A Harper’s Weekly drawing of a game between the Red Stockings and the Brooklyn Atlantics. New York Public Library.

Robert Wyss, University of Connecticut

This Major League Baseball season, fans may notice a patch on the players’ uniforms that reads “MLB 150.”

The logo commemorates the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who, in 1869, became the first professional baseball team – and went on to win an unprecedented 81 straight games.

As the league’s first openly salaried club, the Red Stockings made professionalism – which had been previously frowned upon – acceptable to the American public.

But the winning streak was just as pivotal.

“This did not just make the city famous,” John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, said in an interview for this article. “It made baseball famous.”

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