On May 1, 1878, according to “This Day in Baseball” (Nemec-Flatow), Cincinnati Reds catcher Deacon White and his rookie brother, Will White, become the first brother catcher-pitcher battery in professional baseball history. The Reds beat the Milwaukee Grays on this day, 6-4.

The 1878 Reds (37-23) finished second that year to the Boston Red Caps (41-19). Deacon White was the team leader in batting average (.314) and his 677 OPS was good for a 132 OPS+ rating. Deacon, whom remains an old-timers’ candidate for the Hall of Fame, played from 1871 through 1890 at age 42. He played three seasons for the Reds.

However, younger brother Will became one of the all-time great Reds. He went 30-21 in his rookie season with a 1.79 ERA (ERA+ of 119). He had three 40-win seasons (also lost 42 one year), and finished his career with a 229-166 record (227-163 with the Reds).

Yes, there was HAVOC…The 1878 Reds had many stars: the White brothers, outfielders Charley Jones and Lip Pike, 3B Cal McVey, and OF-C King Kelly, who was destined to be immortalized in song. “Slide, Kelly, Slide” was written about him for his aggressive baserunning tactics.

In fact, Kelly produced so much havoc in Cincinnati that he came up with his own professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, in 1891. They played in the American Association and were formed to compete with the Reds National League franchise.

We all know the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first acknowledged professional baseball team, playing their first “season” in 1869. However, the Reds are not the longest continuing major league baseball team. That honor belongs to the Braves. The Reds team was expelled from baseball after the 1880 season for selling beer on Sundays. Cincinnati was admitted to the American Association in 1882 and then became a power house in that major league (finishing 1st once and twice third in eight seasons) before joining the National League for good in 1890.

4 Responses

  1. Chad Dotson

    Fantastic stuff, Steve. There are a million great stories in the history of this franchise. Keep reminding us!

  2. Glenn

    I love the read the historical stuff. Good job Steve. Keep it coming.

  3. daedalus

    i’ve always thought that “longest running franchise” thing about the braves was kind of b.s. since they’ve played in three different cities.