Did the Cincinnati Reds Change Their Name at the Height of Anti-Communism in the U.S.?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view past baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Did the Cincinnati Reds change their name during the height of anti-Communism in the United States?

The Cincinnati Reds, taking their name from the Cincinnati Red Stockings, are baseball’s tie to the original baseball franchise, and as a result, for years, on Opening Day, the Reds would be the first team to play (a tradition since discarded).

The second team to call themselves the Red Stockings, the Red Stockings were part of the American Association until they joined the newly formed National League in 1890 (it is here that they shortened their name to the Cincinnati Reds).

The Reds were just another baseball team for the rest of the way, some success, some failure, and a couple of World Series victories along the way.

In the 1950s, though, with the fear of Communism at perhaps its highest level in the history of the United States, the Cincinnati Reds decided that their name “Reds” had far too much negative connotation.

So in 1954, the Reds officially changed their name to the Cincinnati Redlegs.

Thanks to Chris Creamer’s excellent web site, Sportslogos.net, we can see the changes that were made!

First, they changed their name and logo…



However, they kept their old uniforms…


That, too, changed in 1956, where the word “reds” was completely removed from the uniform (they went through a few different attempts at a lasting uniform during this period)…




Finally, by the time expansion came around in 1961, enough time had passed that the Reds quietly returned to their old look and their old logo, both of which they use today (well, variations of it, that is)…



But yes, for a period in time, the Reds actually changed the name of their team because of anti-Communism!

What a weird time in U.S. History.

So, sadly…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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