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.