Red's Locker Room

About This Project

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For years, I have wanted to make a miniature box focusing on the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Unfortunately, I was unable to come across an interesting story line that also involved interesting images. However, early last year, while visiting the Ohio Book Store, I came across an old, 1869, Harpers Weekly article and lithographic image of the Red Stockings being presented a presentation bat in commemoration of their 57-0 undefeated season. I finally found the right combination for my box.

The 1869 Cincinnati Club was the first professional team and had a payroll of $10,000. Prior to 1986 all of the other teams were social clubs. The Cincinnati Red Stockings club was comprised of 9 players, most of whom were from out of town, had played cricket before baseball and were under 23 years old. They played a total of 19 other clubs from across the country and averaged over 40 runs per game. The club was led by George Wright who had a .630 batting average, scored an average of 6 runs per game and hit 49 home-runs.

Cincinnati was wild with support and enthusiasm for their team. Upon their return to town on July 2, 1869, Mr. Carter Gazley, Secretary of the Cincinnati Lumber Company presented the team with a commemorative bat during a ceremony which was followed by a display game at the Union Grounds and a ceremony banquet at the Gibson Hotel.

The ash presentation bat was 27 feet long and had all nine names of the players on it.

Now the bad news - At the end of the second season, 1870, their combined record was 124- 6 -1. The magic was gone. Other clubs began paying their players, and the the ardor of the fans cooled with the losses. This resulted in lower attendance causing the team to fall on financial hard times.The club’s future became unsustainable.

My box is what I imagined the locker room may have looked like in 1869 with the Union Grounds visible down the left hall.

As with most efforts in the creative world from Rembrandt to Oldenburg and Koons my little effort was a collaborative one. I want to thank the Cincinnati Reds for their help with my research. I also want thank Janet Middlebrook for her masterful work on the Red’s uniform and Judith Bondell for her artisan creations of the leather baseball cleats, gloves and ball and Don Stephan for his woodworking skills which created the hand-turned bats.

Robert Off

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