The new club about which so much speculation had been indulged threw down the gauntlet at this time and defied the best clubs in the city, its first game being with the Champion Empires on May 25 (1873). This new claimant for popular favor and the State championship was composed entirely of St. Louis boys with perhaps a solitary exception. Its playing nine was composed of some ambitious and brilliant players whose careers in other clubs...had been successful enough to attract the favorable commendation of competent judges and also that of Mr. Thomas McNeary, the organizer of the Red Stocking Club, and he certainly succeded in launching a very strong aggregation, one that was destined to become an important factor not only in local but in outside baseball, for in the course of time a number of these players were drafted from this club by out and out professional organizations where they distinguished themselves in no unworthy manner.
The playing of the Reds (in their first game) gave plenty of evidence that there was no lack of good material in the nine but as yet it suffered for want of practice and when it had that and the players had become more familiar with each other's play there was great promise of a superior club. Dillon showed the elements of a great catcher. He faced hot ones unflinchingly, was adept at taking fly tips, but was weak on passing balls. "Pidge" Morgan proved a general utility man, besides holding down third base at the opening of the game he then went into short field and also pitched for two innings. Dean at first acquitted himself well up to the fifth inning when he was sorely troubled by the sun shining on his face. The others did good and creditable work.
-E. H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, January 4, 1896
Tobias' claim that the Reds first took the field in 1873 is contradicted by Al Spink in The National Game. Spink wrote that "(early) in the sixties Thomas McNeary leased a piece of ground at Compton avenue and the Missouri Pacific Railway tracks. He fitted it up for baseball purposes...Upon this field he placed a team which he called the St. Louis Reds..."