Back in September, here in the digital pages of Redleg Nation, our Greg Gajus was emphatic that there was a glaring omission among inductees to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. His piece was entitled, “The Missing Man: Fred Norman for the Reds Hall of Fame.”
I can only speculate on why (Fred) Norman has been overlooked when nearly every one of his teammates has been inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame. Part of it is that he was a pitcher, and if you play word association with any Reds fan from that era and say “Big Red Machine” the response will be “The Great 8” or “greatest lineup ever” or “cool statues outside GABP”. Somebody had to pitch, and the pitchers were better than they were given credit for, but they suffered in comparison to the offensive stars of the team. Norman was not a home-grown player like Gullett or Nolan, and his best moments and seasons didn’t match up with the 1975-76 pinnacle of the Reds dynasty. Another possible reason is that the Reds Hall of Fame did not induct anyone from 1989-1997, creating a large backlog of worthy candidates. The four pitchers that were the biggest contributors to the Big Red Machine were Jack Billingham, Don Gullett, Gary Nolan and Fred Norman, and the logic that says three of these should be in and one out escapes me. One can debate rather a small or large Hall is preferable, but with 80 players and 86 members, the Reds Hall of Fame clearly prefers the large hall philosophy. Norman is clearly qualified for the Reds Hall of Fame. …
Here’s hoping someone on the Reds Hall of Fame Veterans Committee reads this – and they do the right thing and induct Fred Norman into the Reds Hall of Fame. I will look forward to seeing him get his red jacket and take his rightful place alongside his legendary teammates in the Reds Hall of Fame.
We’re going to take full credit here, because the Reds Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee has selected Norman and former Cincinnati manager Dave Bristol for induction later in 2018. Norman and Bristol will join Adam Dunn, who was elected on the Modern Player Ballot:
The trio will be honored during Reds Hall of Fame Induction Weekend on July 21 and 22 and brings the Hall’s membership ranks to 89 total including 81 players, 5 managers and 3 executives.
Quotes from Reds Hall of Famers on the new inductees:
• Joe Morgan on Norman:
“When Freddie came to the Reds, he quickly became an important part of our pitching staff that was underrated. He was a small guy with a big heart, like me, and helped us win divisions and World Championships.”
• Jack Billingham on Norman:
“Fred had a screwball, changeup, curveball, slider and could locate his fastball. He learned how to pitch, not just throw, and had a great career. I’m happy for Fred now and that all four starters are in the Reds Hall of Fame. I always felt that our four starters could compare with almost anybody.”
• Johnny Bench on Bristol:
“Dave is now being recognized for his building of the Big Red Machine. He developed the likes of Rose, Helms, Perez and many more and instilled in his players a drive to excel. A tough competitor and a love for baseball that was off the charts, he lived and breathed the game.”
• Tommy Helms on Bristol:
“I wish every young baseball player had a chance to play for Bristol. He did everything he could to make you a better player and a better person. I was blessed to play for him.”
Congratulations to Norman, Bristol, and Dunn on their upcoming inductions.
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.