September 22, 1903: “Turkey Mike” Donlin ties a major league record by tripling in four consecutive at bats during a doubleheader split with the Philadelphia Phillies in Cincinnati.
Donlin’s first triple came in the last at bat of a first game 12-7 Reds loss and then he tripled in his first three at bats of the second game Reds 8-1 victory. For the afternoon, Donlin had six hits in seven at bats. For the season, Donlin’s only full season in Cincinnati, Donlin batted .351 with 25 doubles, 18 triples, 7 homers, and 67 rbi, a .420 OBP, and a .936 OPS (155 OPS+). He was second in the league in OPS, triples, home runs, and runs created. He may be one of the best Reds’ talents you’ve never heard of and a piece of one of the greatest collections of Reds outfield talent in Reds history.
Donlin was quite the character. The Reds signed him as a free agent in 1902 while he was in jail for assaulting an actress. When he was released, he finished the 1902 season by playing in 34 games and hitting .287. He was one of baseball’s best players in 1903, and was hitting a robust .356 in 1904 when the Reds traded him to the New York Giants. His OPS+ at the time of his trade was 162, so he was producing. However, Donlin was also an actor and would frequently take leaves of absence during his baseball career to pursue his other craft. Over 12 major league seasons, Donlin batted .333 with an OPS+ of 144, but he played only 1049 games (averaging about 85 per year) during his career.
The 1903 Reds finished in fourth place in the National League with a record of 74-65, 16 games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates. Center fielder Cy Seymour was a hitting machine for the Reds, batting .342 with 25 doubles, 15 triples, seven homers (OPS+ of 134) and third baseman Harry Steinfeldt had his best season as a Red, batting .312 and leading the league with 32 doubles (OPS+ of 136). Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley had another good season in his last year with the Reds, batting .327 with an OPS+ of 126. In seven seasons with the Reds, Beckley batted .325 with 251 extra base hits, 530 rbi, and an OPS+ of 128. Hall of Fame manager-outfielder Joe Kelley also played well, batting .316 with a .402 OBP (OPS+ of 124) playing a utility role in 105 games for the Reds.
The Reds had three very good pitchers. Noodles Hahn had his last 20-game victory season, going 22-12 with a 2.52 ERA (ERA+ 141), Bob Ewing was 14-13 with a 2.77 ERA (ERA+ 128), and Jack Sutthoff was 16-9 with a 2.80 ERA (ERA+ of 127).
September 22, 1907: Reds 30-year-old rookie pitcher Bob Spade makes his major league debut by hurling a 1-0 shut out over Hall of Fame pitcher Joe McGinnity and the New York Giants in Spade’s first major league start. Spade is one of six Reds pitchers to throw a shutout in the pitcher’s major league debut. The others were Bobby Mitchell (1877), Pete Schneider (1914), Mel Queen (1967), Wayne Simpson (1970), and Charlie Leibrandt (1980).
The shutout win was Spade’s only win of 1907 and was a precursor of 1908 when Spade would compile a 17-12 record with a 2.74 ERA (84 ERA+). Spade, a late starter, would finish his career 25-24 over four seasons with a 2.96 ERA (83 ERA+). Then became a couple of transactions involving Spade which are seemingly inane and bizarre.
Spade, whose 2.74 ERA wasn’t as good as it looked, was placed on waivers and claimed by the New York Giants on November 8, 1908. Two days later, he was traded back to the Reds, plus $5000, for outfielder Dave Brain and pitcher Jake Weimer. None of these players were ever effective again after the 1908 season. Weimer was the best player of the lot, having gone 97-69, a three-time 20-game winner, with a career 2.23 ERA (ERA+ 125). He only pitched three innings after 1908. Brain was the 1907 National League home run leader with 10 and batted .279 (OPS+ of 133 in 1907) for the Boston Doves, but only made 19 more plate appearances after the 1908 deal. Spade made 14 appearances (13 starts) for the Reds in 1909 and was 5-5 with a 2.85 ERA, but went 2-5- in 1910 and was done. May be the owners of both teams greatly overvalued the players at the time
The 1907 Reds weren’t a good team, finishing 66-87, in sixth place, 41 1/2 games behind the World Series winning Chicago Cubs. Bob Ewing was an excellent pitcher, finishing the year 17-19 with a 1.73 ERA (ERA+ of 150). Weimer was 11-14 with a 2.41 ERA (108 ERA+), and Andy Coakley was 17-16, 2.34 ERA (ERA+ of 111). The Reds’ best hitter was outfielder Mike Mitchell who batted .292 with 12 triples (OPS+ of 122). In the area of poor defense and less hitting, pitchers Ewing, Coakley, and Weimer are all in the top five Reds career ERA (all ERA’s at 2.37 or under).
September 22, 1954: The Reds protest a loss to the Chicago Cubs involving a dropped third strike and eventual chaos. “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder tells the story:
September 22: The game between the Reds and Braves at County Stadium in Milwaukee ends in total confusion. The Braves led, 3-1, in the top of the ninth with Gus Bell on second base and Wally Post on first with one out. Facing Warren Spahn, Bob Borkowski swung and missed on strike three, but the ball sailed past catcher Del Crandall. Crandall retrieved the errant pitch and threw to third base in an attempt to nab the advancing Bell, but the Reds baserunner was safe. Third baseman Ed Mathews caught sight of Borkowski running toward first and threw the ball across the infield, striking Borkowski in the back. The ball rolled into right field, allowing both Bell and Post to score for what appeared to be a tie game at 3-3. Borkowski wa already out, however, because a batter cannot advance on a third strike if first base is occupied (with less than two out). The umpires discussed the play for 18 minutes before deciding that Borkowski’s illegal presence on the base paths had drawn Mathews’ throw. Both Bell and Borkowski were called out, ending the game with a 3-1 score. The Reds immediately protested the decision to National League President Warren Giles.
The Reds were right and Giles upheld the protest, though I don’t necessarily agree with Giles decision….read on, again from “Redleg Journal”:
September 23: Warren Giles upholds the Reds protest of the September 22 game against the Braves. He ordered the contest be resumed with two out, and Gus Bell on third base and Wally Post on second, and the score 3-1 in favor of Milwaukee. Johnny Temple would be the next hitter. The replay was to take place on September 24 in Milwaukee prior to the regularly scheduled game between the Braves and Cardinals. The Reds had already traveled to Chicago, where they were scheduled to begin a series against the Cubs on September 25, requiring a return to Milwaukee for the resumption of a game that could theoretically end on one pitch.
So, Giles rules that nobody scores despite the wild throw and the irresponsibility of the defense. He essentially gave the Reds one base as a compromise for Borkowski running to first base. Now, you must understand the season is all but over. The Reds had only two games remaining and their record was 74-77 on the way to finishing in fourth place with a 74-80 record. The Braves finished third, but they would finish eight games behind the New York Giants so they were mathematically eliminated, too. Here’s the result, “Redleg Journal” finishing the story. You’ll note how emotional the situation was by the additional comments were by Reds broadcaster Waite Hoyt:
September 24: The Reds and Braves complete the suspended game of September 22 in Milwaukee. Johnny Temple swung at the first pitch and singled to score Gus Bell and pinch-runner Nino Escalera to tie the score, 3-3, but the Braves won, 4-3, with a run in the bottom of the ninth……
In a 1955 interview, broadcaster Waite Hoyt called Temple’s at bat, “the most dramatic moment I’ve had” since calling Reds games, besting even Ewell Blackwell’s bid for his second straight no-hitter which Hoyt called in 1947. “Johnny, a fiery kid with ice water in his veins…slammed the first pitch to center to score Bell,” recalled Hoyt. “When Bill Bruton fumbled the ball, Escalera scored to tie it three all. To me, nothing has happened in my time on the radio to match it for sheer drama and suspense.”
The 1954 Reds are known for Ted Kluszewski’s best major league season. He led the majors with 49 home runs and 141 rbi. He was fifth in the National League in batting average at .326, 19 points behind league leader and MVP Willie Mays. Kluszewski had an OPS of 1.049 and an OPS+ of 167 that season.
September 22, 1972: The Reds clinch the National League Western Division championship with a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros in Houston.
The Reds scored twice in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Tony Perez and a single by Denis Menke and then a Pete Rose second inning home run gave the Reds a 3-0 lead. The deciding run came on a Johnny Bench sixth inning home run to make the score 4-1. Reds relievers Pedro Borbon and Clay Carroll staved off an eighth inning two-run Astro rally to preserve the win.
Bench was the NL MVP in 1972, winning his second MVP award by age 24. He batted .270 and led the majors with 40 home runs and 125 rbi while winning his fifth consecutive Gold Glove. Bench’s OPS+ for the season was 166. Joe Morgan had an outstanding year in his first season as a Red, batting .292 and leading the league with 115 walks, 122 runs scored, and an OBP of .417 (OPS+ 149). Perez had another great season, batting .283 with 21 homers and 90 rbi (OPS+ 145) and Rose batted .307 with 48 extra base hits (OPS+ 134). Gary Nolan had possibly his best full season as a Red, going 15-9 with a 1.99 ER (162 ERA+). He finished fifth in Cy Young voting that season.
The 1972 Reds won the strike-shortened season with a 95-59 record. The defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the League Championship Series in five games, before losing to Oakland Athletics in seven games in the World Series.
September 22, 1995: The Cincinnati Reds clinch the National League Central Division title with a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Reds were trailing 2-1 entering the top of the ninth inning when Ron Gant reached on an infield single. Reggie Sanders walked with Gant advancing to second base. Hal Morris sacrificed to advance the runners, and Benito Santiago was intentionally walked to load the bases. Bret Boone then doubled home two runs to give the Reds the eventual victory. Jeff Brantley pitched the ninth inning to record the save. John Smiley struck out 11 in the game on his way to a 12-5 season with a 3.46 ERA.
Sanders had his best major league season in 1995, batting .306 with 28 homers, 99 rbi, 36 doubles, and 36 steals, with an OPS of .975 (OPS+ 154). Gant batted .276 with 29 homers, 88 rbi, and an OPS of .940 (OPS+ 145). MVP Shortstop Barry Larkin batted .319 with 60 extra base hits and 51 steals (OPS+ 133). Pete Schourek came from nowhere to win 18 games (18-7) with a 3.22 ERA (129 ERA+) and finish second in Cy Young balloting. It was Schourek’s only season with double digit wins. He played in 11 major league seasons. Brantley finished the year 3-2 with 28 saves and a 2.82 ERA (148 ERA+) and Michael Jackson was 6-1 with a 2.39 ERA (175 ERA+).
The 1995 Reds finished this strike/lockout shortened season with an 85-59 record, nine games ahead of the Houston Astros. The Reds swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason Division Series, but were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the League Championship Series.
September 22, 1996: Barry Larkin becomes the second Red to join the “30/30” club (30 homers and 30 steals) when he homers in a 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. John Smiley pitched a one-hitter. Larkin followed up his MVP year with an even better season, batting .289 with 33 home runs, 89 rbi, 36 steals, and a .977 OPS (154 OPS+). He also won his third consecutive Gold Glove. Eric Davis is the only other Red to have a 30/30 season. In 1987, Davis batted .293 with 37 homers, 100 rbi, 50 steals, a .991 OPS (155 OPS+). During the 1996 season, Smiley was 13-14 with a 3.64 ERA.
September 22, 2000: The Reds club six home runs in a 12-5 win over the Houston Astros at Cinergy Field. Sean Casey homered twice and Juan Castro, Alex Ochoa, Michael Tucker, and Benito Santiago all homered once.
The 2000 Reds finished the second in second place in the National League Central Division with an 85-77 record, 10 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds hit 200 home runs as a team in 2000, but still only finished fifth in the league with that total, 49 behind the Astros. Ken Griffey, Jr., was the Reds best hitter, batting .271 with 40 homers, 118 rbi, and a .942 OPS (133 OPS+). Casey batted .315 with 20 homers and .902 OPS (124 OPS+). Chris Stynes batted .334 (120 OPS+) and Ochoa hit .316 (137 OPS+) in part-time play. Danny Graves had an outstanding year in relief going 10-5 with 30 saves and a 2.66 ERA (185 ERA+) and Scott Williamson had a 3.29 ERA (144 ERA+) and 136 strikeouts in 112 innings as a swingman out of the bullpen. Manager Jack McKeon managed to keep off-injured starting pitcher Steve Parris on the mound long enough to go 12-17 with a 4.81 ERA, his career high in wins.