November 29, 1971: The Reds trade Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister.

The trade proves to be the best in club history, but it brought an overwhelmingly negative response when it was first announced. “if the US traded Dwight Eisenhower to the Germans during WWII, it wouldn’t have been much different than sending Mays and Helms to Houston,” wrote Bob Hertzel in the Cincinnati Enquirer. But the impressive blend of offense, speed, defense, and pitching acquired in the trade silenced the critics. Morgon won two MVP awards and is in the HOF. Billingham, a distant cousin of Christy Mathewson, was 87-63 with a 3.85 ERA in 6 seasons with the Reds. Geronimo provided Gold Glove defense in CF, and Menke anchored 3rd base for two seasons.

All “Reds trivia” posts come from Greg Rhodes and John Snyder’s fabulous book, “Redleg Journal” (see link for purchasing) and are used with Greg’s permission.

Thanks again to Greg Rhodes for permission to use his material.

Comment: Billingham also threw 25 1/3 World Series innings, allowing only 1 earned run on 14 hits.

About The Author

I've been a Reds fan since the late '60's, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in '84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in '90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

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2 Responses

  1. Shawn

    More evidence that Bob Hertzel was then, and is now, an idiot. We are good to be rid of him. He went from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh, and now is sports editor for a newspaper in Morgantown, WV, stepping down in market size each step. There’s a reason for that.

  2. Mark in CC

    That was a great trade no doubt but the July 20, 1916 trade by the Giants and Reds of Ed Roush, Christy Mathewson and Bill McKechnie to the Reds for Buck Herzog and Red Killefer has got to rank right up there.

    Although Mathewson, who became team manager only pitched one game for the Reds there has never been a trade where three future Hall of Famers were acquired in one deal.

    Roush was a superstar and McKechnie a good role player and later World Championship Manager. In addition to who was acquired, if you look at what was given up Killefer was a 248 hitting outfielder and Herzog a .258 hitting infielder. May, and Helms were All Stars in their own right much more accomplished than their 1916 counterparts.