The Reds began the 1900 season with the oldest tradition in professional baseball, dating back to 1869. Their uniforms were basically a continuation of the 1890s, white at home, and dark, musty blue on the road. The caps were the standard close-fitting round style with a short bill. Red piping was used on the seams leading up to the red top button and around the base of the crown. A red "C" was also added to the front of the cap around 1900. The home uniform in the first decade of the 1900s was always white and displayed either "CINCINNATI" or variations of a capital "C" on the left breast - a precursor of the standard emblem of future decades. On the road, the city name "CINCINNATI" was continued on the chest in red capital letters on the gray or blue uniforms.
The team's first World Championship in 1919 (tainted by the infamous "Black Sox" scandal) must have convinced club management that they had a "winning" year. The uniforms for most Major League teams during the "roaring twenties" were, likewise, generally plain and conservative. Oddly enough, it took a stock market crash and the onset of a prolonged depression to trigger a new flurry of ideas and colorful innovations in baseball uniforms.
By 1936, the predominance of the color red on the uniform trimmings had given way to equal billing for navy blue. The cap bill, the undersweaters, the sox, and even the C-REDS logo incorporated navy. The overall appearance was brighter, in keeping with the multi-color trimmings of many of the other club uniforms. This inclusion of navy blue was to remain an integral part of the color scheme for the next twenty years.
This orgy of new graphics and extra color trimmings peaked out by 1938. The "CINCINNATI" on the road grays was still done in fancy-style block letters, but the socks were no longer multi-striped and the piping trim was somewhat toned down. The white or gray cap crown was replaced by solid navy with a red bill and a red "wishbone C."
Could the superstition of once again not wanting to alter a "winner" be the reason why this basic uniform motif remained unchanged for the next 16 years? A second and third pennant in 1939-40, plus a "bon afide" World Series Championship in '40, would lend credence to this supposition. This long run of stable, conservative uniforms climaxed in the early fifties. The navy blue on the socks and sweaters was gone and the combination red and navy cap was replaced by your basic solid navy cap. The pendulum of design was ready to wing back to something more adventurous.
The most novel feature (not a first - the Cubs were the originals in 1940) was the sleeveless vest jersey. The stockings were still red, but with narrow white stripes. The caps were solid red with a white "wishbone C" and even the belts were red. The undershirt sleeves were solid red (when not cut off at the shoulder a la Ted Kluszewski). The gray road uniforms were identical to the home whites except for the baseball head cartoon face ("Old Red") which replaced the wishbone C on the left breast. The sleeveless vest won approval from the players (the Pirates "followed suit" in '57) and remained a uniform feature until the mid-60s.
By the mid sixties, a couple of future Cincinnati legends had arrived (Pete Rose and Johnny Bench) and the nucleus of the future Big Red Machine had its beginnings. The sleeveless jersey was displaced by a conventional short sleeved model, and navy blue once again was eliminated as a second color. The gray road uniform was basically a revival of the early fifties, except the cap was now solid red instead of navy, and a uniform number appeared on the jersey front. The first years of the revival of the short-sleeved home jersey retained the red pinstripes but, by 1970, (Sparky Anderson's first pennant winner and the inaugural season of Riverfront Stadium) the home uniform was plain white.
For 1972, Cincinnati joined the rest of the majors in adopting the new double-knit fabric uniform with its revolutionary features. Lighter, cooler, more comfortable and easier to clean - it was the uniform of the future - and the future for Cincinnati baseball spelled glory and championships.
The famous C-REDS emblem was retained as was the all-red trim motif. But with the new built-in sash belt and pull-over jersey, buttons and belts were no longer needed. Red and white striping trim was added to the sleeve ends and collar as well as on the new sash belt.
The Reds continued their basic white uniform through most of the 1980s, although in 1986, added an optional solid red jersey with "CINCINNATI" spelled out. The Reds added stripes down both sides of the trousers in 1988, and this would be the look for the next several years, including the 1990 World Championship club.
In 1993 the Reds introduced a new uniform style that harkened back to styles not worn by the club since the 1960s. The pullover jerseys of the previous 20 years were replaced by buttoned-down, pinstriped models. Pinstripes appeared on both home and road uniforms for the first time since 1929, and the vests worn at home were the first sleeveless jerseys worn by the Reds since the 1966 season. A "C-Reds" logo appeared on the left of the front side of the home jersey with the player's number adorning the right. The traditional "Cincinnati" lettering was retained on the front of the road jerseys. The home caps sported pinstripes as well with red stripes set against a white backdrop while the road caps did not change from the previous design. A special patch adorned the 1994 uniforms marking the 125th anniversary of the 1869 Red Stockings, baseball's first all-professional club.
The Reds would not make another major uniform change until the 1999 season. The addition of black to the uniform was the most distinctive change. Black was added as a drop-shadow to the traditional "C-LOG", and was also featured on the bill of the home cap (solid red with a white wishbone C and black drop shadow), and as the base color for the road cap (red bill with a white wishbone C and black drop shadow).
For the 2000 season, the Reds replaced the "Running Man" logo on the left sleeve of the undershirt with a new "Running Man" logo that incorporated the anniversary of the club's 10th and 25th World Series titles.