This week’s respondents are Nick Kirby, Chris Garber, Clay Marshall, Ashley Davis, and Steve Mancuso.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: Who is your favorite Reds player, pre-2000?
Nick: The easy answer, and probably the right answer for anyone born in the 80s is Barry Larkin. But, I want to be different…….Well, I tried to be different, but yeah, Barry Larkin is my favorite Red before the 2000s. I remember when I was probably around ten years old sending an e-mail from my parents account on our dial-up e-mail to the Reds TV booth. I asked George Grande when Larkin was coming back from the DL, and he answered it on TV. Barry Larkin was everything.
Chris: Easy: Eric Davis. The most talented, exciting player in Reds history arrived at a perfect time for me — I was old enough to consume mass amounts of baseball, experienced enough at playing the game to realize that Davis was an alien, but still young enough to idolize athletes. I was also aware enough to realize that young Eric Davis was receiving incredibly unfair, borderline racist treatment from a vocal portion of Cincinnati media — and the “Reds fans” who parroted their drive-time garbage.
The passage of time made those facts even more clear, and revealed Davis’ quiet determination and grace in fighting injuries, cancer, and nonsense — his autobiography (with the late, great Ralph Wiley) is a must-read. But back in 1987, all we knew was that Eric Davis was the greatest baseball player we had ever seen in real life. And that’s still true.
Clay: As I’ve written before, Eric Davis is the reason I became a Reds fan. Growing up, everything he did on the field made him seem like a real-life superhero — from the methodical manner in which he rotated his bat, to the way he slapped his thigh before catching fly balls, to his ability to rob opposing players of home runs seemingly at will. Simply put, he played the game like no one I’d ever seen (and like no one I’ve seen since, with all due respect to Billy Hamilton’s defense), and while it’s unfortunate that he sacrificed his body in the process, I don’t think people like me would be talking about him 30 years later if he went anything less than full-throttle. If anyone offered me a Reds jersey with my choice of any number on the back, I’d pick #44 without hesitation.
Ashley: This is a tough one for me. I was ten in 2000, and I never showed enough of an interest in baseball before that to have a favorite player. Even when my parents took me to a game, I don’t remember much of it to have rooted for any individual player. If I had to choose one though, it would probably be Aaron Boone. I don’t know why I picked him to root for specifically (I was a kid, so it was probably a weird reason), but I was devastated when I found out he got traded in 2003.
Steve: Pete Rose. He wasn’t the best player on the Big Red Machine teams, but he was the heart and soul. Rose hustled. Rose overcame a lack of natural talent through hard work and determination. Rose selflessly moved around the field when his team needed him to change defensive positions. Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench were better players, with more talent than Rose. They also wanted to win and played hard. But Pete was a player that the average kid growing up in Cincinnati playing Knothole Baseball could relate to. He’s the guy you wanted to watch running out a walk, or go from first to third. Again, he was the heart and soul of my favorite baseball teams.
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.