The 1982 baseball season was one of the worst ever for the Cincinnati Reds. They lost 102 games just six years after winning consecutive World Championships. And thanks to the incredible resurgence of the current Reds, a hundred losses isn’t gonna happen in 2018.
Far from it. They’re going in the right direction.
But you couldn’t say the same about the Redlegs in the days leading up to the 1982 All-Star Game. The three Cincinnati Reds on the National League team, however, were resilient. They played superbly. And Dave Concepcion, a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop, was named the Most Valuable Player in the NL’s 4-1 win.
Since that award was created in 1962, five Reds have been honored. The trophy awarded to the All-Star MVP is named after — who else? — Ted Williams. And Davey Concepcion is the last Red to win it.
Concepcion burst upon the Cincinnati scene in that magical season of 1970. New Manager Sparky Anderson raved about his rookie shortstop. “Concepcion,” said Sparky, “can field the position at shortstop with a pair of pliers.”
A native of Venezuela, Concepcion had great range and a strong arm. At 6’2” tall and with long arms, he was strong going both to his left and right. The big question was this: could he hit?
Sparky gave that job to hitting coach Ted Kluszewski. It took some time, but in 1973, Concepcion had his breakout season. He became one the best shortstops in baseball and was one of three great shortstops in Reds history during a 42-year period (1962-2004) which included Leo Cardenas and Barry Larkin. That’s the Golden Age of shortstops in the history of the Cincinnati Reds, folks.
The 1982 All-Star game was played in Montreal, the first time the event has been played outside of the United States. Concepcion started the game and batted seventh for the National League. Two other Reds, starting pitcher Mario Soto and relief hurler Tom Hume, were named to the team by Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda.
Concepcion was only 1 for 3 that night but he clubbed a two-run homer to dead centerfield off Dennis Eckersley. On top of that, Soto pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just a pair of singles and striking out three . Hume came in and recorded the final out, getting future Red Buddy Bell on a flyout. It was a good night for the Reds and the National League.
Concepcion was the fifth Red to win the Ted Williams All-Star MVP Award:
Tony Perez, 1967
Doggy hit the game-winning home run off Catfish Hunter in the 15th inning.
Joe Morgan, 1972
Cincinnati’s second baseman had the game-winning hit in the 10th inning off Dave McNally.
George Foster, 1976
Slammed a home run off Catfish Hunter and knocked in three runs.
Ken Griffey, 1980
The Reds rightfielder went 2 for 3 at the plate, including a home run off Tommy John.
Dave Concepcion, 1982
Johnny Bench came very close to winning the award in the 1969 All-Star Game in Washington DC. Bench was 2 for 3 with a walk and a homer but was robbed of a second home run when left fielder Carl Yasztremski made a spectacular catch in the 7th inning. Willie McCovey was named MVP after he crushed two home runs in a 9-3 NL rout of the American League at RFK Stadium.
And of course, everyone remembers Pete Rose’s mad dash home in the 1970 All-Star Game at Riverfront Stadium. But it was Yaz again robbing a Red by having a great night at the plate: 4 for 6 and he won the MVP despite the National League emerging with a win.
Wouldn’t it be nice — and wouldn’t it be another shot across the bow of the teams in the NL Central — if Scooter Gennett or Joey Votto or Eugenio Suarez could win the MVP award at the All-Star Game this week and send another message that the Cincinnati Reds are back?
John lives in Galesburg, Illinois and has been a Reds fan all of his life. He is a retired firefighter and a Veteran who served for 32 years but stays active at the local Humane Society. His favorite Reds players include Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Tony Perez, Eric Davis, and Bronson Arroyo. While writing, he frequently listens to the music of Led Zeppelin and Steely Dan. He is flanked in the photo by ever-loyal “Reptar.”