History of the Rosie Reds

In 1964, rumors were flying that the Red’s owner Bill Dewitt was contemplating moving the teams franchise to another city. He was unhappy with the sagging attendance and lack of interest on the part of the community. DeWitt also felt that parking difficulties and broadcasts both TV and radio were to blame for the lack of attendance at Crosley Field.

The city of Cincinnati became very concerned over the rumors of the Reds relocation. Cincinnati Unlimited, a civic organization affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce organized the Committee of 40. Many prominent business leaders joined this committee. These leaders represented: Procter and Gamble, Kroger Co., Frisch’s Restaurants, WCKY Radio, CG&E, General Electric, Crosley Broadcasting to name just a few. This male dominated committee comprised of 48 men and 3 women representing 40 Cincinnati businesses. Red’s owner Bill DeWitt was also on the Committee of 40, along with a few token women: Jeanette Heinz (representing WCKY), Ruth Lyons and Marge Zimmer (wife of CG&E owner).

The Committee of 40 met to discuss the lackluster attendance at Reds games, explore ways to keep the Reds in town and boost community interest. It’s ultimate goal was to grow attendance at Crosley Field to 1 million for the 1965 season.

The Committee of 40 divided themselves into subcommittees to focus on specific development opportunities, such as: corporate and civic club involvement, traffic/parking concerns and women’s participation.

One subcommittee to the Committee of 40 was quickly formed. 2 women from the Committee of 40, Jeanette Heinze and Margaret Zimmer co-chaired “The Women’s Committee for the Cincinnati Reds of Cincinnati Unlimited”. The committee met to brainstorm on how to increase women’s attendance at Crosley Field. Ideas included: Offering a package deal with dinner and a bus trip to the game; a cocktail party to kick off the Women’s Committee followed by a ballgame; including the player’s wives and families in activities; developing a mascot to go along with the “Little Red Man”; encourage the Reds to sign young, eligible, bachelor ball players; a tour of Crosley Field…. During this meeting, Hank Zureick, the Reds PR Director conducted a survey as to why women weren’t attending games at Crosley Field. Some of the feedback Hank received was: the park was located in a slum, too few seats on Opening Day, parking and safety concerns, bad concessions and inadequate bathrooms, rude men smoking cigars.

The level of enthusiasm in the Women’s Committee grew, and the “Rosie Reds” were born. The first ladies of the Rosie Reds had strong connections to the city and the Reds organization. The saying goes, “never underestimate the power of a woman.”Mary Leona McCarthy, editor for the Montgomery Reporter wrote, “If a woman’s organization is needed to help bring the pennant to Cincy next fall, I suggest that Bill DeWitt make room for the flag at Crosley Field. This one is bound to be successful.”

These ladies worked very hard. In their 1st month, they organized the committee of prominent Cincinnati ladies, developed an executive committee which included Bill DeWitt, drew up bylaws and signed incorporation papers on July 31, 1964.

The ladies organize the first social event at the Cincinnati Club to kick off the Rosie Reds, introduce key organizers and unveil Rosie to the public. The Rooters party was a dinner/dance to learn about the Rosie Reds followed by a game at Crosley Field to unveil the new Rosie mascot during the pre-game ceremony. Bus transportation was provided, all at a cost of $8.

Jan Heinze and Margaret Zimmer were very motivated to grow this new organization. Mrs. Heinze who was president of WCKY radio was quoted as saying, “Some days I don’t know who I am working for, WCKY or the Rosie Reds!”

The first membership campaign begins in October 1964. Still a “women only” organization, the Rosies take to the airwaves and newspapers to boost membership. This is an example of how broad the outreach was:

  • Releases were sent to 546 regional newspapers.
  • 200 membership posters were placed in store windows.
  • The official Rosie Reds insignia was introduced at Crosley Field.
  • 10 radio and TV spot announcements within Cincinnati and 10 radio spots outside Cincinnati.
  • 4 Radio and TV appearances by Mrs. Zimmer (who actually created the name “Rosies Reds”).
  • Membership applications were sent to 56 women’s groups.

It is marketed as a female organization, “open to all types and ages of women from all walks of life, married, singleton and divorcees!”

By January 1965, 445 members had been recruited. The first Annual luncheon and business meeting was held at the Cincinnati Gas & Electric auditorium. It was decided to extend the Charter Membership campaign through April 1965, and by May 1st there were 865 Charter Members of the Rosie Reds.

The first “Innings of Fashion” was held at Mabley & Carew, the day before Opening Day 1965. On Opening day, the 2 founders participated in the Pre-game ceremony (which continues as a tradition today), Rosie Red debuts with the Little Red Man, Cincy Red on the cover of the Reds scorecard and the journey begins.