Whether you celebrate the Reds from a starting date of 1869 (first full professional team), 1882 (first year in the American Association), or 1890 (first year in the National League), you have to be somewhat amazed by the longevity of the Cincinnati team. A 2019 version of a uniform from the past is great but knowing what was happening when those uniforms debuted is history, and knowing your history is a big part of being a baseball fan, so we’ll try to cover the key events of the year.
This style actually came out in 1993 and was worn for two years prior to the 1995 Central Division championship. The 1993 squad went 73-89, suffering through a brutal second half with a lackluster 28-44 record. Notable Reds who wore this uniform in 1993 include Roberto Kelly, Dan Wilson, Kevin Mitchell, Juan Samuel, Bip Roberts and Tony Perez in his brief foray as the Reds manager.
Team’s Record that Season
85-59, 1st place NL Central
Due to the lockout of 1994, all of MLB had a shortened schedule of 144 games. The Reds started out 1-8 before reeling off six straight wins. On June 3rd, the team grabbed first place from the Cubs and held the position for the remainder of the season. It was a steady and comfortable lead too, with the Reds often ahead by ten games or more. Their record against the second place Astros was a dominating 12-1, leading them to a strong .590 winning percentage, and placed this Reds team between the 1956 and 1999 Reds teams for the best seasons in winning percentage.
Attendance: 1,837,649 (6th of 14)
The baseball strike in 1981, plus the team’s decline on the field in the early 1980’s, affected the Reds’ attendance numbers greatly. From 1973 to 1980 the team attracted more than two million spectators each season. After the strike in 1981, they would not surpass two million until 1987 when the team righted itself on the field after Pete Rose returned to manage them. The Reds drew an average of 27,829 fans per game from 1987 to 1993, and in 1994 they were in firm control of the Central Division when the mid-season work stoppage occurred. At that time, they drew an average of 32,164 fans to each home contest, an increase of 4,335 per game, and it added up to a lot of beer and hot dogs as well.
The strike seemed to have a particularly bad effect on Reds attendance once the game got out of the bargaining room and onto the field. The team won the division in 1995, yet only averaged 25,522 a game that year, a decrease of 6,642 from the prior year’s average. Numerous empty seats were on display as the Reds lost games one and two of the division series against the Braves. The following three years presented a weaker product on the field and more diminished attendance numbers, averaging only 22,390 a game. The Reds would not top two million again until 1999, making it plain that winning was (and is) the key to drawing fans to the ballpark in Cincinnati, and losing, coupled with labor battles between millionaires and billionaires, is something that could bring the franchise to its knees.
Riverfront Stadium Seating Information 1995
- Blue-level box seats ($11.50) – (Seat Totals – 10,383)
- Green-level box seats ($10.00) – (Seat Totals – 6,827)
- Yellow-level box seats ($10.00) – (Seat Totals – 2,180)
- Red-level box seats ($9.00) – (Seat Totals – 3,224)
- Green-level reserved seats ($8.00) – (Seat Totals – 4,928)
- Red-level reserved seats ($6.50) – (Seat Totals – 18,010)
- “Top Six” Reserved seats ($3.50) – (Seat Totals – 7,400)
Davey Johnson carried the baggage of replacing a fired hero the day he took over for Tony Perez. However, he also had a pedigree and a few World Series rings, including one as manager with the 1986 Mets. Despite these merits, he would never win over Marge Schott, who had been under suspension when Bowden fired Perez after 44 games. It’s very likely that Bowden wanted Johnson all along, only to lose-out when Perez was considered. Schott disapproved of Johnson for living with his long-time girlfriend and promised coach Ray Knight the 1996 managerial position, putting Johnson in the awkward position of lame-duck manager for a team that would go to the NL Championship Series. In 1995, Johnson shuffled the lineup aggressively, rolling out 105 different batting orders (excluding pitcher) in the season’s 144 games.
He was a chance-taker, but wouldn’t wait long to correct a poor decision. For example, Johnson started the season with Willie Greene as 3rd baseman, but quickly pivoted when Green proved not to be ready and went with the Lewis/Branson platoon. Following his dismissal, Johnson would have brief forays as the skipper of the Orioles (1996-1997) and the Dodgers (1999-2000), but would never find a position that distinguished him like the Mets job. Davey Johnson hated the Intentional Walk, his 1994 and 1995 teams played a total of 55 walks in 256 games, one every 4.45 games. In comparison, the 1976 Reds averaged an IBB every 2.9 games. He also never issued an IBB that advanced a lead runner, as did Felipe Alou. Now that’s trusting your process. Johnson had a degree in mathematics and, as an early adopter of personal computers, he fed lineup variations into mainframes in the 1980’s when he began managing. He was sure he had an idea of which path to take and his results confirm that.
In a word, the 1995 roster was “manic.” General Manager Jim Bowden was not only the youngest GM in MLB history, he was the most active since the days of “Trader Frank Lane”. He made big moves early (signing an injured Ron Gant in July 1994, trading Jeff Shaw before the All Star Game) or spun big trades as the deadline crept up (David Wells, Mike Remlinger, Mark Portugal – In, Deion Sanders and C.J. Nitkowski – Out). Bowden was able to cajole payroll money from bottom line-obsessed Marge Schott during the period when she searched office garbage cans for unused paper. During the season, star pitcher Jose Rijo went down, the bullpen was a three man crew of Brantley, Jackson and Hernandez, and yet, they still won.
For power, the corner outfielders (Sanders and Gant) carried the team and Davey Johnson, ever the Weaver disciple, found a perfect duo in Mark Lewis and Jeff Branson and dealt with them expertly, as well as shuffling numerous players that Bowden consistently threw his way. In total, Bowden made 9 trades, 7 FA pickups, and 3 waiver claims. Frank Viola arrived and left and Mariano Duncan returned. Benito Santiago, Jerome Walton, and Eric Anthony factored into the Reds winning the flag a year after they had been on other team’s. Bowden was such a force that, late in August, other GMs lambasted Bowden in the press for claiming every player he was afraid an opponent was targeting. Bowden replied, “We played by the rules, making our deals before the deadline. We’re going to block teams from doing waiver deals, make teams go with what they’ve got at the deadline.”
As a Reds fan, you should be aware that essentially the team had only 4 shortstops from 1950-2004, though sixty-seven men played shortstop for the Reds during that span. In a total of 8,680 games, 80% of those games were played by four men, and 51% of them were played by two men.
For reference, here are the National League and American League in games played leaders at shortstop since 1950:
1500 games appears to be the lower end of the benchmark for extreme longevity at the SS position, while 2000 is the number achieved by upper echelon shortstops.
In the AL, six players played at least 2000 games, while in the NL, seven players achieved that milestone. The AL has had four players who started at least 2000 of their games with one team. In modern MLB history there have been a total of 22 men who logged 2000 appearances at shortstop. 77% of them appeared on the field after World War 2 and three of them were Reds. (Roy McMillan split his games among three teams, but played the majority (1348) as a Red.) The Reds’ run of 50+ years of SS stability began when Roy McMillan appeared in 85 games for the Reds in 1951. From 1952-1958 he played in over 145 games at the shortstop.
In 1960, twenty-one-year-old Leo Cardenas appeared in Cincinnati for the first time. Initially, he was mostly a bench player, yet shared some SS duties with McMillian that summer. Reports on his play must have convinced the team’s new GM Bill DeWitt to move ahead with his first deal that winter when he flipped McMillan to the Braves for Joey Jay and Juan Pizarro. By 1962, Cardenas would eventually own the position outright and, 1,157 games later, the Reds would start the 1969 season for the first time since 1950 that McMillan or Cardenas didn’t man the shortstop position in Cincinnati.
1969 was the last full season that the Reds played at Crosley Field and the first full season of divisional play. That year, the position was split between Woody Woodward and Darrel Chaney. Not the most stellar pair, they posted below average fielding numbers and did nothing to solidify a position that was a noted weakness throughout the season. As hitters, they didn’t produce either. Nor did utility man Chico Ruiz, who probably left the greatest impression as a shortstop that season when he play-attacked Chief Noc-A-Homa in a mock Indian raid and was flipped by the Braves’ mascot.
Two months later, Chico was an Angel and the Reds were talking internally about upgrading the position, many counting on a youngster named Davey Concepcion. It took a couple of years for Davey to fully grab the job and when he did, he held on tight and stayed long enough to watch both Pete and Tony leave, return and retire.
In 1985, the Reds used their 1st-round pick on a college position player for the first time.
The prior year, pitcher Pat Pacillo had been the first college player chosen by the Reds in the 1st-round of the 20th Amateur Draft
And who was the position player?
Barry Larkin: Shortstop, University of Michigan.
1985 was also the last year that Davey Concepcion played over 100 games at shortstop in a season.
Like Roy McMillan, Davey was tasked to share his long-held spot with his eventual successor, Barry Larkin who won the spot from Kurt Stillwell.
From 1970-2004 the Reds had 10 players who appeared in at least 100 games at SS:
- Woody Woodward 1971
- Pokey Reese 2001
- Kurt Stillwell 1987
- Pokey Reese 1997
- Jeff Branson 1993
- Tom Foley 1984
- Darrel Chaney 1973
- Kurt Stillwell 1986
In 1995, Barry Larkin won the MVP and he was arguably better the year after. You could also argue that Barry Bonds deserved that MVP. Barry Larkin retired following the 2004 season and since then the Reds have been looking for a shortstop to match the longevity and legacy of the past.
Cincinnati Reds Shortstops Games played 2005-2019:
- Zack Cozart 721
- Paul Janish 283
- Jose Peraza 245
- Felipe Lopez 224
- Alex Gonzalez 171
- Jeff Keppinger 155
- Orlando Cabrera 121
- Jose Iglesias 110
- Eugenio Suarez 96
- Edgar Renteria 86
- Royce Clayton 43
- Jerry Hairston Jr. 34
- Wilson Valdez 33
- Ivan DeJesus Jr. 30
- Juan Castro 30
- Cesar Izturis 29
- Pedro Lopez 12
- Kris Negron 10
- Didi Gregorius 6
- Blake Trahan 5
- Zach Vincej 3
- Jake Elmore 3
- Enrique Cruz 3
Best National League Hitter
Barry Bonds, OPS 1.009
1995 was the fifth consecutive season that Bonds had an OPS over 1.000. He would have 10 more in a row until he fell short with a .999 OPS in 2005. In 1978, his father Bobby Bonds hit 31 HR’s and had 43 steals. It was the fifth time he would top 30/30 in those two categories. Since 1978, hitting 30 home runs and stealing 30 bases has been achieved 52 more times, and the only other player to do it five times is Barry Bonds.
Barry and his father Bobby are easily the greatest father-son combination in MLB history. Combined, they produced an array of impressive numbers:
- 4835 Games
- 20,696 PA’s
- 4821 Hits
- 1,094 HRs
- 975 SB
As of today, there have been 245 father-son combinations in MLB and currently the Blue Jays have three sons of former stars (two HOF’s) on their team.
The first son of a player to appear in MLB was Jack Doscher, who played for Brooklyn in 1903. his father, Herm, had played for Brooklyn in the National Association thirty years prior. There have been four former players who had sons, as well as grandsons, play MLB (Gus Bell, Ray Boone, Joe Coleman, Sam Hairston) and there have been 16 players who had more than one son make the show.
Players with more than one Son in MLB:
- Buddy Bell
- Bob Boone
- Jerry Hairston Sr.
- Sandy Alomar Sr.
- Jimmy Cooney
- Chris Cron
- Dave Duncan
- Larry Gilbert
- Dave LaRoche
- Manny Mota
- Tony Peña
- Cal Ripken Sr.
- Kevin Romine
- George Sisler
- Mel Stottlemyre
- Dixie Walker Sr.
- George Sisler
- Earl Averill
- Yogi Berra
- Craig Biggio
- Eddie Collins
- Vladimir Guerrero
- Tony Gwynn
- Connie Mack
- Tony Pérez
- Tim Raines
- Ed Walsh
- Freddie Lindstrom
- Iván Rodríguez
- Roberto Alomar
- Cal Ripken Jr.
- Ken Griffey Jr.
Sons of Negro League players: Lyman Bostock and Reggie Jackson
Sons of Japanese League players: Derrek Lee and Hiroki Kuroda
Sons of South of the Border League players: Luis Tiant, Luis Aparico and Orlando Cepede
Sons of AAGPBL players: Casey Candaele
It really is a game of father and sons…and in Casey’s case, moms.
Best Red Pitcher
Pete Schourek, 18 RSAA
Don Gullet’s legendary status began in high school. He was All-State in three sports as a prep school star. He once scored 72 points in a football game and pitched a perfect game, striking out 20 of the 21 players. Drafted by the Red, he made the team at age 19 and was their most electrifying pitcher throughout the early 70’s. He would be the first Red to test the free agent waters in 1976. The day before Davey Johnson came on, Don Gullet was moved from the bullpen coach position to the pitching coach. It’s here that Gullet spun his third legend status as a fixer. He was known for adjusting and saving guys’ careers once they were discarded by other clubs – Jeff Brantley, Mike Remlinger, Pete Harnisch, Elmer Dessens among them.
Perhaps his greatest turnaround was with Pete Schourek in 1995. At 6’5”, the lefty Schourek had never been able to harness his stuff in the Mets’ system, going 5-12 for them in 1993 and allowing 40 more hits than innings pitched. The next spring, was placed on waivers and was picked up by the Reds. When the 1994 season was postponed, his record stood at 7-2 and his role was firmly set in the Reds rotation. In 1995, he put it together like he had never done before, logging 190 innings, going 18-7 with 160 K’s and a WHIP of 1.067. It was a season for the ages as Schourek would never approach those numbers again, nor possess the durability needed to achieve them. For the next few years, Reds fans would scour the papers for pitchers who had been cut, hoping that Don Gullet could gerrymander their decline into an abrupt turnaround. Guys like Mike Morgan, Frank Viola, Steve Avery and Shawn Estes where given chances throughout his tenure.
Best Runs Saved Against Average for Reds starters during the Gullet Era (1993-2003)
10 Starts min/10 RSAA at least
Best National League Pitcher
Greg Maddux, 64 RSAA
In 1987 Greg Maddux was 21-year-old pitcher on the Cubs with a 5.61 ERA. In mid-August he started against the defending Champion Mets. He only lasted 3.2 innings, walking five and giving up six hits. By the end of the day the Mets would score 23 runs, four percent of their season total. Two days later Maddux would appear as a reliever for an inning against Atlanta in a loss. Two days later he would appear again in the relief role for two innings in another loss. Greg Maddux would pitch for 20 more years in the National League, but never appear as a relief pitcher again. He would pitch in 708 games, all as a starter, and complete 107 of them. He finished his career with a 347-209 record and 3.06 ERA. 1995 was his best season. He had a 1.63 ERA vs. the leagues’ 4.18, with an impressive 64 RSAA leading the Braves to their first World Championship since 1957. In 1995 Greg Maddux pitched 209 innings and only walked 23 players and three of those were intentional. In 28 starts, Maddux had no walks in in 12 games. His worst appearance was in early August when the Reds coaxed 5 bases on balls from him on their way to a 9-3 victory. In that win, Hal Morris was walked twice by Maddux, once intentionally. Hal Morris faced Maddux 59 times in his career and hit a strong .370/.414/.463/.877 against the Hall of Famer. Most players could not begin to make that claim.
Only nine men have thrown 5,000 innings in MLB history. Maddux might be the last one to join that club.
|Grover C. Alexander||5189.0||599|
Making their MLB Debut
- David Bell
- Johnny Damon
- Scott Hatteberg
- Derek Jeter
- Joe Randa
Making their MLB Exit
- Todd Benzinger
- Billy Bean
- Don Mattingly
- Dave Winfield
- Lou Whitaker
The 1990 census listed Cincinnati as the 45th largest city in the United States, with a population of 364,040, slightly above the 1900 population when the city was ranked 10th in the country. Other Midwest cities with MLB teams within a four-hour drive of Cincinnati show a pattern of peak populations occurring between 1930-1960, all fueled by the post-war industrial boom.
- 1950 503,998
- 1960 502,550
- 1940 455,610
- 1970 452,524
- 1950 676,806
- 1940 671,659
- 1930 669,817
- 1960 604,332
- 1950 1,849,568
- 1960 1,670,144
- 1940 1,623,452
- 1930 1,568,662
- 1950 914,808
- 1940 878,336
- 1930 900,429
- 1960 876,050
Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to see why The Big Ten was a dominating conference in Football, Basketball, and many other sports during these peak eras. There were more bodies in the middle of the country than today.
Team Media Sources
After more than a decade of shuffling TV announcers, the Reds locked down on a combination that would last for the next two decades when they partnered George Grande and Chris Welsh for 90 games in 1993. The 1994 labor stoppage was partially fueled by small market teams fighting large market teams over the growing amount of TV money and how most of it seemed to only find its way to teams with Superstations. A good example of how this affected the Reds is the plethora of games available on a Friday night in June 1991:
- Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia – Channel 5 (NBC) – 7:30
- Atlanta vs. Montreal – TBS – 7:30
- Houston vs. New York Mets – WOR – 7:30
- Oakland vs. Milwaukee – ESPN – 8:30
- Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego – WGN – 10:00
- St. Louis vs. Los Angeles – ESPN (Joined in Progress)
Local advertising revenue was diluted because the hometown Reds couldn’t guarantee that baseball fans would be watching their game. The labor stoppage broke Reds baseball on free TV. Pressure from the network caused longtime carrier WLWT to cut the Reds from their schedule. The Reds would eschew free TV for good and after two years they placed their whole TV package on pay tv.
Toy Story is released, debuts at #1, and remains on the film charts for 18 weeks, marking the first feature-length film solely using computer-generated imagery. It is the first movie trailer I ever downloaded from the internet and it took about two hours via Netscape Navigator.
- Apollo 13
- The Usual Suspects
Music: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens in Cleveland
- November 3 – Mr. Show with Bob and David
- May 7- Matlock (b. 1986)
1995 is all about the Internet, taking the world by storm. It was all browsers, laptops, modems, laplink, Pentium Pro, all internet, all the time.
A few highlights include:
- A former vice president at a Wall Street hedge fund opens an online store focusing on book sales.
- A software engineer named Craig creates a list to address local happenings in San Francisco.
- In Seattle, RealNetworks starts their business streaming audio over the internet, drastically changing the way we listen to music and sports.
- On August 24th thousands show up to CompUSA to purchase Windows 95. An enhanced GUI is the draw. Microsoft Bob however is less well received.
- Andrew Wiggins, Canadian basketball player
- Joey Bosa, American football player
- Gud, Swedish DJ and producer
- Dean Martin, American actor, singer, comedian, and entertainer (b. 1917)
- Mickey Mantle, American baseball player (b. 1931)
- Wolfman Jack, American disc jockey (b. 1938)
- Jerry Garcia, American guitarist (b. 1942)
- Howard Cosell, American sportscaster (b. 1918)
- In 1995 baseball got their first real dose of the Colorado Rockies hitting environment when Dante Bichette, Andres Galleraga, Larry Walker and Vinny Vinny Castilla combined for 139 HR’s, more than eight other NL teams. The Rockies were also the league’s first Wild Card team, losing to the Braves in 5 games.
- The Dodgers signed Hideo Nomo, the first Japanese player in MLB since Masanori Murakami thirty years prior. His corkscrew delivery and devastating forkball enabled him to lead the league in strikeouts, allowing less than six hits every nine innings.
- The pre-season lockout caused some Spring Training drama when “Replacement Players” took the locked-out players place on the diamond. Among them were Kevin Millar, Herm Willingham, Damian Miller, Pete Rose Jr. and Rick Reed. In late July the Reds were drastically in need of a starter and talk circulated around the clubhouse that Reed was being considered. The same thing occurred in San Francisco the week prior and the team had rejected it, causing the front office to not bring up a man many called a “Scab.” The Reds had a talk about it and relief pitcher Jeff Brantley declared, “If they call him up, they better put his locker in a toilet stall.” Brantley changed his tune once Reed was in the room, welcoming him and thus defusing a situation that a winning team could do without.
- A fact that was lost on me back in the day was that Ron Gant was the one who crushed a walk-off home run against Rob Dibble, who tore off his jersey in disgust, which is a lasting image of Rob Dibble for many Reds fans.