In 1871, Harry Wright took several of his Red Stockings players, as well as the team name, moved to Boston and joined the newly formed National Association. Wright’s exit from Cincinnati was contentious, but despite that he was invited back for an exhibition game in July between his former team and a “picked nine” consisting of the members of Wright’s current team and the Washington Olympics.
The Cincinnati Enquirer said the two thousand people in attendance indicated “that the interest in base-ball is not dead in this city, but only needs the stimulus of first-class games to awaken it to renewed life.”
The paper said:
“The old Reds did not have the services of George Wright (who was injured), and did not play with the skill characteristic of them in 1868-’69, which may have been due to fact that there was nothing at stake than gate money.”
Albert Spalding pitched for the “picked nine” and beat Wright’s club, with Asa Brainard pitching, 15-13. The Enquirer said former Cincinnati players Cal McVey and Charlie Gould, who both joined Wright in Boston, “have improved in their batting powers.”
Wright’s team led 10 to 4 through five innings, but the opponents posted a five-run sixth which included a home run by Davy Force and added two in the seventh and three in the eighth.
One sign that all might not have yet been forgiven in Cincinnati: while Harry Wright was listed in the box score and the inning-by-inning recap of the game, The Enquirer didn’t use his full name in any of the game advertisements or articles.
Professional baseball returned to Cincinnati in 1876 when the reds became an inaugural member of the National league.