September 9, 1970: Reds rookie Milt Wilcox, making his second career start, hurls a five-hit 6-0 shut over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first place Reds were now 13 games ahead of the second place Dodgers.

The 1970 Reds had moved from Crosley Field to Riverfront Stadium midway through the season. After having gone 70-30 through the first 100 games of the season, the Reds had gone 21-23 through through September 8, the day before Wilcox’s shutout. Wilcox’s first appearance was a five-inning start and 6-2 win over the San Diego Padres on September 5. He did not make another start on the year, but did make three relief appearances and finished the year 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA. In five games, he pitched 22 innings, allowed 19 hits, two home runs, walked seven, and struck out 13 as a 20-year-old.

Wilcox was named to the Reds post season team and pitched in the playoffs and was the winner in game three of the playoffs. He was 0-1 in two 1970 World Series relief appearances. Even at age 20, Wilcox was not the youngest member of the Reds’ postseason pitching staff. Rookie Don Gullett was 19; another rookie sensation Wayne Simpson was just 21 and four-year “veteran’ Gary Nolan was still only 22. Even Most Valuable Player catcher Johnny Bench was 22 as was offensive Rookie of the Year Bernie Carbo.

Wilcox played with the Reds again in 1971, going 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 18 games, including three starts. At season’s end, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder-pinch hitter Ted Uhlaender. Wilcox played 16 major league seasons with the Reds, Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners, and finished his career 119-113 with a 4.07 ERA. Uhlaender played one season for the Reds and batted .159 in 73 games (128 plate appearances) before retiring at year’s end. He played eight major league seasons and batted .263 with 36 home runs. Wilcox was one of several Reds pitching prospects that were dealt for the spare parts that helped the Reds win the 1975-76 World Series championships.

The 1970 Reds team finished in first place in the National League Western Division with a 102-60 record. They swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League championship series, but lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, four games to one.

September 9, 2007: Reds rookie Phil Dumatrait makes his last appearance as a Red when the Milwaukee Brewers become the first major league team to start a game with three consecutive home runs in a Reds 10-5 loss in Cincinnati. Two other major league teams had hit three home runs to start their first inning, but both of those teams had been the home team.

Dumatrait was a former 2000 first round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox whom the Reds received in trade for former Rookie of the Year Scott Williamson. Dumatrait pitched 12 pitches to five batters on this day, giving up the three homers and two singles before being removed. The home runs were hit by Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Ryan Braun. Dumatrait started six games for the Reds in 2007, pitching a total of 18 innings in those starts, going 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA. In those 18 innings, he allowed 30 hits, six home runs, walked 12 and struck out 6. In his best start, August 9 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he pitched six innings, allowing seven hits, two runs, two walks, and striking out three. So, in the other five starts, he pitched 12 innings, allowed 23 hits, seven walks, six homes, and struck out three.

The 2007 Reds team finished 72-90 and in fifth place in the National League Central Division. Dumatrait was waived at season’s end and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. For his career, Dumatrait is 3-10 with a 7.06 ERA.

5 Responses

  1. Chad Dotson

    Redleg Nation: the only place where you are likely to see a Milt Wilcox reference. Awesome!

    Keep up the great work on these, Steve. I love every one of them. This organization has a history to be proud of.

  2. Mark in cc.

    One reason Wilcox got such a shot in September 1970 was because most of the starting pitchers weren’t able to lift their arms to comb their hair.

    I am a big fan of Sparky and as critical of Dusty as anyone. Dusty has developed a negative reputation for hurting young pitchers but if you look back at those 70s maybe Sparky deserveed the same rap. Wayne Simpson was pitched into the ground and never effective again; Gary Nolan broke down repeatedly and was encouraged to pitch through the pain; Don Gullett although a star beginning at 19 for the Reds, had his arm blown-out at age 27; Jim Merrit although a 20 game winner in ’70 was done by the end of the year and for all intents and purposes permanently never the same.

  3. Steve Price

    Mark, you’re absolutely right and I’ve written about it quite a bit…and our wasted resources. I link to it in the article above under “pitching prospects were dealt”…

    This is actually a better matched story:

    I do think Sparky learned this; he didn’t use the young pitchers nearly as much or seem to push them as much later on…he did still push Nolan, though.

    It still may have been performance, not health driven. I don’t know. The Reds obviously thought that pitchers’ arms were a commodity they way they went through them, using them and dealing them.

    What Dusty seems to do is different than Sparky (should we call them Johnnie and George?). Dusty leaves them in games too long and uses his relievers on more back to back days. The relief usage for Dusty is contemporary, but he’s still extreme. Sparky’s contemporary “overuse” had to do with using any pitcher, especially starters, at almost any time…but, that was pretty common for everyone at the time outside of the Orioles and Dodgers…and his insistence that they pitch even when hurt…which may also have been a product of those times.