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Lecture series at Museum Center explores the history of baseball in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – No sports fans know their history better than baseball fans. But despite the encyclopedic knowledge of hits, strikeouts, championships and jersey numbers there’s still so much to learn about America’s pastime and its impact over more than 150 years of its existence. Cincinnati Museum Center is hosting a lecture series all about baseball that will dig deeper into the game we love. Join us for lectures on April 23, May 7 and June 18 at Cincinnati Museum Center.

professional baseball in CincinnatiOn April 23, join Greg Rhodes, executive director of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and Cincinnati Reds team historian, as he discusses how the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings revolutionized professional sports. 1869 was a season of firsts for professional baseball. A change in the rules in 1869 allowed clubs to employ professional players for the first time but Cincinnati was the only club to take advantage of the opportunity. The Red Stockings were the first team to play coast to coast and the only team to go undefeated in a season, defeating every opponent and finishing the season with a record of 57-0. The Red Stockings broadened the popularity of the game and established the superiority of the professional system. Two years later, the first professional league formed and professional sports teams have been a part of the American landscape ever since.

Dr. Eric R. Jackson of Northern Kentucky University explores how the Negro Leagues impacted the African American community during his lecture on May 7. African Americans had been playing professional baseball for more than 20 years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball in 1947. Hundreds of players thrilled thousands of African American fans from the 1920s through 1940s. Negro League players rivaled the talent of those white players in the Major Leagues, forcing conversations about sports to begin to address issues of race and equality.

Just as the players themselves have shaped the game of baseball and American society, so, too, have the ballparks where the game is played. On June 18, John D. Fairfield of Xavier University examines the impact that ballparks have had on the urban landscape, state of civil life and environmental practice over the past 100 years. The classic ballparks built between 1909 and 1923, like Cincinnati’s own Redland/Crosley Field, promoted civic consciousness by accommodating public ritual and responding to the surrounding city. Just 50 years later, all but two of these parks succumbed to the wrecking ball as new stadiums were built in the 1960s and 1970s. This new wave of ballparks tended to shut out the city or leave it altogether, reflecting the mid-century decline of our older cities. Since 1989 a third great wave of ballpark construction has reengaged the city. Professor Fairfield discusses these three great waves of ballpark construction and the role of ballparks in the life of the city.

And don’t miss our free exhibit Queen City Baseball: Diamonds and Stars. From the mustaches of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings to the dominance of the Big Red Machine, Queen City Baseball tells the history of Cincinnati baseball, both professional and amateur. View 19th century players’ contracts, bricks and seats from Crosley Field, newsreel footage from the 1919 World Series, the Negro League contract of Louis Dula, baseballs signed by all-time greats like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle and much more.

7 p.m., Thursday, April 23
Baseball Revolution: The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Birth of the Professional Game
Lecturer: Greg Rhodes, Executive Director, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and Cincinnati Reds team historian

7 p.m., Thursday, May 7
Invisible Baseball Players: Life of Baseball’s Negro League Ball Players – A Snapshot
Lecturer: Dr. Eric R. Jackson, Associate Professor and Director, Black Studies Program, Department of History and Geography, Northern Kentucky University and Editorial Board and Book Review Editor, Journal of Pan African Studies

7 p.m., Thursday, June 18
The Civic and Environmental Aspects of Baseball Landscapes
Lecturer: Professor John D. Fairfield, Professor of History at Xavier University

To register for a lecture please call (513) 287-7001. Visit for more information.