On June 1, 1869, the first game ever played by a professional baseball team was played when the Cincinnati Red Stockings beat the Mansfield Independents, 48-14. (Professional defined as all paid players, no amateurs. Total salary was about $11,000.) In 1876, the National League is formed in New York City and the Red Stockings are a charter member. The Reds, along with the Cubs are the only original teams that remain in the NL today. However, in 1880, the Red Stockings are expelled from the League for selling beer in the ballpark, but they would return in 1890.
There were several great moments throughout the early 20th century including in 1921 a great game between the Chicago Cubs and the Red Stockings where both pitchers threw a no-hitter which was broken in extra innings and the Reds won the game. Also in 1919, Cincinnati wins its first World Championship by defeating the Chicago White Sox, 5-3 in a contested World Series.
The Great Depression brought hard times to the Reds as its owner, Sidney Weil was forced to sell the team to Powel Crosley who renamed the park, "Crosley Field." The first night game in Major League history is played here, May 24, 1935 when the Reds beat the the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1939, the Reds lost the World Series to New York Yankees but in 1940, defeated the Detroit Tigers win another championship.
Throughout the 40's and 50's the Reds continued to change and grow with the times. In 1954, the first African-American Red, Chuck Harmon played his first game. This was only 7 years after Jackie Robinson entered the Major Leagues.
In 1961, the "Ragamuffind Reds" win their last pennant at Crosley Field. The Ragamuffins were lead by Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson. In 1963, Pete Rose joined the team, eventually becoming the first Red to earn over $100,000. The new Riverfront Stadium opens in 1972, which proves a successful year as the team wins the World Championship and the following year, the Big Red Machine, under Sparky Anderson wins another Series. The Reds lead the Major leagues in runs scored, doubles, triples, home runs, batting average, slugging average, stolen bases, fewest errors, fielding percentage and saves, something that has never been matched. 1
1985 signifies a new change when Marge Schott is named club President and Chief Executive Officer.2 The team struggles throughout the 80's until 1990 when they win the Championship again, pulling off perhaps the biggest upset ever in Series history.
In 1996 some other important events take place. Opening Day is postponed when the home plate umpire dies on the field. Also the Reds retire their first numbers, Fred Hutchinson (#1) and Johnny Bench (#5). The Reds would retire 3 other numbers (Joe Morgan (#8), Frank Robinson (#20), and Tony Perez (#24)).
In 1999 the era of Schott is over when the owners approve the sale to Carl H. Linder and in 2000 the Reds acquire Ken Griffey, Jr.
1. Taken from http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/cin/history/cin_history_timeline.jsp?period=5
The rest of the information is taken from www.mlb.com and cincinnati.reds.mlb.com