Ten years ago, on a cold dark night, someone was killed beneath the town hall lights.

Also, exactly ten years ago today, Redleg Nation went live when I published this post. Little could I have known at the time that the Nation would still be going strong to this day. For that, I thank you, the loyal reader.

I’m in a nostalgic mood today, so please, indulge me for a few minutes. When I first began thinking about starting a Reds blog, I certainly didn’t have any grand illusions. I just wanted a place where I could write about the Reds and, more importantly, a place where fans of this team could get together to talk about the ol’ Redlegs. I could not have predicted that a community such as this one would emerge, or that we would be able to partner with ESPN and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Let’s not overstate things — this is still a dumb little fan blog — but I really do believe that we have, together, built something very special. I’m proud of this dumb little site.

Actually, the seeds of what would ultimately become Redleg Nation were sown in the days of the old Reds Listserv mailing list, created and maintained by our very own Bill Lack. I remember when I first discovered the Listserv — back in 1993, I believe — and what a revelation it had been to me. Using this newfangled invention called e-mail (am I dating myself here?), I was able to talk with other obsessed Reds fans, day and night.

I was a college kid in Charlottesville, Virginia, when I ran across the listserv. I could talk about the Reds via email with fellow fans around the world, and I tuned in to listen to Marty & Joe call Reds games at night using my GE SuperRadio. I thought this was the height of technology.

Fast forward to the next decade, and fan blogs were popping up all over the place. Red Reporter launched just about exactly a month before RN went live, but I had been reading JD Arney’s Reds Daily blog for a long time before he jumped over to SB Nation to start RR (which continues, to this day, to be an outstanding daily read). I remember emailing back and forth with JD about Reds blogging, as I was trying to decide whether to make the leap. He provided insight and encouragement, so I approached Bill Lack and Chris Garber to see if they were interested in giving this thing a shot.

Those guys enthusiastically climbed on board, and on February 28, 2005, we flipped the “ON” switch. I really only had one rule in those early days: everyone who wrote for the site was required to use their real name. No pseudonyms. I wanted writers who were willing to stand by what they wrote, rather than hide behind a fake name. I don’t know if that helped us gain some small measure of credibility early on, but it’s something that I thought was important. Other than that, however, I wanted good writers who were passionate about the Reds, and I wanted them to feel free to write about whatever tickled their fancy.

Actually, I lied. We had a second, unwritten “rule” from the beginning: we wanted to remain independent. We began as a self-hosted site, and despite our association with some big media companies over the years, we remain as independent as we were on day one. We are fans who like to analyze our favorite baseball team, and that’s how we like it. We aren’t reporters, we’re columnists, so to speak.

Anyway, if you weren’t around at the time — and very few people were — here’s what the site looked like in the old days (click to embiggen):

RedlegNationOriginal

I kinda miss that site design, actually. Not bad for a startup.

I am still amazed at the quality of writers we’ve had here. I hope my memory isn’t failing me, but very shortly after we launched, a number of other Reds Listserv members agreed to write for RN: Tom Diesman, Chris Wilson, Matt Malott, Brian Erts, Steve Price. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, and for that, I apologize. I’m an old man with failing memory, you know. Either way, I’m very happy that most of the crew from that first season is still around, contributing when they can.

Now’s as good a time to say this as any: I am indebted to the many fantastic writers who have graced the digital pages of Redleg Nation over the years, and I am in awe of the talent and enthusiasm that have been displayed by each and every one of them. I wish there had been more tangible rewards over the years for you guys, but know that you have my gratitude. I will be eternally in your debt. The Redleg Nation family — not just the writers, but all the regular readers and commenters over the years — is a great one, and I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done to make the Nation what it is.

I do want to single out Bill Lack and Chris Garber here. These guys, I’m sure, have gotten sick of receiving emails from me for ten solid years, asking for advice about anything and everything related to this site. They are busy people, with families and jobs and responsibilities, but they’ve given freely of their time to help grow and direct the site. I could not ask for better friends. Thanks, guys.

As you might remember, the early days of this site were dark times as a Reds fan. For the first five seasons of Redleg Nation’s existence, the Reds had a combined record of 377-433. Five consecutive losing seasons (nine straight, if you include the four years just prior to RN’s launch; yes, we started this site right in the middle of one of the worst stretches in the history of this storied franchise. Ugh). We followed and wrote about an honor roll of players* like Eric Milton, Brandon Claussen, William Bergolla, Dane Sardinha. DeWayne Wise, Tony Womack, Chris Michalak, Jason Johnson. Jon Coutlangus, Kirk Saarloos, Buck Coats, Ryan Jorgensen. Paul Bako, Andy Phillips, Gary Majewski, Josh Fogg. Kip Wells, Mike Lincoln, Willy Taveras, Wilkin Castillo.

*None of those guys were very successful, but we rooted for them every day, cheering for each and every one of them to do something to help our Reds win. With perhaps only one exception, these guys all played as hard as they could to help the Reds win. That’s something, right?

You know how, sometimes, fans will say that so-and-so isn’t a “true fan,” for whatever reason. Anytime we were accused of that (which was pretty much every time we disagreed with any particular decision made by Reds management), we had a perfect comeback: Hey, I wrote about the Cincinnati Reds pretty much every single day from 2005 through 2009. Only the most obsessed fan would do something as mentally draining as that.

Eventually, however, the Reds returned to glory. I’ll never forget sitting in the right field stands when Jay Bruce launched that home run to beat the Astros and clinch the NL Central Division championship for the Reds in 2010. I was proud to be a member of Redleg Nation that night.

So the Reds are in a different place as an organization than they were ten years ago. So, too, has Redleg Nation changed and evolved over the years. Bill Lack orchestrated our “Spotlight Player” program, where Reds minor leaguers such as Matt Klinker, Tucker Barnhart, Sean Buckley, and Logan Parker wrote for the site, sharing their experiences on the road to the big leagues. We also launched a podcast, which has now recorded 126 episodes (and counting). Over the years, Bill and I (mostly Bill) had the great honor of interviewing guys like Devin Mesoraco, Tom Browning, Jim Maloney, Chris Welsh, Joe Posnanski, Greg Rhodes, Barnhart, and Jesse Winker.

Milton was unhappy with Cincinnati's performance tonight. The comeback was fun for a little while, though.

Milton is occasionally unhappy with Cincinnati’s performance.

At some point, we met Milton, who would mysteriously appear at the bottom of game recaps when the Reds had played particularly poorly.

A few years ago, a wonderful crew of new writers — specifically: Jason Linden (go buy his novel), Steve Mancuso, Richard Fitch — came on board. Those guys brought a fresh perspective to the site, as well as an abundance of writing talent. They combined with us old guys to make RN stronger than it had ever been, in my opinion. Then, before last season, we launched an entirely new site design, and I handed most of the day-to-day duties of managing RN over to Steve, who has recruited some fantastic new writers into the fold. I’m not writing here as often as I once did, but I still love what this site is doing on a daily basis. (And for that, let me take a moment to single out Steve; thank you so much for the care and love you have shown in managing the site.) So yes, I’m proud of RN’s past, but I’m also excited about the Nation’s future.

I suppose that’s enough navel-gazing for one day. Let me finish by saying how much I appreciate all of you who have continued to read and comment on our nonsense, day after day, win or lose. The community that has developed here is better, more respectful, more informed, and more passionate than any other community I’ve seen on the interwebs. I don’t know how you found us (please feel free to share that information with us in the comments below), but if you didn’t keep coming back, we wouldn’t keep doing this. (Well, actually, we probably would, but that’s a different story, relating to our mental health.)

We hope to organize a Redleg Nation 10th Birthday get-together sometime this summer, so that I can meet as many of you as possible and put faces to usernames. Look for more information on that in the weeks to come, and feel free to offer your suggestions regarding logistics. In the meantime, let me say it again, from the bottom of my heart: THANKS. All of you have given me much more than I could ever repay.

Long live Redleg Nation. I love you guys.

45 Responses

  1. Tom Gray

    I’m new to the Reds blogosphere (past year or so) but enjoy your articles and give-n-take a lot.

    Lifelong Reds fan. Attended my first game in 1958. Dad had access to season tickets through work from 1960’s through 1970’s. (He retired in 1980) We had great seats at Crosley Field and Riverfront Stadium.

    For those who haven’t done it yet, a trip to spring training is well worth it. I saw the Reds train in Tampa, Plant City, and Sarasota but haven’t been to Goodyear yet.

    • bmcbaseball

      Every class that I had growing up (HS grad 2013) that I was actively on a computer I would go to Redleg Nation. Now that im finishing up my time at Brown Mackie College Salina I get to read Redleg Nation everyday to see a different prespective on the Reds.

  2. sultanofswaff

    Congratulations and THANK YOU. Redleg Nation is my first stop every day, both in-season and out.

  3. Steelerfan

    How could leave out Corey Patterson? The hours obsessing over Corey Patterson….

    Happy Birthday to the site, and a huge thank you for all the hard work that makes this such a great place to read and learn. I do not post as much any more, but living out of the market I still come here every day. Truly a great group of people who somehow manage to keep the discussions respectful and intelligent despite all the temptations to the contrary. Here is to another ten years.

  4. cfd3000

    There are too many guys to thank individually for all the fun I’ve had being a Reds fan on RLN so as a universal thanks: Thank You Chad! It’s been challenging, stimulating, comforting, confusing, maddening and gratifying to join a community of equally rabid fans in a forum with such high standards for writing, thinking, analysis and discourse. I can’t now recall how I first found RLN but I’m grateful I did. And in true RLN fashion I have two complaints / requests for the next ten years: 1) Let’s continue trying to extend transparency from writers to user names. I’ll gladly set up a new account with my real name, which I have published here before. I’m Christopher DeBlois, in Roswell, GA. 2) More diversity please. Where are the women? Where are the kids? Surely there are some of both already posting and I just wouldn’t know it. But I’ve been a Reds fan since the Big Red Machine days starting at about age 8 and you couldn’t have kept me off this site when I was a teenager. Where are all your sons and daughters, the future of Reds fandom? And more importantly, what do they think? Ladies? Youngsters? (Or to borrow from My Cousin Vinny – Youts?) Join us!!

  5. jrb6907

    Great site. I’m a daily reader. I also very much appreciate the clean language and civil dialogue. F-bombs and name calling add nothing but it seems harder and harder to avoid on the web.

  6. RedAlert

    Chad , thanks for all the hard work you do for this site and for all the great writers that contribute to the information here – as a lifelong Reds fan in NC, just awesome to have a place to converse with other Reds fans across the country – thanks again and very appreciative of this site !

  7. Nick Carrington

    Thank you Chad and Steve for the opportunity to write for the site, read all the other great writers, and interact with other Reds fans. I’ve followed the site for several years and always found it insightful. Web communities rarely engage in the kind of respectful conversations that Redleg Nation facilitates.

  8. Ted

    Happy birthday! This is a great site. Thanks for all the hard work. I don’t post often but read every day. As a lifelong Reds fan (my first game was at Crosley Field in 1960) I really enjoy and appreciate everything you do.

  9. charlottencredsfan

    Simply the best. Thanks guys for 5 memorable years and counting.

  10. Dave Fleck

    Happy 10th Birthday. I have been a loyal, daily reader for the last few years but have never posted. I saw my first Reds game in the early 60’s with my Dad and loved the team ever since. Now in Dallas for the last 13 years, I still see at least one game in Cincy every year and live and die through each season of play. I truly appreciate the time and effort put in by everyone associated with this site, writers and commenters alike. Thanks for keeping ‘my team’ current even though I am 1000 miles distant.

  11. Tom Reed

    Thank you Chad, Steve, and all the other talented writers on this blog. Nothing this good is done without a lot of time and energy expended. For an old Reds fan that goes back to the 1940’s, although I don’t remember the great Red’s team of the1939-40 seasons, Redleg Nation is a great way to start each day.

  12. Brian Van Hook

    A friend told me about Redleg Nation in 2010, and I was hooked. Every day. In-season or off-season. All the Bruuuuuuuuuces and all the boos. Thanks to everyone involved!

  13. louisvilleink

    Have been reading the site and checking it almost daily, in-season and off-season, since the inception. I guess this is the first post I’ve ever made though. I was lucky to find it in the early days when I was amazed to find such diehard Reds fans who equaled my unhealthy obsession with this oldest of professional baseball organizations. My first memories are of watching the Machine in the 70s with my Dad and I have been hooked on the Reds since. They are really the only team I can claim to be a fan of in the entire sports world because I am truly fanatical about following this team. Sometimes, such as the night they kicked the ball around against the Phillies in game two of the NLDS after building that early lead, I lose perspective for a bit before realizing how silly it is to get worked up over a sporting event. But, when I log on here I see there are others who are also deeply invested in a lifetime of following this team and I don’t feel like such a lonely fool for this temporary loss of perspective. From nights of lying in bed as a kid listening to Marty and Joe calling the action from Dodger Stadium to the current debate over Joey Votto’s hitting approach and sabermetrics, being a Reds fan has enriched my life and over these last ten years this site and its eloquent, professional and outstanding quality of writing has been a major part of my Reds fandom. For that, I thank you gentlemen greatly. Your work, a labor of love as it may be, is greatly appreciated.

  14. Littleleo1

    Thanks to Chad, Steve and all the nation contributors. This site has been a must stop for this Reds nut everyday for for the last seven years. Again thanks guys. It is good to know there are a few more Reds nuts out there

  15. Wesley Jenkins

    For the past four years, there have been two websites that I read every single day: Grantland and Redleg Nation. To now have the opportunity to write for one of those sites is beyond an honor and frankly something I don’t deserve. Immense thanks to you Chad for starting this site and building it for years and to Steve for everything he’s doing now. You maybe built an unhealthy obsession for baseball in me, but really, when has that ever hurt anyone?

  16. zaglamir

    Congrats and thanks to everyone who’s been involved in the process of making this site. I’ve been an avid reader for a few years, and will continue to be for he foreseeable future. Cheers, everyone.

  17. Chris Garber

    Thanks to Chad, Steve, Bill, Matt, Tom, Jason, Richard, Chris W, Steve P, a Brian or two, Doug, Nick, John, Preach, Sultan, and all the other writers and commenters who’ve made this site something really special over the past decade.

    I’m not around as much as I used to be — or wish I could be — but I’m still very, very proud of the site.

  18. ManuelT

    Thank you so much for all of your work.

  19. gerald

    Thanks for providing constant Reds information for all these years. Best wishes and hope for many more years of reading

  20. Matt Sehnert

    Happy Birthday!! I discovered this site almost 5 years ago and it’s become my daily go to site for reds coverage and discussion. You guys are the best!!!

  21. Vanessa Galagnara

    This is a great website. Not a fan of all the writers, but what a great place to come and talk about the reds. I have noticed that if some people on here comment or debate a writer they suddenly disappear…. I assume banned for voicing their opinions. Especially if you say anything against Joey ( he is my man so you wont ever have that problem with me). My personal opinion is nobody and no comments should be banned unless they are trolls, post nonsense that is not,about the reds, or use excessive profane language. But every reader of blogs should know that censorship is alive and well on the internet. I have political comments blocked all the time on CNN as an example. No reason to not expect it here but it does sadden me. If somebody wants to rant about something a writer put down let them! Maybe the commenter is having a bad day and they just need to blow steam no reason to ban them because you do not agree with their post. There are several guys that I used to like seeing their stupid posts but no longer show up on here. Cant tell me they all stopped commenting at the same time!

    Keep up the good work guys!

  22. BenL

    Happy Birthday! Thanks to Chad and the rest for all their hard work!

  23. Pooter

    I moved to Cincinnati in 1993 when I was 3 b/c my dad was hired as the head athletic trainer for the Reds. I have fond memories of hanging out in the clubhouse and going to spring Training every year until 2002. I’ve been a Reds’ fan my whole life, as long as I can remember.

    I found this site in 2012 driving from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Fransisco for game one of the NLDS. I was attending college at BYU at the time. On the lonesome drive, my friend Taylor told me of the site.

    I remember combing through all the articles and comments. I have been a faithful viewer of the site ever since. I rarely comment b/c I am not yet up to speed with some of the brethren here. But I love the articles, comments, and overall brotherhood shared here!

    • Tom Gray

      If you are still SLC my wife and I are moving there for retirement this spring.

      The SLC Bees have a young man named Chris Curley (from Beechwood HS in Northern Kentucky) on their 2015 roster. I bet he’s a Reds fan, too.

      • Janet

        I highly recommend going to see the Ogden Raptors or the Orem Owlz when they are playing the Billings Mustangs. I have heard that both fields are quite scenic.

  24. mikemartz

    Happy Birthday redlegnation! Thanks Chad for starting this great site! I’ve been reading the posts here daily now for several years, if I had to guess it’s been 7 or 8 years maybe more. I ran across the sites name mentioned on another baseball site, I believe it was a post from OhioJim. I have always posted using my real name (No I’m not the football coach) anyway just wanted to say thanks and keep up the great work!

  25. Carl Sayre

    Thank you to all of the writers but also the fans that comment. I am not to confrontational and I don’t use my normal language and so far you all have let me post my thoughts. My thoughts can get real far out there sometimes but I like the feedback. I have stated on here that I am an old school seat of the pants type guy and those of you who use advanced equations are a welcomed change for me. They are not going to change my mind if it doesn’t square with my “eye test” it is nice to have an advanced way to figure something.

  26. jessecuster44

    Love Redleg Nation! Thanks for all the hard work. I am much more knowledgable about my favorite team, and baseball metrics, because of the work done here. Bravo.

  27. Steven Ross

    Congrats. To be honest, really the only Reds site I check. Not easy staying current. Takes a lot of time, determination and sacrifice. You guys are the best. Now let’s get some runs.

  28. ohiojimw

    I’m not really sure how I found RedlegNation several years back; but I am glad I did.

    Thanks to everybody who contributes time and effort to make this place so interesting and worthwhile.

  29. redsfan06

    Happy birthday! To Chad and all of the writers, thank you for your efforts. I started coming to the site on occasion several years ago. Nowadays, I check it daily, hoping for a new article to read. And thanks to all of the commenters expressing their opinions and helping to make this a great site where we can share our love of Reds baseball.

  30. Nate Dunlevy (@NateDunlevy)

    Having traveled a parallel road with my favorite NFL team, I can happily tip my hat to you. Only someone who has done it knows how impossibly hard what you all have done here is. This blog is my favorite daily stop, and my top source of Reds fodder.

    You have created an excellent site of the highest quality. Be proud. This is an amazing place to root, root, root for the Redlegs.

  31. Janet

    I found this site through redsminorleagues.com because of the podcasts you have done with minor league players. I grew up with the Reds, but now I live in Pioneer League territory, so naturally I follow the Reds rookie league team, the Billings Mustangs. I love having this site to keep current on what is happening with the Reds. This is an MLB dead zone out here if it were not for the internet.

  32. doctor

    Congrats. a toast to the site, writers and fans that makes it worthwhile to come back to. (raises a cold beverage in salute, unfortunately a mountain dew as I am work)

  33. Chris Wilson

    Good post Chad. Glad to be a part of this site since its infancy. Time constraints keep me from being as big a contributor as Id like, but I’ve tried to make my old DOTF posts and game threads as entertaining as possible.

    I can actually remember a previous failed attempt at starting a blog with Chad before RN finally took off. One that nearly got me in trouble at Riverfront Stadium for trying to advertise it at a game.

  34. Matt WI

    Thanks and appreciation to all who make this thing go. Love it.

  35. lwblogger2

    Happy 10th and congratulations to the staff of Redleg Nation. I really enjoy reading the articles here and appreciate the forum to share my views with other fans.

    I don’t remember how I found the site. I think it was a few years ago when I was a regular commenter on Fay’s Enquirer blog and someone said something along the lines of “Wow, I really like what you’re saying. You should check out the posts and comment on redlegnation.com” That was 3-4 years ago now.

    I don’t comment every day but I read the site daily. The coming year will be interesting with the new writers.

  36. big5ed

    Yes, congratulations on your success.

    The beauty of this site is that it doesn’t tolerate nastiness. We are free to agreeably disagree. Let’s all keep it that way.

    • lwblogger2

      Yep, it’s the only site of it’s kind like that too.

  37. Scott D. French

    Congrats to Redleg Nation for a decade of service to Reds fans across the globe. I’ve been visiting the site nearly daily during each season since 2006. My favorite year was 2010 and the sombreros!

  38. Earl Nash

    Congratulations on ten years online.

    One thing I have noticed out of the articles and especially in game threads is how obsessed many fans get with the back end of the bench, both when they do good and bad. That said, I got a feeling this is probably true of most baseball team fan bases.

    I also liked over the years about Redleg Nation is that people that post on this site seem like people that actually watch the games and get into the details on what went down on the field instead of getting just getting into a lot of platitudes that surround modern baseball. This is true on the game threads. There is often some pretty astute things picked up both by the sites authors and posters.