You know, the kids these days love the youtubes. It’s not bad for the old guys, either, largely because there’s a treasure trove of old baseball games. Not just the classic games (like Game 4 of the 1976 World Series), but also some gems like the one below. It’s an early June NBC Game of the Week featuring the first-place Reds –Vin Scully is the announcer, and he calls these Reds the “1987-vintage Big Red Machine” — vs. the Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium.

Let’s watch it together, shall we?

–Once the game starts, all anyone can talk about is Eric Davis, who was taking the world by storm that season. Joe Garagiola interviews Davis on the field before the game, and there were highlights of Davis robbing Jack Clark of home runs in back to back games a few days before.

–There’s a Sweet “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” promo at the beginning.

–Marv Albert is in the NBC studio for the Game of the Week studio show. He conducted an interview with Dave Parker, and they timed one of Parker’s very slow home run trots.

–The best part of the pre-game show was the Albert Achievement Awards, “the wild and the wacky.” As a teenager, I used to love when Albert would come on David Letterman’s show and present these highlights and bloopers.

–Finally, the game starts and the praise of Eric Davis commences anew. Scully calls ED “a long, slender drink of water,” which is the best.

Davis really had taken the world by storm early in 1987. He was the National League Player of the Month in both April and May, and at the time of this game, Davis was hitting .327/.414/.754 with 20 home runs. Willie Mays comparisons were everywhere.

First inning
–Current bullpen coach Ted Power is the starting pitcher for the Reds. He was 4-2 with a 3.78 ERA at the time.

–The first inning ends with a nice double play, Barry Larkin to Dave Concepcion to Nick Esasky.

–The video shows the original commercials. The 1980s were weird.

–Tracy Jones was the leadoff hitter for the Reds. Jones was a rookie that season, and he started the year on fire. At this point in the season, Jones was hitting .339/.395/.600.

–Eight of these Reds were first-round draft picks.

–Barry Larkin was in his second season, and he was wearing #15, rather than the #11 that he made famous in Cincinnati.

–Eric Davis singled sharply in the first inning, then stole second base almost immediately. It’s as if ED wanted to reward all the kind things everyone had been saying at him before the game by providing some immediate excitement.

–Dave Parker hitting cleanup. Man, teenage me loved watching Parker hit. I had a pretty good wiffle-ball imitation of Parker’s batting stance, too.

–Parker popped up on a 3-0 pitch, with Davis in scoring position, to end the inning.

Second inning
— I have no idea what Orel Hershiser was doing with that Garagiola baseball card.

–Pre-Sabo Buddy Bell.

–I think I’m going to buy me a Yugo.

–Fernando Valenzuela was always fun to watch.

–Extended conversation about Nick Esasky’s “big, big hands.” Not sure what the subtext is, but it’s distracting when Scully calls him “E-soss-kee.”

–Bo Diaz is the starting catcher. I liked that guy, and I still remember when he passed away after that tragic accident. Sad.

–Alex Trevino — you might remember him from such classics as the terrible early 1980s Reds — caught for the Dodgers.

–Good ol’ Davey Concepcion. My memories of Concepcion are largely from the end of his career, when he wasn’t the same player as he once was. 1987 was Davey’s next-to-last season, and it was actually the only decent year as a hitter that he enjoyed in his final six campaigns.

–A commercial for The A-Team! Followed by a Hudy Delight ad! And you can get a free Pete Rose Action Glass from Gold Star Chili!

The rest of the way…
–“Boy, you’re a terrible manager, wow!” said Scully to Garagiola.

–Eric Davis has taken four home runs away from NL hitters, and the Davis love on this broadcast continues unabated.

–Dodgers break through first with a run in the top of the third. Jeff “Alexander” Hamilton doubled, and ultimately scored on a Steve Sax groundout.

–The Reds struck back in the bottom half of the inning. Power and Jones singled to lead off the inning, then both advanced when Sax threw the ball away (remember when he used to do that all the time?).

Larkin proceeded to double in both runners, then Dave Parker singled Larkin home a couple of batters later. After a Bell walk, Esasky doubles to left, scoring two more runs. When the dust settled, the Reds were ahead 5-1.

–Scully giving his audience trivia about cicadas is pretty great.

–No more scoring until the top of the ninth, when Dodgers CF John Shelby hits an inside-the-park home run. You don’t see that every day. Possibly could have been an error on Davis, maybe should have been, but Davis is the hero of all Red-blooded Americans, so the Riverfront Stadium official scorer couldn’t do that to him (and us).

–Complete game three-hitter for Ted Power. Impressive outing. He’s the Miller Lite Player of the Game!

Power gave a pretty fun post-game interview, too. Wonder if he ever considered doing television work after his career? He had a talent for it.

–Jones was 2-4 with a double. He actually looked like a good player. Who knew?

–1987 Chad was really excited that six of the eight starters had batting averages at .298 or higher.

–The announcer, Vin Scully, was great. Whatever happened to that guy?

So…what did you think? Fun little trip down the memory hole. Let’s do this again sometime.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. I still have very fond memories of all these mid-to-late 1980’s Reds teams. I really started watching Reds games in 1985. Nick Esasky was one of my first favorite players to watch. It is fun to look back at that first Reds team and see how it transformed into the 1987/88 team and then into the 1990 team.

    They made several right decisions in hindsight that helped it all come together for them. For example, my memory is that Jones vs O’Neill in right field was debated among Reds fans because it wasn’t clear who would be the better long term choice there. (.290 with 30 steals – Jones – vs .250 with 15 homeruns – O’Neill.)

    Another was Power and Kurt Stillwell to the Royals for Danny Jackson. I remember some worry as to whether the Reds traded the right SS to KC in that trade. The other option being 23 year old Barry Larkin.

    There has only been 1 Reds player since 1987 to have a higher WAR (baseball-reference) than Eric Davis’s 7.9 WAR season: Jose Rijo had a 10.2 WAR season in 1993. Looking prior to 1987, you have to go back to the Big Red Machine days to find George Foster and an 8.4 WAR in 1977.

    • I was a big Nick Esasky fan too. Even when he went to Boston. The vertigo sure cut a nice player’s career short.
      It was great to see Eric Davis on the Reds winter caravan tour this past winter. Eric Davis was a Reds Red. Too bad Marge Schott didn’t think so.

  2. Ah, ’87! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Bridesmaid finishes for our Reds, Hudy D beers, Snappy Cicada pizzas and my man, Nick “E-soss-kee” – all from the comfort of a top-6 red outfield seat at Riverfront. Fans had it so much better then!

    Say, whatever happened to that Eric Davis guy? He was pretty good there for awhile. And I bet that Barry Larkin fellow probably had a decent career. No doubt that Tracy Jones was a hall of famer, amiright?

  3. Those were some fun teams! For some reason offensive stats skyrocketed across the board in 1987. For some reason even Wade Boggs hit 24 HRs that year. The theory at the time was harder baseballs or something? I went to a businessman’s special vs Atlanta and they were down 8-2 if my memory is correct and came back to win. Eric the Reds and Parker both homered. The winning walkoff run involved Tracy Jones too….a hbp or error or something?

  4. If it would have been a Reds-Braves game Esasky would have went deep at least twice. That guy killed the Braves.
    Thanks, Chad. I remember watching this game back in 87. It would have been interesting to see the numbers Davis would have put up in a 10 year span had he been able to average playing a 150 games a season.

    • I was at both the games when Davis robbed Jack Clark. Felt like I was watching an instant replay the 2nd time he did it. For whatever reason, those catches remain just about the most “indelibly imprinted in my brain” in person memories I have of the 800+ games I’ve attended over the years. Probably also why he is one of my two favorite all-time Reds.

  5. Eric the Red was an all time favorite of mine for the same reason he couldn’t stay healthy. He played the game like it was played in years gone by. He played with reckless abandon and unfortunately he wasn’t built to take the beating. The one problem I had with him was that busy front foot and how high he would pick it up my son was an impressionable 9 year old and he wanted to imitate that big old step, I still wonder how good he could have been if ED has a quiter approach to the plate LOL

  6. This is fantastic.

    • Best part so far… their graphical capabilities couldn’t handle putting “Fernando Valenzuela” on the screen, so they had to abbreviate his name.

  7. If only BHam could somehow discover ED’s power and OBP skills. He definitely already has the speed and defense part down. (And hopefully won’t hurt himself by diving around out there, but at least real grass is softer than Astroturf.)

    • I think we sometimes forget how punishing those turf fields were. Even worse for football players.

  8. Funny this got posted… at work on Wednesday I watched ED’s homer off Dave Stewart in the ’90 series about 5 times in a row, just because. Still a goosebump moment.

  9. I was obsessed with Eric Davis as a kid. I guess it qualifies as my first man-crush.

  10. I remember watching the Cubs broadcast of a Reds/Cubs game and Eric Davis made a crazy catch in Wrigley and I thought Harry Caray was going to have a coronary in the booth! Eric the Red and Josh Hamilton are the 2 most physically gifted Reds players I’ve ever seen but of course neither one could stay on the field.

  11. Ahhh, I remember sitting in the “green seats” in RF (don’t like sitting in the OF) and chanting “Park ‘er here Dave!!” every time Parker came up. I think the Reds were playing the Astros when he hit one that a kid two rows below me made a nice catch on.

  12. Eric the Red….needless to say, a favorite of mine. Thanks for bringing back the memories. EtR and Bo Jackson: two awesome athletes that might have been in the pantheon of sports stars if they could have stayed healthy.

    “5 tool player” doesn’t do Eric the Red justice. He was like no ball player I’ve seen before or since.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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