Originally Posted by Dan
I've also heard that the Reds weren't actually the first professional baseball team, but the first team that publically stated it paid its players. Any truth to that?
Yes. Back in the 1860s baseball clung to an amateuristic ideal much like the Olympics. It was actually against the rules until 1868 to have professionals on the team. Of course that didn't stop players from being paid under the table. Several teams had players who worked for an organization who sponsored the team. Tamany Hall in NYC was notorious for doing this. They would obstensibly have occupations such as firefighter or clerk or whatever but were paid solely on how they played baseball. Then the organization that all the teams belonged to just dispensed with all pretenses of amateurism altogether and basically said if you want to pay your players, that's OK. But prevailing sentiment in the world looked down at people who played a game for money so a lot of teams - while continuing to pay their players - said they were really amateurs. Aaron Champion of the Cincinnati Base Ball Club devised the idea to just be open about it and pay players outright. The 1869 Red Stockings had many fine players on it but all were not the best money could buy. The players were expected to practice almost every day there wasn't a game (unless it was Sunday) because playing baseball was their job.
WOY, I think the Cubs/White Stockings were disbanded for a year in the early 1870s.