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This Day in Reds History: Expansion and the Invisible Tag

October 10, 1961: In the National League’s first expansion draft, the Reds lose six players, four to the New York Mets and two to the Houston Colt .45’s.

The Mets selected pitchers Jay Hook and Sherman Jones, infielder Elio Chacon, and popular outfielder Gus Bell. The Colt .45’s selected first baseman Dick Gernert and pitcher Ken Johnson.

The expansion draft didn’t do a lot of damage to the Reds. Johnson was the probably the biggest loss. He had been acquired in trade for reliever Orlando Pena from the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League and made 11 second half starts for the Reds. Johnson was 6-2 with 3.25 ERA for the 1961 Reds, but went on to play 13 major league seasons going 91-106 with a 3.46 ERA (102 ERA+). He became a rotation starter through the 1968 season.

Bell was the surprise loss. One of the most popular Reds since 1951 and a four-time all-star, Bell had become a role player by the 1961 Reds World Series sesason. Bell picked up the first New York Met hit ever in 1962, but batted only .149 in 115 plate appearances before being dealt to the Milwaukee Braves where he played one season on the bench and pinch hit three times in each of the next two seasons.

Hook was a prospect that had not panned out for the Reds. Hook went 11-18 with 4.50 ERA in 1960 as a 23-year-old, but did not pitch well in 1961 going 1-3 with a 7.76 ERA in 62 innings, allowing 14 home runs. After the Mets started 1962 with an 0-9 record before winning the first game in Mets’ history.

October 10, 1967: In more damage control following the aftermath of the Frank Robinson trade, the Reds deal slugging first baseman Deron Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Mack Jones, outfielder-1b Jim Beauchamp, and reliever Jay Ritchie.

Johnson had been a slugger prospect that did not pan out with the New York Yankees and Kansas City Athletics. The Reds made Johnson their first baseman in 1964 and he responded by batting .273 with 21 homers. He moved to 3b in 1965 and finished fourth in the MVP race batting .287 with 32 homers and 130 rbi. Johnson wasn’t a third baseman and with the trading of Robinson to the Orioles, Johnson was moved to left field where he batted .257 with 24 homers and 81 rbi in 1966. In 1967, Johnson shared first base with Lee May and batted .224 with 13 homers. Johnson was 28, May was 24 and batted .265 with 12 homers. It was time to move Johnson and they traded for slugging lefthanded centerfielder Jones and pinch hitter Beauchamp.

I was careful to not say that Johnson slumped after his big 1965. That season was an outlier in Johnson’s career with him closely duplicating that season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1971 when he hit .265 with 34 homers and 95 rbi. Johnson was low average, high strikeout slugger, playing 16 major league seasons and finishing with a .244 batting average and 245 home runs. He struck out 146 times playing for the Phillies in 1971.

Jones was a similar player to Johnson only he could play centerfield. In 1965, Jones batted .262 with 31 homers, and 122 strikeouts for the Milwaukee Braves. As a Red, Jones played one part-time season, batting .252 with 10 homers before being drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. Beauchamp served as a Reds pinchhitter for two seasons, hitting .256 in 74 games before being dealt to the Houston Astros. Ritchie pitched in relief one year for the Reds going 2-3 with a 4.61 ERA in 28 games.

October 10, 1970: The Reds blow a 3-0 lead and lose the first game of the 1970 World Series to the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3, in Cincinnati. This was the first World Series game to ever be played on artificial turf.

The Reds scored first in the bottom of the first inning when Johnny Bench singled home Bobby Tolan who had doubled with one out. The Reds made it 3-0 in the third when Lee May homered off Jim Palmer with Tolan aboard. The Orioles got two runs back when Boog Powell homered off Gary Nolan and then tied it in the in the fifth inning on an Elrod Hendricks home run.

Then came one of the best known blown calls of World Series history.

With one out in the sixth, Reds rookie sensation Bernie Carbo (.310, 21 homers, 1.004 OPS, 164 OPS+) drew a walk. Tommy Helms followed with a single with Carbo advancing to third base. Ty Cline was sent up to pinch hit for shortstop Woody Woodward and chopped a ball right in front of home plate. Catcher Hendricks went for the ball and here’s the rest of the story from “Day By Day in Reds History” by Floyd Conner and John Snyder:

Oriole catcher Elrod Hendricks fielded the ball in front of the plate and was surprised to find Carbo heading down the third base line. Hendricks wheeled around to tag Carbo with his glove, but the ball was in his bare hand. Home plate umpire Ken Burkhardt, who had not expected Carbo to try to score, managed to get in the way of the Reds’ baserunner. Burkhardt, sitting in a cloud of dust with his back to the play, called Carbo out, touching off a long argument. Carbo, however, never touched home plate (except inadvetently during the course of the argument). It was a strange case in which the baserunner missed the plate, the catcher missed the tag, and the umpire missed the entire play.

Brooks Robinson won the game for the Orioles with a seventh inning home run off Nolan. May had two hits in the game for the Reds.

October 10, 1972: Ross Grimsley pitches a two-hitter as the Reds move into a 2-2 game tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series.

The Reds led 5-0 through six innings before the Pirates finally scored on a seventh inning run on a Roberto Clemente home run. Grimsley went the distance, walking no one and striking out five. Grimsley also had two hits on the day as did Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Denis Menke.

October 10, 1973: The New York Mets defeat the Reds in the fifth and final game of the 1973 League Championship Series with a 7-2 win in New York.

The Mets struck first with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but the Reds got one run back on a Dan Driessen sacrifice fly in the third inning and tied it in the fifth inning on a Tony Perez single. The Mets blew it open in the fifth when they scored four runs on four hits off three Reds pitchers. Pete Rose had two hits in the game for the Reds.

The Reds finished the season with a 99-63 record while the Mets were 83-79, but the Mets’ pitching held the Reds offense to only eight runs in the five games.

October 10, 1976: The Reds stopped Philadelphia Phillies’ pitcher Jim Lonborg’s no-hitter by scoring four times in the sixth inning to take a 2-0 game lead over the Philies with a 6-2 victory.

The Phillies scored one run in the second on a single and made it 2-0 in the fifth inning on a Greg Luzinski home run. Meanwhile, pitcher Lonborg had allowed only one baserunner through five innings, a first inning walk to Ken Griffey. The Reds blew it open in the sixth inning when they scored four runs on three hits, two walks, and an error. The Reds added two insurance runs in the seventh to give them the final 6-2 margin. Pedro Borbon pitched four innings of shut out baseball in relief for the Reds.

October 10, 1990: The Pittsburgh Pirates even the 1990 League Championship Series at two games apiece with a 3-2 win over the Reds in Pittsburgh.

The Reds scored the first run of the game in top of the first inning on a Herm Winningham sacrifice fly, but the Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead and added another run to make it 3-1 in the fourth inning. The Reds pulled within 3-2 in the eighth inning on a Barry Larkin double.

The Reds had a chance to win it, or at least to tie or take the lead in the ninth inning. Paul O’Neill and Eric Davis both singled to open the inning off Pirates starter Doug Drabek. Hal Morris sacrificed them to second and third base with one out. Bob Patterson relieved Drabek and issued Chris Sabo an intentional walk to load the bases. Patterson then induced Jeff Reed to ground into a double play to send the series to a decided fifth game.

October 10, 1995: The Atlanta Braves scored on an 11th-inning single to take a 1-0 game lead in the National League Championship Series against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati.

The Reds had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Barry Larkin tripled and scored on a Ron Gant infield single. Pete Schourek and the Reds had allowed only four hits and struck out eight Braves before the Braves tied it in the ninth on a David Justice fielder’s choice ground ball. The Braves won it in the 11th inning when Mike Devereaux singled home Fred McGriff with two outs off Reds reliever Mike Jackson to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. The Reds threatened in the bottom of the 11th when Thomas Howard led off with a double and advanced to third base on a Larkin ground out. Mariano Duncan walked, but Reggie Sanders grounded into a double play to end the game.

5 thoughts on “This Day in Reds History: Expansion and the Invisible Tag

  1. sherman roadblock jones was tenacious
    ken johnson lost the no hitter to joe nuxhall on an error by nellie fox

  2. Wow, a lot of October memories, some good, some bad.

    The 1973 game 5 loss to the Mets was depressing. I was at Shea the previous day when Pete Rose won it with his 12th (?) inning HR.
    I was in Manhattan and outside a lot that day, watching tvs in store fronts like a lot of other people. Of course, I was the only one rooting for the Reds. And I was the only one who knew – among that crowd – how much better they were than the Mets. But I felt sure they’d lose. The meltdown inning included Dan Driessen not tagging a runner at 3rd because he thought there was a force, when there wasn’t. The last time he played 3rd base.

    Spiro Agnew, Nixon’s VP, resigned that day, due to some corruption charge. The word on the street was that the Reds and Agnew had both quit. I resented the comparison.

  3. 1995: First game of the NLCS. Another depressing memory. Listened to the whole game on the radio. A key hit for the Braves in the 9th was a ground ball single that some people thought Hal Morris should have caught.

    Reggie Sanders and Ron Gant were awful that series, just killed us.

  4. 1990: That’s a mistake. With the Pirates win, the Reds held a 3-2 series lead.

  5. 1976: The BRM goes ahead 2-0 on the way to sweeping the Phillies. Note that Borbon pitched the last 4 innings. The closer Eastwick had pitched crappily the nite before, when he came in to the 9th inning with the Reds holding a large lead. So Sparky didn’t use him. He was flexible about these things.

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