Reds History

This Day in Reds History: Forgotten Heroes

September 24, 1924: Reds starting pitcher Carl Mays wins his 20th game of the season as the Reds defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-6.

Oh, wait…may be this happened on September 20th….baseball-reference.com’s bullpen says it’s the 24th of September, as does “Redleg Journal” (by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder), but baseball-reference.com’s team pages say it was September 20th. Nevertheless, Mays becomes the first pitcher to win 20 games with three different teams. Mays won 22 and 21 for the Boston Red Sox in 1917-18, won 26 and 27 for the New York Yankees in 1920-21, and won 20 for the Reds in 1924. Only two other pitchers won 20 or more games with three different teams, Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander and Gaylord Perry.

Mays finishes his 1924 Reds season with a 20-9 record and a 3.15 ERA (119 ERA+). Mays had one another excellent Reds season, going 19-12 with a 3.14 ERA and leading the league with 24 complete games in 1926. For his career, Mays was 208-126 with a 2.92 ERA; with the Reds over five years, Mays was 49-34 with a 3.26 ERA. Mays is best known or an unfortunate incident, for he’s the only major league pitcher to kill a batter with a pitched baseball. Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the temple by a Mays pitch (Mays was with the New York Yankees at the time) and died the next morning. Mays wasn’t a popular player and this made things worse and some teams called for him to be banned from baseball. Mays said repeatedly the incident was an accident, but the beaning may have been what has kept Mays out of the Hall of Fame. More about Mays can be read here.

The 1924 Reds finished fourth with an 83-70 record, ten games behind the New York Giants. The 1920’s Reds probably were the Reds’ best pitching decade. For example, the 1924 Reds had Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey (15-14, 2.76), Mays (20-9, 3.15), Pete Donohue (16-9, 3.60), and Dolf Luque (10-15, 3.16). All of these gentlemen won 20 or more games for the Reds during the 1920’s. The Reds also boasted Hall of Famer Edd Roush in centerfield, who batted .348, leading the league with 21 triples, and had an .877 OPS (134 OPS+). Outfielder Rube Bressler had one of his best seasons, hitting .347 with a 133 OPS+.

September 24, 1963: Reds starting pitcher Jim Maloney strikes out 14 Milwaukee Brave hitters in seven innings to win his 23rd game of the year as the Reds win, 4-2. Reliever Bill Henry struck out two more Braves in two innings of relief work as the Reds strike out 16 on the day. Maloney’s 23 wins ties Bob Purkey’s 23 wins from 1962 and Danny Jackson’s 23 from 1988 as the most victories for a Reds pitcher in the last 70 years. Bucky Walters’s 27 and Paul Derringer’s 25 wins (both in 1939) were the highest previous totals.

The 1963 Reds finished the season 86-76, in fifth place, 13 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. 1963 was one Reds outfielder Vada Pinson’s best seasons as he hit .313 and led the league with 204 hits and 14 triples. His OPS+ for the year was 142, a career high.

September 24, 1973: The Cincinnati Reds clinch the National League Western Division championship as they defeat the San Diego Padres, 2-1. Reds pitcher Dick Baney is the starter and winning pitcher for the Reds in one of his only three major league starts of his career.

The Reds scored their two runs in the fourth and six innings on home runs by Tony Perez and Andy Kosco, respectively. Perez’s 1973 season rivals his 1970 season for the best in his career. In 1973, Perez batted .314 with 27 homers, 101 rbi, a .919 OPS (159 OPS+). Kosco had a great part-time year off the bench for the Reds in 1973, batting .280 with nine home runs in 135 plate appearances, an OPS of .914 (155 OPS+). Kosco played for seven teams over ten major league seasons and had been a starting outfielder for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers in the late 1960’s before ending his career with the Reds.

Baney pitched in parts of three major league seasons, but he experienced some memorable moments during his major league time. Baney was a 1969 Seattle Pilot (1-0, 3.86 ERA in nine appearances), one of my favorite teams and one of the teams memorialized in Jim Bouton’s famous book, “Ball Four.” Baney was a former 1966 first round pick (secondary phase) of the Boston Red Sox and the Pilots had selected him in the expansion draft. The Pilots traded Baney to the Baltimore Orioles in June of 1970. The Reds purchased his contract from the Orioles in June, 1971, but after going 9-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 17 AAA starts at Indianapolis, the Reds “returned” him to the Baltimore Orioles after the season (how’s that for building your self-confidence…). He was with four organizations between the time the Reds returned him (Orioles, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics) and when the Reds signed him as a free agent on June 7, 1973. Two months later, Baney’s pitching the division clinching game for one of the greatest dynasties in baseball.

Baney pitched in 42 major league games for his career, including three starts, going 4-1 with a 4.28 ERA. For the Reds in 1973, Baney was 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA with two saves in 11 appearances, striking out 17 in 30 innings. In 1974, he was 1-0 with a 5.49 ERA, allowing 51 hits and 17 walks in 41 innings, while striking out only 12. During the 1974 season, he also pitchd 1 1/3 inning of scoreless relief in the great comeback 14-13 win over the San Francisco Giants on July 25. By 1975, he was being hit by AAA batters, too (51 hits and 7 homers in 39 innings), and his playing days were over.

For the pennant clinching game, Baney pitched seven innings of shut out baseball, allowed six hits, walked one, struck out two, and even went 1-3 at the plate. The 1973 Reds won the division with a 99-63 record, but lost to the New York Mets in the League Championship Series in five games.

September 24, 1996: Reds third baseman Willie Greene blasts three home runs as the Reds defeat the Chicago Cubs, 6-3.

Greene was a 1989 first round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates and was a key player in the Reds trade of future star reliever John Wetteland to the Montreal Expos in 1991. The Reds had received Wetteland and starting pitcher Tim Belcher from the Dodgers in trade for Eric Davis and starting pitcher Kip Gross on November 27, 1991. The Reds quickly flipped Wetteland and reliever Bill Risley to the Expos for Greene, outfielder Dave Martinez and lefty reliever Scott Ruskin. Wetteland went on to become one of the best relievers in baseball (48-45, 330 saves, 2.93 ERA, 618 appearances) while the Reds had huge hopes for Greene and his powerful bat.

Greene never totally fulfilled that promise however. After four cups of coffee with the Reds from 1992-95, he finally stuck with the Reds in 1996. His best season was 1997, when he batted .253 with 26 homers and 91 rbi (110 OPS+) and his biggest day came on September 26, 1996, when he blasted these three homers against the Cubs. For that season, he batted .244 with 19 homers. For his career, Greene batted .234 with 86 home runs over nine major league seasons.

5 thoughts on “This Day in Reds History: Forgotten Heroes

  1. Andy Kosko actually hit a home run I think in the 1973 playoff series vs. Mets
    Forgotten heroes included Rich Hinton (traded for Clay Carroll) and too many others to mention but also Dick Gernery pich hitterin 1961 and of course the legendary Hal King

  2. Willie Greene was the biggest waste of time and money from the ’90s. He was a lazy fielder at 3B and he struck out a lot, both reasons why the Reds were very happy to have Jeff Branson when they needed him. Branson may not have had any power, but after Greene’s many fielding disasters, Branson’s glove was a relief.
    Greene was also a bit clueless about how to act in the clubhouse. Eric Davis has a bit about him in his autobiography: the Reds suffered a very tough loss at home, evryone was disappointed and angry. When they got to the clubhouse, they saw that Greene had a limo waiting for him—-he was going out to celebrate his birthday. Davis and a couple other veterans pulled greene aside and told him to send his limo to his house and wait for him there. Davis told Greene it was not a class move to think about partying when the rest of the team is bitter about a loss.

  3. It’s hard to judge how good or bad the Wetteland trade was. Wetteland himself, while a good pitcher, apparently had a rather crass personality, an upper-class arrogance and a hostile streak that got even worse when he became born-again, just before he went to the Yankees. So, maybe that wasn’t the kind of person the Reds needed in the clubhouse, considering Leatherpants and Kevin Mitchell would be coming in the next season (’93).
    Dave Martinez played one OK season with the Reds before leaving as a free agent. Had he stayed longer, he would have made the trade worthwhile, considering he would play another 10 solid seasons in the majors.
    Scott Ruskin was horrible

    • Wetteland himself, while a good pitcher, apparently had a rather crass personality, an upper-class arrogance and a hostile streak

      Chris Carpenter 1.0?

  4. thats a classic small minded town philosophy wettelund was a darn good pitcher, leave it to losing organizations to discuss his attitude meanwhile he could pitch

Comments are closed.