As we know, the Braves are the World’s Oldest Continuous professional franchise, so it was fitting that the team played an Independence Day holiday game at Ft. Bragg. Yet this was nothing new for the team, for they might have played in the first 4th of July Holiday game in organized baseball as well.
After the Old Reds collapsed the team’s players moved to two teams, the defunct Washington Olympics, an existing National Association team, and other players went on to form the Original Red [Stockings] Sox of Boston.
The games in question were a two day event played on the 3rd and then the 4th in back Cincinnati as a Holiday event game. It was billed as a reunion game for the “Old Reds” vs a hybrid team comprised of players two National Association clubs, who were not Reds.
The Old Reds team that took the field was neither an old timers team as many players were still active, although some players were no longer in baseball; nor quite an All Star team, as many who took the field that day would be considered All-Stars by current standards. [Andy Leonard, Ross Barnes, AG Spalding, Cal McVey, Harry Wright, Asa Brainard, Harry Schaffer…]
The New York Clipper of July 15, 1871 noted that the game was though entertaining, was not so skillfully played and ended in a 13 to 15 score with the Old Reds taking the loss. Given the lack of losses by the Old Reds, the fans were rather shocked with end result. Reds fans could take solace that if Hall of Fame Shortstop George Wright had played the Old Reds would have won. For those who bet on the Reds only to win would have found themselves on the list of delinquent accounts.
One of the former Reds who was now the star Washington pitcher was Asa Brainard, whose name is the traditional baseball lexicon rational for why we call the best pitcher the “Ace.”
On the fourth the two teams recombined and played another game in front of a full house of adoring baseball fans some 5000 fans including many ladies. Called the “sugar” game, it was played on a cool and breezy summer day. Behind the pitching of baseball’s new ace [AG Spalding] who outpitched baseball’s original ace [Asa Brainard], the final result was 7 to 3. “Braves win, Braves win, Braves win…” as Chip Carey used to say on TBS summers ago. The Clipper noted that the pitching on both sides was good, the catching was simply superb, the fielding was excellent, and the umpiring was of a model description, strict, impartial, and displaying sound judgement.
Thus we can say on games played to honor America and its independence the best baseball team to call on are the baseball’s oldest nine, the team we call the Braves.