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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
The Wright Brothers are a major icon in the Queen City and we're not talking about Orville and Wilber.
We're talking about Harry and George Wright.
After the Civil War, dozens of baseball clubs started up all over the country, including in Cincinnati.
"This is where professional baseball started, this is the legacy of the professional game here in Cincinnati," said Greg Rhodes, team historian for the Cincinnati Reds. "It's one of the reasons why we have this Hall of Fame and it's one of the reasons why Cincinnati has always appreciated the baseball history...all due to the 1869 Red Stockings."
At the time, ball players were not legally paid to play but when it became legal in 1869, Harry Wright, manager for the Red Stockings baseball club, searched high and low for the best talent.
"The guarantee of a salary attracted players from all over the country to Cincinnati so Harry was able to attract some of the best players including, and most importantly, his younger brother George."
George Wright was ten years younger than Harry, dubbed the best player in the country with both his shortstop and batting talents.
With Harry and George leading the way, the first professional baseball team was formed.
Players for the Cincinnati Red Stockings averaged a yearly salary of $2,000. This may not sound like much today, but in the beginnings of baseball, it was a pretty penny for one to take home.
"A typical construction worker made about $600 a year, a school principal would make a couple thousand per year," said Rhodes. "The Mayor of Cincinnati made $4,000 a year so actually the Mayor was making twice as much as the starting baseball players."
The Red Stockings dazzled fans by winning every home and away game during the 1869 season. Home games were played in a small wooden ballpark called Union Grounds, located where Union Terminal is today
"They became a national sensation because they beat all the teams in NYC, all the teams in Philly and all the teams in D.C."
From the east cost to the west coast, the Red Stockings helped popularize the new sport.
"[They] helped spread the gospel of baseball, no doubt making it a national past time."
After the season's end, the Red Stockings returned home to Cincinnati, receiving a hero's welcome for their undefeated season.
The following year, Harry and George moved to Boston and played for the Boston Red Stockings but thanks to the brother duo and the Red Stockings team, Cincinnati will forever be known as the birthplace of professional baseball.
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