Another Gem From Don Stokes: The 1888 Cincinnati Red Stockings!

Another Gem From Don Stokes: The 1888 Cincinnati Red Stockings!

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 Another Gem From Don Stokes: The 1888 Cincinnati Red Stockings!

Our resident baseball artist Don Stokes may have come through with his best effort yet, with his great colorization of the 1888 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

This team was actually a member of the American Association in 1888, which they joined when the League was formed in 1882. Led by manager Gus Schmultz, they finished fourth out of eight teams in 1888 with a record of 80-54, 11.5 games behind the pennant-winning St. Louis Browns. After the 1889 season, the Cincinnati Red Stockings joined the National League.

A couple interesting tidbits about the 1888 Cincinnati Red Stockings:

  • There’s one future Hall-of Famer, infielder Bid McPhee, who was the last second baseman to play without a glove.
  • Pitcher Lee Viau led the team with 27 wins and a 2.65 ERA in 42 starts. Tony Mullane and Mike Smith each finished with over 20 wins as well, with 26 and 22 respectively.
  • Ace pitcher Tony Mullane (284-220, 3.05 ERA) many think should be in the Hall of Fame. Known as the “Apollo of the Box,” he’s best remembered as a pitcher that could throw left-handed and right-handed, and for having one of the highest career win totals of pitchers not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • John Reilly had the best season of his career, hitting .321 while leading the league with thirteen home runs and 103 RBI, as he became the first Red Stocking to crack 100 RBI. He also had 83 stolen bases.
  • Hugh Nicol hit only .239, but once again stole over 100 bases, finishing the season with 103. Nicol and Reilly tied for the team high with 112 runs scored.
  • The Red Stockings began the season red hot, as they had a 12–5 record before winning ten games in a row to be 22–5, three games ahead of the second place St. Louis Browns, then fell into a major slump, going 5–16 in their next 21 games to fall into fourth place.

Not a lot is remembered about the American Association today, which was known as the “Beer and Whiskey League.” It survived for ten years (1882-1891) as a rival to the National League. During its existence, as many as 25 different franchises were members of the League, including such obscure teams as the Columbus Buckeyes, the Kansas City Cowboys, and the Toledo Maumees.

Here’s a little bit of information about the short-lived American Association:

“The new league established teams in what the National League leaders pejoratively called “river cities”, including Pittsburgh CincinnatiLouisville and St. Louis, with the inherent implication of lower morality or social standards in those cities. In contrast to the National League, the American Association offered cheaper ticket prices, Sunday games, and alcoholic beverages. The American Association was the world’s first professional sports league designed to out-compete another by better accommodating blue-collar tendencies and attitudes toward spectator sports.”

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: Featured photo colorized by Don Stokes:;  All from Google search

Information: Excerpts and quote edited from the 1888 Cincinnati Red Stockings Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

1 Comment

  1. Gary Livacari · December 6, 2017 Reply

    Thanks to our reader KenS. for pointing out some misidentifications of some of the teams in the photo gallery. I’ve updated the gallery and believe the identifications are accurate. If anyone notices other misidentifications, please let us know.

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