WTF Fun Fact 13550 – The Cincinnati Redlegs

In the early 1950s, the Cincinnati Reds became the Cincinnati Redlegs after the team found their name entangled in the political tensions of the era.

As America’s fear of communism grew, particularly during the Korean War, the Reds decided to change their name to the Cincinnati Redlegs between 1953 and 1959. This decision wasn’t about sports; it was a move to distance the team from any communist associations, a concern amplified by the rise of McCarthyism.

Historical Roots and Political Pressures

The original name, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, dates back to 1869, becoming the Reds in 1881. However, the post-World War II era marked a period of heightened suspicion towards communism, often referred to as “The Red Scare.”

Senator Joseph McCarthy’s public witch hunts for communist sympathizers cast a shadow of fear across America. The term “Reds” became uncomfortably close to “Reds,” a common term for communists.

To avoid unwanted connections, the team opted for “Redlegs,” a nod to its historical roots and a safe distance from political controversy.

The Cincinnati Redlegs and Uniform Changes

During this period, some of the team’s most celebrated players, including Frank Robinson and Joe Nuxhall, played under the Redlegs banner. Despite the official name change, the team’s jerseys still sported the word “Reds,” and fans and media often continued to refer to them by their original name.

In 1956, an attempt to further avoid the “Reds” association led to jersey modifications, including a season featuring a Mr. Redlegs logo. However, these changes were short-lived.

Senator McCarthy’s influence dwindled following his senate censure in 1954 and his subsequent death in 1957. With the decline of McCarthyism, the climate of fear surrounding communism receded. By 1959, the team reclaimed its original name, the Cincinnati Reds.

The word “Reds” reappeared on their uniforms in 1961, a year marking their return to the postseason as National League pennant winners. Interestingly, the team experienced limited success as the Redlegs, with only two winning seasons during this period.

Reflections on the Reds’ Name Change

The story of the Reds becoming the Redlegs is a fascinating example of how sports can intersect with politics. It reflects a time when fear and suspicion influenced various aspects of American life, including the world of baseball. The Reds’ decision to change their name was a response to the prevailing political climate, a move to safeguard the team’s image amid national paranoia.

While the Redlegs name was relatively short-lived, it remains an interesting chapter in the team’s history. It signifies how external factors can impact sports teams and their identities. The era also reminds us of the power of names and symbols in representing and reflecting societal values and concerns.

Today, the Cincinnati Reds are firmly established with their original name, with the “Redlegs” period serving as a historical footnote. The team continues to build upon its rich history, contributing to the dynamic world of baseball while staying clear of political controversies that once led to a significant, if temporary, identity change.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “How the Reds became the Redlegs” —

WTF Fun Fact 12433 – Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, is named after the Roman statesman and general Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.

After serving as Roman consul (the highest elected position) in the 5th century BCE, he retired to his farm.

In 458 BCE, the Aequi people broke a treaty with Rome and launched an invasion in the city of Tusculum. Rome raised two armies to fight them off, but the consuls at the time were unable to get an advantage over the invaders. The Roman army was surrounded.

In times like this, the Roman Senate was entitled to appoint a “dictator” for a 6-month term. This man would have ultimate power over political affairs and the armies. Remembering that Cincinnatus was a great general and consul, a group of senators traveled to his farm and asked him to become dictator until the crisis was over.

As the historian Livy describes it, Cincinnatus called for his toga (the proper attire to meet with Roman leadership), wiped off the sweat and dirt, put down his plow, and finally agreed to the request – but it took some convincing. He eventually agreed for the good of Rome.

Cincinnatus took over the army and led to Romans to a swift victory. He returned to the city as a hero and could have lived a life of luxury and power. However, immediately afterward, he relinquished the title of dictator, returned to his farm, and picked up his plow in the very same place he left it.

He was in power for 15 full days, retiring on the 16th day.

Cincinnatus is held up as a paragon of civic virtue. US President George Washington, who also could have maintained absolute power but put it aside in favor of the new Constitution, is referred to as The American Cincinnatus. – WTF fun facts 

Source: “Our history: Who was Cincinnatus, inspiration for city’s name?” —