October 25, 1884: The owner of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, Aaron Stern, sells the team to minority stockholder, George Herancourt, as reported by “Redleg Journal” authors Greg Rhodes and John Snyder. Herancourt later sells the Red Stockings to another brewery owner John Hauck. During Hauck’s time, some different nicknames for the Red Stockings are tried, such as Porkopolitans and Pioneers, but “Reds” or “Red Stockings” seemed to fit and be the most lasting.
October 25, 1886: Former Reds owner Aaron Stern decides to buy the Cincinnati Red Stockings from John Hauck. According to “Redleg Journal”:
One of Stern’s first decisions was to oust O.P. Caylor as manager. Caylor was replaced by 36-year-old Gus Schmelz, who sported a fiery red beard. Schmelz never played in the majors, but managed six league clubs between 1884 and 1897. he remained with the Reds through the 1889 season.
Caylor was a Cincinnati sportswriter whose opinions had offended many in the Cincinnati management organization, but also rallied many of the fans. Frankly, it was a case of the newspaper writer taking over the team. However, Caylor was well-respected and was instrumental in the founding of the American Association. Schmelz had two prior years of major league management experience with the Columbus Buckeyes (American Association) and the St. Louis Maroons (National League) before joining the Red Stockings. Schmelz had a very successful three year stay with the Red Stockings going 237-171 with one second place finish. Caylor had managed the Red Stockings for two years, going 128-122, also with one second place finish.
In his book, “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers”, Chris Jaffe writes that Schmelz was one of baseball’s greatest innovators. He started practicing his teams, including a preseason spring training camp. He began using bunting as a primary weapon to the point that bunting was often called “the Schmelz system,” and dictated in game strategy rather than just letting the players play. He invoked the role of managers in games.
Aaron Stern would eventually withdraw the Red Stockings from the American Association after the 1889 season, move the Reds to the National League for 1890, and then sell the Reds organization to a Players League group when the 1890 season finished. That group, led by Albert Johnson, decided to re-sell the Reds to John T. Brush, who had secured the Cincinnati franchise rights to the National League. Meanwhile, another Cincinnati team, sometimes called the Cincinnati Porkers and sometimes Cincinnati’s Kelly’s Killers (named for player-manager King Kelly), played in the American Association during 1891 before moving the AA franchise to Milwaukee. And, yes, it was as confusing that offseason as it read there…we didn’t even get into the player movements during that offseason.
October 25, 1927: Cincinnati Reds president August “Garry” Herrmann resigns his position, citing poor health and deafness as the reasons. Herrmann had been the primary Reds decision maker since he led a coalition that purchased the team back in 1903.
Herrmann was chairman of Cincinnati’s municipal waterworks board when he was named president and chief of baseball operations for the Reds. During his tenure, Herrmann was very well respected amongst his peers. He was named Chairman of the National Commission, making the deciding votes on baseball matters on a three-man committee consisting of Herrmann and the two presidents of each Major League. He held this position until baseball’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was named in 1920. It was Herrmann’s decision to not sue over the loss of star outfielder Sam Crawford having signed contracts in both leagues, with Crawford jumping to the Detroit Tigers, that led to the harmonious agreement between the American and National leagues. Herrmann also helped usher in the World Series as we know it today and even experimented with night baseball under the lights (he used this with local teams not the Reds).
Herrmann had his own distinctive style. From the book “The Ball Clubs” by Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella:
“Even for a business renowned for it’s outsized personages, the new Cincinnati boss seemed like a character out of Dick Tracy. Called a ‘walking delicatessen’ by some, he seldom ventured anywhere without an ample supply of sausages that he would munch on whenever the opportunity presented itself. On more than one occasion, he bolted from a public function because of some mixup that had left sausages unavailable. When he wasn’t proclaiming his addiction to meat, Herrmann was boasting of his beer-drinking prowess. In case anybody missed his bluster in bars, taverns, and hotel dining rooms, he could be recognized as the portly gentleman with a taste in checked suits and big diamond rings. Even his name Garry came to him expansively–it stood for Garibaldi, and had been given to him arbitrarily by an employer who wanted to think of all his charges as great European historical figures.”
Herrmann was a big spender and loved to host the party. According to Dewey and Acocella, after Herrmann rejected a couple of trade ideas, former Reds manager Joe Tinker protested that Herrmann was “more interested in saving money for his extravagant parties than in buying players who would make the team a winner.” According to various sources, Herrmann died nearly penniless in 1931. Wikipedia says his estate was worth ten dollars when he died. According to “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder, Herrmann’s estate was worth $120.
Herrmann also oversaw the Reds’ first World Championship, the 1919 World Series. He also was a patient owner and waited through seasonal contract holdouts of such Reds stars Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, and Hughie Critz, among others.
Herrmann’s successor was C.J. McDiarmid, an attorney who had been employed in an administrative position with the Reds. McDiarmid only lasted a couple of seasons before leaving the post. According to Dewey and Acocella, McDiarmid did not have the same patience with holdout players and “simply peddled away contract balkers.” Unfortunately for the Reds, the early 1930’s became one of the nadir points of Reds baseball. It wasn’t just McDiarmid’s doing…the Reds went through a number of ownership changes from the late 1920’s through the early 1930’s as the team struggled to succeed.
October 25, 1960: Gabe Paul resigns as vice-president and general manager of the Reds to become general manager of the expansion Houston Colt.45s. Paul had been the Reds GM that built the power-hitting slugging team of the 1950’s, including the major league tying 221 home run totals of 1956. From Wikipedia:
The Reds were then a losing outfit with a weak farm system. Paul rebuilt the minor league department and began to scout and sign African-American and Latin American players. In 1956 at age 20, Frank Robinson, the club’s first black superstar, had the best rookie season in NL history, hitting 38 home runs, scoring a league-leading 122 runs, and compiling an OPS of .936. In 1958, Cincinnati unveiled another star rookie outfielder, Vada Pinson, who would enjoy a long MLB career and, with Robinson, help lead the 1961 Reds to the National League pennant. Paul also signed a working agreement with the Havana Sugar Kings of the Triple-A International League, giving the team access to top Cuban talent such as shortstop Leo Cardenas and future “Big Red Machine” icon Tony Pérez. In addition, the Reds produced Cuban stars such as outfielder Tony González, second baseman Cookie Rojas, and pitcher Mike Cuellar — among many others — who made their mark with other MLB clubs.
The Cincinnati team of the mid-1950s — then temporarily nicknamed the Redlegs because of the anti-communism of the time — captured the country’s imagination as a team of sluggers. With a lineup that included Robinson, Ted Kluszewski, Gus Bell, Wally Post and Ed Bailey, the 1956 Redlegs hit 221 home runs and won 91 games to finish third, only two games behind the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers. Paul was named Executive of the Year. The following year, Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick had to intervene when Cincinnati fans “stuffed” the ballot box and elected a virtually all-Redleg starting lineup to the National League All-Star team.
However, Paul could not build on his 1956 success. The Reds brought in career executive Bill DeWitt who added the few extra touches needed that took the Reds to the 1961 World Series.
Paul’s immediate move to Houston wasn’t a success as he clashed with the organization’s owners and left Houston within a year. He later took executive positions with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.
October 25, 1975: In a little publicized trade at the time, the Reds traded starting pitcher Joaquin Andujar to the Houston Astros for minor league pitchers Luis Sanchez and Carlos Alfonso. From “Redleg Journal” by Rhodes and Snyder:
This was a “cut off your nose to spite your face deal” deal, as the volatile Andujar didn’t fit into the Reds conservative image. It came back to haunt Cincinnati as Andujar won 127 career games and had two seasons in which he won 20 or more.
Andujar became a four-time all-star, and finished fourth in Cy Young voting twice. The Reds were starving for pitching in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and Andujar entered the Astros’ rotation at age 23 the very next year the Reds traded him. In the Reds’ defense, Andujar had walked nearly seven batters per nine innings in his minor league career; in his rookie season with the Astros, his first season following the trade, he had improved his control to about four walks per nine innings.
To make matters worse, the Reds received no value in whom they acquired. Alfonso pitched 16 minor league games and was done for the Reds at age 26. Sanchez’s deal was different. He was injured after eight innings with the Reds Single A Tampa team and was released at age 22. He worked himself back through the Mexican League and became a very good major league reliever for the California Angels from 1981-85, going 28-21 with a 3.75 ERA over 194 appearances.