July 10, 1970: Reds shortstop Woody Woodward hits the only home run of his nine-year major league career in an 11-9 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a doubleheader. The Reds won the second game, 3-1, to avoid being swept and break a four game losing streak. The four game losing streak tied the longest losing streak of the year in a season where the Reds won the National League Western Division by 14.5 games. The Reds went on to win the National League pennant before losing the World Series in five games to the Baltimore Orioles.

Woody Woodward’s career lasted nine seasons and 880 games from 1963 through 1971. Woodward made it to the majors with the Milwaukee Braves after only 89 minor league games. Being groomed to replace former Red Gold Glover Roy McMillan, he was competing with another future Red, Denis Menke, for the shortstop job for the Braves. Menke’s superior offense won out, but Woodward won the good glove, backup infielder role. Woodward eventually earned the second base job but became expendable after batting .226 in 1967 and losing his job to a young Felix Millan.

Woodward was acquired by the Red in the trade used to extricate memories of the infamous Frank Robinson trade. Woodward was acquired along with starting pitcher Tony Cloninger and reliever Clay Carroll for starting pitcher Milt Pappas, reliever Ted Davidson, and outfielder Bob Johnson. Woodward played 3 1/2 years for the Reds, sharing time with Dave Concepcion and Darrel Chaney at shortstop. With the Reds, Woodward batted .242 in 389 games with 36 extra base hits in 1001 plate appearances, retiring after the 1971 sesaon. Reds’ GM Bob Howsam loved Woodward’s professional look and kept a poster of him in the Reds’ clubhouse to show the players on how a Reds player should dress. Woodward later became a Reds announcer, as assistant GM for the Reds and Yankees, then became GM of the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Seattle Mariners.

Speaking of Chaney, he was another Reds middle infielder during the Big Red Machine days without much power. A slick fielding middle infielder, Chaney reached the majors at age 21 and played seven seasons for the Reds. Chaney played 536 games for the Reds, batting .207 with 47 extra base hits in 1195 plate appearances, including seven home runs. One home run was a grand slam home run on July 7, 1974, to score the first runs in an 11-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. According to “Redleg Journal“, Chaney was so excited by it that he took Reds’ announcer Marty Brennaman’s radio play-by-play call and had it attached to his doorbell so that visitors heard about Chaney’s grand slam rather than a traditional bell. In 1974, Chaney was Dan Driessen’s defensive replacement playing 81 games at third base, but only starting two. Chaney was later traded to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Mike Lum and he was awarded the starting shortstop job. He batted .252, but began sharing the job with a young Pat Rockett. He played four years with the Braves before retiring after the 1979 seasons, ending an 11 year career.

How similar were Chaney and Woodward? In Chaney’s list of similar players, Woodward is second; on Woodward’s list of similar players, Chaney is third. I suppose Bob Howsam and Sparky Anderson had in mind the type of player they wanted to play the middle infield.

4 Responses

  1. OhioJim

    Just curious, on the “similar player” rankings where does Doug Flynn fall in reference to Woodward and Chaney? He would seem to be another one cut form the same cloth and would further your conclusion that Howsam et al knew what they wanted in a back up middle infielder.

  2. Steve Price

    I looked at Flynn but I think he played too much as a second baseman regular with the Mets to fall into the similar category. Flynn’s similar players include Hal Lanier, Jose Lind, Gary Sutherland, and Denny Doyle.

  3. Bill Lack

    I don’t remember Woodward as a Reds announcer…had to have been on TV, right?

  4. Steve Price

    I don’t remember him as an announcer either, but 1984-85 were the years listed by baseball-reference.com, and I was getting out of college at the time. Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall were the guys on radio, so Woodward must have been on tv….we didn’t get many tv games and i wasn’t watching much then.