With the retiring of Pete Rose’s #14, there have been some questions asked about who’s next? What number will the Reds retire in the future, if any?

The Reds have already retired ten jersey numbers; two of them are managers, the other eight are players. Here is the list:

Fred Hutchinson 1
Johnny Bench 5
Joe Morgan 8
Sparky Anderson 10
Barry Larkin 11
Dave Concepcion 13
Pete Rose 14
Ted Kluszewski 18
Frank Robinson 20
Tony Perez 24
Major League Baseball mandated that #42 be retired by every team, as well.

A check of some of the other older baseball teams shows that the Reds are neither too liberal or too conservative in retiring numbers. The Yankees have retired the numbers of 21 former players and managers; St. Louis 12, Pittsburgh 9, the White Sox 9 and the Cubs 6. There are no hard or set rules to govern this. Teams are free to do what they wish on the matter.

But usually the criteria for retiring a players number is higher than what it takes to get the player in the team’s Hall of Fame. It’s considered the elite of the elite.

While not an expert on Reds players before the 1960s and certainly not as “advanced” as others on the fine arts of sabermetrics, I drew up a list of candidates who I thought merited such consideration.

Note: I didn’t consider current Reds players or former Reds players still active in baseball.

Vada Pinson #28

One of the best outfielders in baseball during the 1960s. Pinson was a fleet­footed, smooth centerfielder for the Reds over a decade. Pinson broke in with the Reds at the age of 19 in 1958.

He and Frank Robinson were a solid 1­-2 punch on offense. Pinson’s best year was 1961 when he batted .343 but was overshadowed by Robinson who won the MVP that season. Pinson had tremendous speed and was not prone to injury. In his first three seasons, he didn’t miss a single game.

From 1962­-1967 he averaged 158 games a year. A four time All-­Star, Pinson batted over .300 four times in his career with the Reds and rapped out 1881 hits. On the negative side, Vada shied away from bunting. When Earl Lawson, a Cincinnati sportswriter, wrote a column to that effect, Pinson took offense and they had an altercation. Pinson also didn’t have the competitive fire that drove Robinson to such great heights. But he anchored the Reds outfield for a decade and was a big part of the Reds winning record from 1961­1965.

Jim Maloney #46

A hard­-throwing righthander, Jim Maloney anchored the Reds pitching staff in the 1960s. Maloney literally had the best stuff ever by a Reds hurler in the modern era of baseball. He was overshadowed by the likes of Koufax, Marichal, Gibson and Drysdale during the 1960s and never won a Cy Young Award. Maloney had a 134­-81 career record with the Reds and a 3.16 ERA and 1592 strikeouts. He threw 30 shutouts and was a twenty ­game winner twice. He tossed a 10-inning no-­hitter against the Cubs in 1965, lost an 11 inning no­hitter against the Mets that same year and threw another no­hitter against Houston in 1969 (the only no­hitter caught by Johnny Bench.)

Eric Davis #44

In May 1987, Eric Davis was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He was clearly the best player in baseball. Eric Davis had a rare combination of power and speed seldom seen in baseball. He played center field like Julius Erving, stretched above the wall at Riverfront Stadium to rob hitters of home runs. In a homestand against St. Louis, he did it on consecutive nights to Cardinal slugger Jack Clark. Eric the Red had the best speed of any Reds player I’ve seen;­­­ only Dave Collins and Billy Hamilton compare. Eric was, and still is, beloved by Reds fans.

Davis’ downfall was injuries. The most games he played in a single season with Cincinnati was 135 in 1988. He hit a career high .293 in 1987 with 37 homers. The low seasonal number of games didn’t lead to great overall statistics. But Eric Davis made the All­Star team twice, won three Gold Gloves and in his prime could simply dominate a game.

Bucky Walters #31

Walters is the only Reds pitcher to ever win the Most Valuable Player Award, which he did in 1939. Walters pitched 11 seasons for Cincinnati and posted a 160­-107 record and a 2.93 to go along with 32 shutouts. He won a twenty game winner three times. In his MVP season, Walters was 27­11 with a 2.29 ERA. A seven­-time All­-Star the right-handed Walters was at his best in the 1940 World Series going 2-­0 and allowing just three runs in 18 innings of work against the Tigers.

He and Paul Derringer were the key pitchers in the back to back NL Champion Reds of 1939 and 1940.

Of the eight players numbers retired by the Reds, none are pitchers. Five of the eight won at least one Most Valuable Player Award. Five of the eight played on a World Series champion. And all eight are in the Reds Hall of Fame.

My conclusion: I would vote for Jim Maloney. He was the true ace for the Reds for many years. His arm started to give out in 1969 and he suffered a ruptured achilles tendon injury early in 1970 when the Reds were forming the Big Red Machine. Jim Maloney was a warrior on the mound; when he took the field, the Reds had a great chance to win. He had electric stuff. He gave it his all.

My runner up is Vada Pinson. He passed away in 1995, far too early. Vada was incredibly durable, always ready to play and took care of centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds for a decade. He was a big part of the Ragamuffin Reds of ’61 and the team in 1964 that nearly won the pennant.

23 Responses

  1. ohiojimw

    Couldn’t go wrong with either Maloney or Pinson; but, I think they are both too far in the rear view mirror for it to happen since it hasn’t happened by now.

  2. Tct

    I’ve always thought retiring numbers is a little silly. At some point, you either have to stop doing it or run out of numbers. Or have players wearing crazy numbers like 97 or 731 .

    Imitation is, after all, the highest form of flattery. Ten years from now a young player may be wearing number 19 cause that’s what Joey Votto wore. That seems to be a bigger compliment than saying that no one else can wear your number

  3. concepcion13

    Three that come to mind for me are George Foster (15), Ernie Lombardi & Don Gullett (35). Baseballreference.com tells me that Lombardi wore 7, 27, 17, 2, 35 & 4 during his 10 years with the Reds. Gullett had some great years before fleeing to NY, and Foster’s accomplishments are never far from the memories of any BRM fan. That 1977 MVP season was the icing on the cake.

    A guy who never wore a number but is worthy of “number retirement” is Edd Roush.

    I think Maloney. Lombardi & Foster should next in line for number retirement.

    • vegastypo

      I wonder if Foster had enough years of elite performance with the Reds to merit getting his number retired. … I think Lombardi is a good call, and couldn’t argue with Pinson and Maloney either. Wish the Reds had a healthy Maloney in 1970!

      • doctor

        yep agree on Maloney in 1970 and 72, 73 etc. would still been in some prime years with loaded lineup. might have caused name change from Great 8 to the Fine 9.

  4. cfd3000

    It is a little silly and yes, eventually numbers will get sillier (or outmoded – maybe the back of a future Reds jersey will say the equivalent of #RunBillyRun). But it is tradition. And the bar is much higher than just the Reds Hall of Fame. The player and number should be recognizable to baseball fans, not just Reds fans, and the career should be Hall of Fame level or really close. So I suspect the next number the Reds will retire will be 19, in about 15 years. There are plenty of ways to honor former stars and fill seats without retiring a number and I hope this doesn’t get diluted. So I’ll look forward to seeing Votto’s number join those all time greats some day.

  5. jazzmanbbfan

    I was at both of the games that Eric Davis robbed Jack Clark of home runs. Still one of my best memories from games I attended in person. I literally couldn’t believe when he did it again the 2nd night. Ever since then Eric the Red has been one of my favorite players.

    • vegastypo

      Ha, yeah. I was at one of the games, and after Davis stole the home run from Clark, Davis ended up reaching first base later in the game, and we were talking about what Clark might have been saying to Davis!

      • jazzmanbbfan

        Clark could be a little edgy so that might have been interesting but not for sensitive ears. When he was with the Giants I knew one of their pitchers who would leave me tickets for games. He did for a game in Pittsburgh and Clark was talking to an older woman who appeared to be a relative or friend of the family. He was signing baseballs for her. I was next to her with a baseball card. When he finished she said “and don’t forget to sign for this young man here”. He gave me one of those looks that clearly showed he hadn’t planned on it but he did sign the card. I still chuckle about that.

    • CP

      Yep. It’s basically Joey Votto or no one for me.

  6. Chuck Schick

    The standard should be HOF or extremely unusual circumstances.

    6 of the 10 are HOF and Rose is Rose.

    Concepcion is borderline HOF and played 19 years with 1 team. Klu was a very good player, served as a coach and was extremely popular. Hutchinson had success after 2 decades of mediocrity…..and died.

    In general, the standard should be HOF. Anything else waters it down.

    • concepcion13

      Lombardi is HOF (1986 by the Veteran’s Committee), plus he has a statue outside GABP already; I think he’s a logical choice for a number retirement but the team would have to choose one of the 6 numbers he wore during his career as a Red. He didn’t wear any number for more than 2 years for some reason.

  7. WVRedlegs

    You know, the Mets won’t build a statue for Tom Seaver at Citi Park.
    How about the Reds take advantage of the Mets miscue? Let’s have Seaver being the next statue to be commemorated and have his #41 be retired at the same time. His 75-46 record in 5 1/2+ seasons was exceptional and we got to see the last great years from this Hall of Famer. Seaver was 70-33 with the Reds until he went 5-13 in his last year in Cincinnati. That was a year of injury for Seaver and the worst of his ML career.
    Larkin and E. Davis will get theirs soon enough. Let’s trump the Mets and honor Seaver first in Cincinnati.

    • concepcion13

      41 might be a good combo number to retire: Seaver and Nuxhall.

      • WVRedlegs

        Ah yes. Double ceremony. You are cooking with gas now.

  8. ArtWayne

    Maloney and Gillett were too inconsistent. If it’s a pitcher either Blackwell or Walters. Starting eight Pinson? Had a line-drive bat and ran, like Mantle as if his feet weren’t touching the ground. Davis did not become one of the best ballplayers ever because of the hitch in his swing.

  9. Jonathan Morgan

    Junior #3, or 30
    Nuxhall/ seaver #41

  10. Zakk Wylde

    Mario Soto? Poor guy had to endure some hideous Reds teams…
    At one time he was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.

  11. Zakk Wylde

    Gary Nolan 10 years 110 Wins 70 Losses 3.08 ERA
    1967 Rookie of the Year
    1970 6th place Cy Young Award Voting
    1972 All-Star and 5th place Cy Young Award
    1967-1976 his ERA was NEVER higher than 3.56

  12. Zakk Wylde

    OK, last one….I promise..

    Sean Casey
    Reds Stats 8 Years
    CIN .305 . 371 .463 .834
    8 years
    1075 Games
    4007 AB
    118 HR
    604 RBI
    387 Walks
    465 SO

    3 Time All-Star
    1999, 2001, 2004

    1999 Finished 14 in MVP Voting

    Batting Average s c a p y
    1999 NL .332 (4th)
    2004 NL .324 (7th)
    2005 NL .312 (6th)

    Fielding % as 1B s c a p y
    1999 NL .995 (3rd)
    2000 NL .995 (5th)
    2003 NL .996 (5th)
    2005 NL .998 (1st)