rockin' 150 Open House," will feature former players and all current players and be held on July 5. Admission is free to all fans and they will be able to explore GABP with entertainment, food, interactive games and fireworks.
"It was kind of a no-brainer," Phil Castellini said. "We could have a big black-tie gala and one percent of the fans come vs. a party that's free and everyone can come to that's a couple of hours long and check out parts of the ballpark you've never seen before, and be entertained with music on the field and fireworks at the end. What better way to take that holiday weekend a little longer?"
• The Reds Hall of Fame is undergoing a renovation that will remake the entire 16,000-square feet of space. The museum is currently closed and will re-open with its new look in March.
• A new structure, called the 1869 Pavilion, will be erected adjacent to the Hall of Fame and be open to the public. The crown of the gazebo will feature the likenesses of the starting nine players from the inaugural Red Stockings lineup.
• The Reds Community will also create two other legacy projects by doing two field renovations that were designed to look like the original Palace of the Fans ballpark the Reds used from 1902-11. The renovated fields will be at Ross Park in St. Bernard, Ohio, and at the Bellevue Vets complex in northern Kentucky.
"We really tried to weave it all together," Phil Castellini said of all the elements that were created to make the 150th anniversary season special for the Reds and their fans.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.