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.
–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.
— 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.