Early Reds Spring Training Sites

Another tale of spring trainings genesis can be found in Reds history, some could lay claim to this being the first spring training; one thing is for certain it was the Reds first spring training and it was at the same time the White Stockings where airing it out in Arkansas.Enter Gus Schmelz manager of the Reds, who had the same idea as Anson in the late winter of 1887-1888 and approached the Reds owner proposing a team trip through Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama in an attempt to generate income for the team and prepare them for the 1888 season. After finishing in second place in 1887. Schmelz only planned on turning over 3 players from the 1887 squad.

The team made a little money on the six week trip ($76 per man) however the trip did improve the teams play that season good enough to come in with a .597 winning percentage the 4th best winning percentage in the first 58 years of the team (19th overall in team history)

But alas that was only good enough for fourth place in the league. The next spring no trip was planned.

After the trip south in 1888 the Reds kept close to home prior to each season, it was Manager Buck Ewing’s idea to change that when he and Business Manager Frank Bancroft arrange for the team to get their game in line in New Orleans in 1896 From then on the Reds could be counted on to congregate at some point prior to the season and get ready for the annual race to what most often was the bottom half of the standings. Spring Training for the Reds was held at the following sites.

* New Orleans – 1896 – 97, 1900
* Cincinnati (1901-1902)
* Augusta, Ga. (1903)
* Dallas (1904)
* Jacksonville (1905)
* San Antonio (1906)
* Marlin Springs, Texas (1907)
* St. Augustine (1908) – Cincinnati’s first trip to Florida
* Atlanta (1909)
* Hot Springs, Ark. (1910-1911)
* Columbus, Ga. (1912)
* Mobile, Ala. (1913)
* Alexandria, La. (1914-1915)
* Shreveport (1916-1917)
* Montgomery, Ala. (1918)
* Waxahachie, Texas (1919)
* Miami (1920)

As mentioned before many teams hoped to make some cash from their spring trip, for the Reds it was never more so than in 1920 following the teams first World Championship, dubious as it may be the players who achieved it wanted some payback. The Reds began a long Barnstorming trip north in Miami as the 1919 World Series champs, they scheduled 18 games in hopes of generating $72,000 in salary increase due to their success. After the glamour of Miami and the cheers of being the champs the Reds returned to Texas the following year in hope of improving on their 3rd place finish in 1920.

* Cisco, Texas (1921)
* Mineral Wells, Texas (1922)
* Orlando (1923-1930)

The Reds were in Orlando in the 20’s playing at former Reds manager Joe Tinkers field (Joe owned some land and put it to good use)the original wooden Tinker Field was built in 1923 and served as the spring-training home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1923 through 1930, It was then that former Reds manager Clark Griffith convinced the Reds to swap spring training sites for a season. The Reds would play in Tampa and the Senators in Orlando, this arrangement pleased both clubs and the trade became permanent. Orlando then was the Senators spring home for many years (and Tampa the Reds) and even after they moved west the Twins AA affiliate continued to play there.

Also hidden in this era and the Reds arrival in Florida was the rise of the southern real estate boom, as more and more teams vacated other southern locales and trained in Florida, this also was the era that fans can see the emergence of golf as the baseball player’s favorite legal hobby. How much did golf grab some of these men?

Former Reds manager Bob O’Farrell was said to care more about getting his game in than the team, his clubs sat in his office ready for any action after the days games were over…after the ninety-first game of the 1934 season he didn’t have to worry about whether he’d get that game in or not. He was able to play as much as he wanted everyday.

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