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.

Uniform

1999 – Home Whites

Debut Date 

4/5/1999

“I love the patches. It’s a lot better than the ‘C’. It gives people more reason to buy the merchandise.”

~ Eddie Taubensee

 “I think they are the best, possibly in all of baseball. I like the sleeveless look – from what I hear they’re real comfortable to play in – and I really like the black trim. I think they are really classy.”

~ Brian Johnson

 “’Sweet,’ is all I can say. You can tell they are real quality.”

~ Aaron Boone

Black, as a uniform color, gained popularity in the early 1990’s when the Chicago White Sox brought it back from the early 20th Century. The Reds had avoided adding any black to their uniforms until 1999. This uniform might be one of the most debated styles ever donned by the team.

Team Record that Season 

96-67, 2nd in the NL Central, 1 Game Back. Lost playoff game.

In the mid-seventies it was common to hear older Reds fans discuss the wonderful 1956 Reds, a team that didn’t win a pennant, yet captured the hearts of the fan base with home run records and an unexpected surge into a viable franchise. The 1999 team was similar in those respects and today you still hear fans claim this was their favorite Reds team ever.  After a slow start, they fought their way out of fourth place in May, climbed up to third in June, and on July 1st took possession of first. A week later they relinquished it, spending the majority of the season tailing the Houston Astros by 2-3 games. Three months from the day they held first place, they tied the Astros with three games left. The rest is history. Many don’t care to rehash it and most choose to remember the good times before that fatal trip to Milwaukee and the buzz saw disguised as Al Leiter. Both the ‘56 and ‘99 squads get extra love because their success was unexpected, especially on the heels of several losing seasons. Both teams had lots of slugging, questionable starters and were thought by the community to be like a family (close knit, devoid of huge superstars, approachable). Both duked it out ‘til the very end, only to fall during the last week of the season. The following year failed to produce the same result and the ensuing years were disappointments as the team got worse. Each season was a summer romance – full of lust, joy, and then it was over. Fondly remembered, discussed, debated and longed for.

Team Attendance 

2,061,222 (11th of 16)

In 1999, the highest attendance games were Opening Day and the playoff loss to the Mets, both topping 54,000. Still new to the fans were “Interleague Play” games, which drew 98,397 to two contests against northern rivals, the Indians, in mid-June. There are some warts in the attendance tally that year – thirty-two percent of the Reds home contests drew less than 20,000, many early in the year as the team struggled to establish an identity. June was the best month. In eleven games, the combination of interleague play, the advent of summer, and better play by the Reds drew a total of 356,938 fans to the stadium – now named “Cinergy Field”.

Reds Manager 

Jack McKeon

“Leadership starts at the top. I had my thoughts and voiced them in the past, but I wasn’t listened to much.”

~ Jack McKeon, the day he was fired by the Reds 

Jack McKeon was hired as a mid-season replacement manager five times in his long career. He could be seen as the Winston Wolfe of baseball.

  • Oakland – 1978
  • San Diego – 1988
  • Cincinnati – 1997
  • Florida – 2003
  • Florida – 2011

Jack was a polarizing figure who received more love from the press than his players (especially older players). His teams generally performed better in the second half of the season. He employed small ball techniques and believed in leadoff hitters who got on base, over speedy types like Deion Sanders. He also kept his relievers in games for longer stretches than almost any manager in baseball history.

“I really think the evolution of the middle relievers is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the last 20 years. What I think is they’ve developed a type of player that comes in and throws 1 or 2 innings and throws very hard and they get them out of there after they’ve faced 6 or 7 batters. The Kyle Farnsworth type of player.”

~ Chris Welsh, 2007

It’s true that the middle reliever had been an integral part of baseball for the past 30+ years, but the workload back then wasn’t as it is in today’s game. Currently, the new prototype of super reliever we are starting to see is the 50 inning, 70+K  pitchers.

Historically, pondering relievers and their workload wasn’t something fans of the game spent a lot of time doing. When the ball was deader, the game a bit slower and guys played more under the sun than the lights, and a complete game by the pitcher was the norm. Below are Reds pitchers who have completed 20 or more games in consecutive seasons.  Note that not one Reds pitcher has completed 20 or more games since the 1940’s.

Player Years
Bob Ewing 1903-08
Bucky Walters 1939-44
Noodles Hahn 1900-04
Eppa Rixey 1921-23
Red Lucas 1931-33
Paul Derringer 1938-40
Bill Phillips 1901-02
Andy Coakley 1907-08
Fred Toney 1916-17
Dutch Ruether 1919-20
Johnny Vander Meer 1942-43

The above was de rigueur. Simply put, a complete game was part of the blueprint for pitching success in the days of wool suits, 12-cent dinners and women named Florence.

This started to change in the late 1930’s when White Sox hurler Clint Brown appeared in 53 games and pitched 100 innings during the 1937 season, all without starting a game. Once this feat was accomplished, it took a few years for the rest of baseball to catch on. The offensive surge of the postwar era created a greater need to temper the onslaught of bats with fresh arms. The concept of relief pitches really took off. Between 1946 and 1968 a total of 103 pitchers tallied 100 innings in a season, with a start or less. After 1968, several factors helped to reshape an offensive approach that had become stagnate –the division format, expansion, the reduction of the mound’s height, and the introduction of the designated hitter. This increase in offense posed a new problem to managers throughout the game – how to beat the increased offense now appearing in the game. Many managers took different paths, but all hoped to segue into a balance that could combat the offensive onslaught.

One approach was the Billy Martin method of extending as many starters as one could (for example, Joe Coleman and Mickey Lolich combined for 662 IP and 45 CG in 1971) and riding a reliever in over a 100 innings (Fred Sherman.) Strategies like that led to unique situations where 3 pitchers could eat up 57% of your total innings pitched. Another was the Sparky Anderson method of spreading the wealth among many starters and having a horse like Wayne Granger or Pedro Borbon eat up the tweener innings between the starters and the closer(s).

A discussion of the 100 inning reliever isn’t complete without calling out one of its greatest boosters, Jack McKeon.  The Kansas City Royals hired long-time Minor League coach and manager Jack McKeon to be their manager in 1973. After the season McKeon would be in the front office and on the bench for the next 38 years, retiring in 2004 and returning in 2011. During his early years, the 100 inning reliever was a regular occurrence in the big leagues.

From 1970-1979, 122 relievers threw over 100 innings, with 1 or less start. In 1978, six men did it in the American League, three of them pitched for Jack McKeon’s Oakland A’s.

Player Year ERA IP
Elias Sosa 1978 2.64 109.0
Bob Lacey 1978 3.01 119.2
Dave Heaverlo 1978 3.25 130.0

It’s tiny pitching events like these that helped fuel the “reliever as the savior” movement that ebbed in the late 1970’s, then surged ahead from 1980-1989 when the total of 100 inning relievers shot up to 137. Suddenly  fans saw players like Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers as more important than the prior generation’s relievers. They also became major players in the fledgling free agent market, and teams jostled to obtain these workhorses to fill the growing gaps that the games’ offense created in the middle-to-late innings.

Below are the pitchers who had the most consecutive seasons with 100 IP less than 1 start and a plus ERA

Player Years +ERA
Rollie Fingers 1974-78 5
Duane Ward 1988-92 5
Hoyt Wilhelm 1952-55 4
Jack Baldschun 1961-64 4
Ron Perranoski 1962-65 4
Mike Marshall 1972-75 4
Kent Tekulve 1976-79 4
Dan Quisenberry 1982-85 4
Dick Radatz 1962-64 3
Pedro Borbon 1973-75 3
Sparky Lyle 1976-78 3
Enrique Romo 1978-80 3
Bob Stanley 1982-84 3
Scott Sullivan 1999-01 3

The apex for these types of pitchers was achieved in 1989 when Mark Davis won the Cy Young Award, a feat that is still debated as the worst choice for the award in the history of the game.

Not up for debate is the absurdity of the contract he received as a free agent from that distinction.

By the way, his manager that year was none other than Jack McKeon.

In the 1990’s, offense increased even more. To combat this, more bodies were placed in the bullpen and these pitchers began to eat up increasing innings that starters used to handle. As pitch counts began to be taken more seriously, the number of pitchers who threw over 100 innings began to drop drastically, By the end of the decade, only 33 relievers topped 100 innings pitched in a season and only 78 topped 90 innings pitched.  In Cincinnati, four of the 100 IP guys and ten of the 90 IP were Reds, and seven of those pitchers pitched for Jack McKeon.

It was mid-1997 when Ray Knight was justly jettisoned from the Reds managerial seat. In the hope of bringing order to a clubhouse in disarray, the Reds hired Jack McKeon, who was known more for his long GM tenure, his quotes, and an ever-present cigar, than his spotty managerial career.

McKeon brought an old school 1970’s approach to the use of the bullpen and had more than a few pitchers to work with. The on-field performance of the Reds’ starting staff almost begged for that approach.

Between 1997 and 2000, the Reds had a workhorse bullpen, and exceeding the league average in ERA was pretty much par for the course. Most of this can be attributed to the usage patterns deployed by Jack McKeon.

ERA vs. The League Average

Player Year ERA G IP ERAvsLG
Jeff Shaw 1997 2.38 78 94.2 1.83
Scott Williamson 1999 2.41 62 93.1 2.16
Danny Graves 2000 2.56 66 91.1 2.08
Scott Sullivan 1999 3.01 79 113.2 1.56
Danny Graves 1999 3.08 75 111.0 1.49
Scott Sullivan 1997 3.24 59 97.1 0.97
Danny Graves 1998 3.32 62 81.1 0.92
Scott Sullivan 2000 3.47 79 106.1 1.17
Stan Belinda 1997 3.71 84 84.0 0.49
Scott Sullivan 1998 5.21 67 102.0 -0.97

At the end of the 2000 season, McKeon was let-go by the Reds. Bob Boone still used Scott Sullivan for more than 100 innings and in 2001, Sully logged 103 innings. Since then, not a single Reds reliever has topped 88 innings pitched.

In all of MLB, since Scott Proctor threw 102 innings in 2006, no reliever has topped 100 innings in a year.

What made the 1999 team so special? Many things, but one thing for sure is that three relievers ate up 22% of the Reds’ innings pitched.

Player ERA LgERA IP
Scott Williamson 2.41 4.57 93.1
Scott Sullivan 3.01 4.57 113.2
Danny Graves 3.08 4.57 111.0

Surprising everyone, in early 2019, the 88-year-old McKeon signed a deal to be a senior adviser in the Miami front office where his son Kasey acts as the Director of Player Procurement.

The Roster 

“This allows us to compete. I think that with the moves we made, we can compete. I’m not saying we can overtake Houston or Atlanta or Los Angeles. But I don’t see why we can’t compete on a daily basis with the next set of clubs.”

~ Jim Bowden

After two losing seasons and diminished attendance, the Reds used the ‘98-‘99 off-season to reshape the core team. Having only hit 138 HR’s in the fall, they promptly dealt team HR leader Brett Boone to Atlanta for Denny Neagle and Michael Tucker, and the next day they dealt Paul Konerko for Mike Cameron. In February they made their biggest move, trading Reggie Sanders and Damian Jackson to San Diego for Greg Vaughn, who in 1998 become the 6th man in National League history to hit 50 HR’s in a season. Through the season, the outfield was a five-headed monster with Jeffery Hammonds and Dmitri Young joining the aforementioned Tucker, Cameron and Vaughn. Pokey Reese stepped into Boone’s spot, flashing leather in a manner not often seen at second base. However, the most volatile part of the Reds roster was the pitching staff. Seventeen pitchers and nine starters appeared for the team in 1999, and retreads like Jason Bere and Steve Avery washed-out in their attempt to rekindle their illustrious past. A strong bullpen and a steady stream of arms helped bridge the gap created by Neagle’s early season arm issues. Despite these obstacles, the team went on to win 96 games in a memorable season.

“That was one of the most tight-knit teams that I’ve ever been on. On and off the field. We just marched to our own drum and it was special. But I can’t take the credit for it. (Barry) Larkin is Mr. Cincinnati. And also, the young guys on that team, you gotta tip your hat to them because they were willing to listen, embrace it, and get better.”

~ Greg Vaughn

Best Red Batter  

Sean Casey, OPS+ 132

Which year is better?

  • .332/.399/.539/.938
  • .290/.337/.469/.805

Most would say the first, but is it that much better?

The first is Sean Casey’s 1999 season, and the second is Lee May’s 1968 season. 1999 happens to be one of the most offense-heavy seasons in MLB history, while 1968 is commonly referred to as the “Year of the Pitcher”. In terms of OPS+, Casey’s season clocks in at a +132, and May’s at +135. The real tell is the total bases. Sean Casey accounts for ~14% of the 1999’s team’s total bases, and Lee May compiled 11% of his teams total bases. During Casey’s 1999 season, he started out fast and furious. In his first 95 games he had a .357/.419/.589/1.008 line with a .378 babip. In his next 62 games, he hit .275/.357/.434/.792 with a .301 babip. This left him with a final line of .332/.399/.539/.938, a fun season for all and his engaging personality helped him garner numerous fans in and out of the game. This performance was so impressive that many expected him to hit like that in each ensuing year, which would only happen once more in 2004. Nonetheless, his breakout performance fit the basic template used by Reds first basemen throughout their history, or at least since Frank McCormick came along in the 1930’s.

Games    PA’s

  • McCormick    1228    4787 – .301/.350/.437  OPS vs League – .077
  • Kluszewski    1339    4961 – .302/.357/.512  OPS vs League – .115
  • Coleman        767    2587   .271/.322/.447  OPS vs League – .017
  • May        761    2841 – .275/.322/.491  OPS vs League – .068
  • Perez        941    3233 – .276/.343/.458  OPS vs League – .076
  • Driessen        1228    3881 – .267/.364/.421  OPS vs League – .053
  • Morris        1049    3382 – .305/.362/.444  OPS vs League – .041
  • Casey        1075    4007 – .305/.371/.463  OPS vs League – .056
  • Votto        1575    5563 – .311/.427/.530  OPS vs League – .202

NOTE: These are only guys with 2500 or more PA’s as First baseman. Perez only played 162 games at First before 1972—his numbers cover 1972-1976 when he was the regular First baseman. 

Best MLB Batter 

Larry Walker, OPS+ 164

“Getting hit by a pitch is like getting a base hit. When I go down to first, it’s the pitcher’s loss….Nobody wants to go in and get dirty. Drop a bunt if you have to. Draw some blood if you have to. Whatever it takes to get a win, you should be out trying to do.

~ Larry Walker

Since integration, the list of players who topped the league’s OPS by more than .300 points, and the number of times they did.

  • Barry Bonds               8
  • Albert Pujols              4
  • Todd Helton               3
  • Stan Musial                3
  • Larry Walker              3
  • Hank Aaron                2
  • Ralph Kiner                2
  • Willie Mays                2
  • Willie McCovey         2
  • Mark McGwire          2
  • Kevin Mitchell           2
  • Willie Stargell            2

Right between Stan Musial and Henry Aaron sits Larry Walker, the best hitter in the National League in 1999 with an insane line of .379/.458/.710/1.168. Despite a long run of hitting prowess, Walker is still saddled with the stigma of playing in the rarified Colorado air and, much like Phillie star Chuck Klein’s situation and the Baker Bowl, he will forever be linked to the park he played in when he dominated pitchers throughout the game. Walker never topped 150 games in a season and when comparing his peak with Klein’s, we need to use seven years of his career to match the same amount of plate appearances that Klein had in five years. If you look at their home and away splits, you can see what a home field advantage can do to a player at their peak. Whether you believe he’s a hall of famer or not, just marvel at these numbers.

Chuck Klein – 3432 PA’s over five seasons – .359/.414/.636/1.050

Home vs. Away

1929

  • .391    .434    .734    1.168
  • .321    .382    .583    .965

1930

  • .437    .482    .792    1.274
  • .332    .391    .578    .969

1931

  • .401    .465    .740    1.205
  • .269    .327    .421    .748

1932

  • .423    .464    .799    1.263
  • .266    .340    .481    .821

1933

  • .467    .516    .789    1.305
  • .280    .338    .436    .774

Larry Walker – 3540 Pa’s over seven seasons – .341/.426 /.642/1.068

Home vs. Away

1995

  • .343    .401    .730    1.131
  • .268    .361    .484    .845

1996

  • .393    .448    .800    1.248
  • .142    .216    .307    .523

1997

  • .384    .460    .709    1.169
  • .346    .443    .733    1.176

1998

  • .418    .483    .757    1.241
  • .302    .403    .488    .892

1999

  • .461    .531    .879    1.410
  • .286    .375    .519    .894

2001

  • .359    .446    .615    1.062
  • .259    .371    .399    .770

2002

  • .406    .483    .773    1.256
  • .293    .416    .549    .965

Best Red Pitcher 

Scott Williamson, ERA+ 194

“He throws hard and has great stuff – especially the splitter. He reminds me of Trevor Hoffman.”

~ Jack McKeon

At age four, Scott Williamson told his parents he was going to be a baseball player when he grew up, and furthermore, he would be a pitcher. In his first year of T-ball, Scott ran out to take his defensive position – pitcher. Small for a pitcher, Williamson claims his large legs helped him regularly reach 97-98 miles an hour on the radar gun. He was a starter until he came to the Reds camp in 1999 and his chance to make the roster increased when Denny Neagle experienced shoulder soreness. In college, Williamson came across former MLB pitchers who helped hone his craft. At Tulane, his catcher was Chad Sutter, son of Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter, the man that made the split finger fastball famous. Later, after transferring to Oklahoma State, he got to interact regularly with former pitcher John Farrell, the team’s coach. It was the Sutter relationship that benefited him most, mainly because Bruce taught him the splitter, a pitch he was particularly proud of. Even though Williamson mastered the pitch, Don Gullet warned him to not overuse it, fearing that his fastball would lose its explosiveness. Gullet liked the pitch, but implored him to only use it in certain situations.

The split-fingered fastball was once the most popular pitch in the game;  it made a star out of Bruce Sutter who learned it from his minor league coach Fred Martin in the early 1970’s. He would eventually win the 1979 Cy Young Award and many pitchers followed his lead throughout the 80’s. San Francisco Giants manager Roger Craig was an early evangelist of the pitch and nearly every Giants hurler threw it during his tenure, including Bill Swift and Jeff Brantley. Houston Astro starter Mike Scott used it regularly (and a spitter) to elevate his status to an elite hurler. Jack Morris dipped into his arsenal often for it. David Cone, Roger Clemons, Kevin Appier and numerous others in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s turned to it as well. The split-fingered fastball is thrown with the fingers split wide apart, with the pitcher employing a fastball motion. The lack of resistance on the throwers arm causes the pitch to die as it reaches the plate, dropping in the zone and causing the batter to catch nothing but air in their swing. It did, however, come with some problems – many thought it a major cause of arm injuries. Essentially, it was an off-speed pitch deployed by hurlers who couldn’t master the change-up. It found its roots in the Forkball, a popular pitch in the 1950’s, thrown with less effort than the splitter. In the 1990’s, a rash of pitchers who used the pitch experienced arm issues, including Bryan Harvey, Rod Beck and John Smoltz. Due to the lack of resistance the hand creates when throwing the pitch, the ensuing pressure is distributed to the throwers forearm, elbow or shoulder, causing strain and sore elbows. Since its heyday some 20 years ago, the pitch has fallen out of favor in the game. Teams like the Angels, Twins, Giants and Reds discourage their youngsters from learning the pitch. Meanwhile, older guys often turn to the pitch as a solution, especially if they see their career in jeopardy – Homer Bailey and Jeff Samardzija are good examples.

Splitting the closer role with Danny Graves in 1999, Williamson struck out over 100 batters in 90 innings, winning the Rookie of the Year award, the last by a Reds player. The Reds would try him as starter in 2000 and in spring of 2001 he tore a ligament in his shoulder which led to Tommy John Surgery. Post-surgery proved to be more difficult for Williamson than his rookie year. He would recover briefly, continuing his career with the Reds until he was traded to Boston in 2003. After a great post-season in 2003, Williamson would never achieve the same level of success, appearing in only 58 more games in his MLB career, eventually kicking around the minor leagues until 2009.  Many wonder to this day if the split-fingered fastball caused his arm damage. Or did that pitch propel him to the major leagues unexpectedly in 1999, a year he truly dominated?

Best National League Pitcher 

Randy Johnson, ERA+ 184

As of Tuesday this week there have been 19,687 men who played Major League Baseball. Of all those men, only 44 pitchers have been 6’8” or taller, .00223%. Baseball is not a big man’s game like basketball, nor is extreme height an advantage as it is for soccer goalies or football tight ends. In fact, full body control is a must for repetitive action like pitching or hitting. Dusty Baker believed that the perfect height for a hitter topped out at 6’ 2” or so, believing that tall players’ swings become longer, slower and thus lose action in the hitting zone. As for pitching, it seems that at 6’ 8” we see a drop-off of successful participants. There have only been seven pitchers who topped-out at 6’ 10”, and only one true star – Randy Johnson.

Johnson appeared in 618 games, 603 of them were starts, which is roughly 27% of the starts made by the group of tall pitchers. In his career he would compile 4135 innings pitched and achieve an ERA more than a full run better than all pitchers, short and tall.

In 1999, Johnson signed with the Diamondbacks, who were in their third season in the National League. He had been dealt to the Astros the prior summer where he went 10-1 and had an unbelievable ERA+ of 322. That winter he was easily the most popular free agent in the game and, aside from Pedro Martinez, he was the most accomplished hurler in all of baseball. An imposing figure who at 35 had an amazing ten more seasons to go before he hung up his spikes. In 1999, Johnson led the league in Innings pitched (271.2), strikeouts (364), ERA+ 184 and batters faced (1079). He would lead the NL in strikeouts for the next three seasons.

Since integration, the best pitchers in the game have been the ones who could string together multiple seasons of domination. Below is the cream of the crop, bundled together in five consecutive seasons. Randy Johnson is in this group and no one should be surprised.

5 YEAR SPANS

Best ERA vs. League

Player Years ERA MLBERA DIFF GS IP
Pedro Martinez 1999-03 2.10 4.76 2.65 135 933.0
Greg Maddux 1994-98 2.10 4.24 2.14 155 1140.1
Randy Johnson 1997-01 2.64 4.57 1.93 167 1227.1
Roger Clemens 1994-98 2.96 4.80 1.84 148 1052.0
Clayton Kershaw 2013-17 1.95 3.74 1.79 141 991.0
Johan Santana 2002-06 2.83 4.52 1.69 133 960.0
Kevin Brown 1996-00 2.51 4.08 1.57 168 1209.2
David Cone 1993-97 3.17 4.73 1.56 127 922.0
Brandon Webb 2006-10 3.19 4.70 1.50 102 702.0
Kevin Appier 1992-96 3.22 4.71 1.49 150 1014.2
Roy Halladay 2002-06 3.17 4.63 1.47 142 1000.0

Only two lefthanders appear in this list, Johnson and Kershaw, and no one is nearly as tall as Johnson – a true outlier in a game that favors smaller men.

Making their MLB Debut

  • Lance Berkman
  • Alfonso Soriano
  • Octavio Dotel
  • Freddy Garcia

Making their MLB Exit

  • Willie McGee
  • Darryl Strawberry
  • Jim Abbott
  • Tom Candiotti

Cincinnati Population

  • 1900 – 325,902
  • 2000 – 331,285

In 1999, Ohio had no cities that exceeded 1,000,000 people, six cities with 100,000 – 1,000,000 people, and 170 cities with 10,000 – 100,000 people. In short, the fan base for any Ohio sports team is spread around. The fans that would populate Reds games were more likely to live outside of the city limits than most of the larger cities in the league. Outside of Cincinnati counties, like Montgomery, Butler and Clermont, have larger growth rates than Hamilton County. In the 21st Century, the Columbus area has replaced both Cleveland and Cincinnati as the most populated city in Ohio, situated 90 miles north of the city. A winning baseball team would benefit greatly from that marketplace, but a losing team will never enhance people to drive hours to be disappointed.

Team Media Sources 

In 1999, it’s obvious that Cable TV and the Internet are rapidly changing the landscape of baseball broadcasting. In 1995, the first MLB game to be broadcast over the internet was executed by RealAudio in Seattle when they transmitted a Mariners – Yankees game. In 1997, The Florida Marlins began online broadcasts, and in April of 1998 the Reds began broadcasting their games on cincinnatireds.com, which also offered articles and a store where you could order the 400-page media guide or sign-up for weekly deliveries of the Red Reporter, a weekly newspaper focusing solely on the Reds. In local media, the Enquirer and Post formed sites to give online access to Chris Haft and John Fay’s takes on the Reds. In Dayton, Cox Media had a site with Hal McCoy’s takes and a chat board where fans could discuss their dislike of each move made by the team. However, if you wanted to watch the team on TV you had to have a cable subscription, something only 65% of the region had at the time. In 1999, the Reds couldn’t get a good over-the-air contract and, with that in mind, they took their product to cable for a set package. With nightly production costs pushing the $15,000 limit, plus a rights fee that made the cost of showing a game around $50,000, the Reds were in a quandary. Recent years of disappointment and the residue of the 1994 lockout still lingering, local advertising couldn’t promise to help cover the cost of a broadcast, much less generate a clear profit. This decision made the Reds the only team in MLB that had no games available on broadcast channels, a fact that rankled long-time broadcaster Marty Brennamen who stated, “I’m stunned. If this was a trend, I’d say there’s something to it . But why is this the only team in baseball in this situation? I’m a firm believer in what goes around, comes around. There’s going to be a time when this team’s games are in demand. And, if I’m the man in charge, I’m going to make them pay dearly to get them.”

Technology 

1999 is the year the dot-com bubble burst and brought down numerous overvalued companies that the public and technology were not ready to support in the still-new world of internet commerce. The telecom industry also crashed when infrastructure assumptions didn’t line-up with reality.

Meanwhile:

  • Electronic Arts  had to recall 100,000 copies of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 99 because an employee placed an “Easter Egg” containing an uncensored copy of South Park’s Jesus vs. Santa episode on the PlayStation disc.
  • The first USB flash drives were developed in April 1999 at M-Systems (now SanDisk).
  • The Big Mouth Billy Bass singing plastic fish was introduced, driving people crazy with its stupidity and making an appearance on an episode of Seinfeld. Al Green said he received more royalties from Big Mouth Billy singing “Take Me to the River” than from any other recording of the song.

Entertainment

In Sports:

The NBA and the NHL are both winter sports that experienced their initial growth and popularity in the populated cities of the Northeast of the United States. 1999 would see both leagues finish their seasons with champions who called Texas home. The Spurs, a relic from the old ABA, won their first championship. Also winning a title for the first time were the Dallas Stars, who originally entered the league in Minnesota as the Northstars in the NHL’s mass expansion of 1967.

In Film:

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace makes $924,317,558 worldwide in 1999. (I hated it.)

Best Comedies:

  • Office Space
  • Election
  • Galaxy Quest

Best off-beat films:

  • American Beauty
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Fight Club

Other notes:

NBC’s Freaks and Geeks on a brief but popular run and spawned numerous actors to populate stoner buddy movies over the next two decades. As the nineties wound down, some were ready to move-on, as evidenced by the hit “The ’90s Suck and So Do You” by the Angry Samoans.

Born 

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. (1/2/99)
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3/16/1999)

Died 

  • Stanley Kubrick, (b. 1928)
  • Joe DiMaggio, (b. 1914)
  • Wilt Chamberlain, (b. 1936)

Notes 

  • February 2nd –  “It was probably like 5:45 in the morning and my phone rings at home, and she goes Greg honey, this is Marge Schott. I just wanted to say you got traded to the Cincinnati Reds. I just want to say congratulations and welcome to the Reds. So I was like, ‘Wow, thank you.’ She says, ‘We have one problem though. There’s no facial hair.’ This is our first conversation, and it was no later than 6 a.m. or so. I was like huh? You just traded for me knowing I have a goatee and I can’t wear it? So, I’m trying to adjust to all the different emotions that I was going through, so I was like, “Uh, get your players back because I’m not shaving.'” ~ Greg Vaughn
  • April 20 – Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott agrees to sell her controlling interest in the Reds to a group headed by Carl H. Lindner, ending her 14–year tenure. The group pays a total of $67 million. John Allen continues to run the team on a strictly-set budget and Schott hands the team over after the season.
  • In the first season opener ever played outside of the United States or Canada, the Colorado Rockies defeat the San Diego Padres, 8–2, in front of 27,104 in Monterrey, Mexico.
  • Logo stuff: After the 1993 season, the primary team logo returned to the wishbone C, making the Mr. Red running man a secondary logo. In 1999, Mr. Red reappeared with a new look — sporting the reintroduced “vest style” uniform (with pinstripes) and now running to the left instead of to the right. For seven years, this would be the Reds’ main logo until he was replaced in 2006 by “Vintage Mr. Red” who had been used as the team’s primary logo once prior in 1960. Unfortunately, Mr. Red is still ambling to the left as did his predecessor and the Reds haven’t won a playoff game since. Maybe they should turn him around?

You can read more about the throwback uniforms and history around each throughout the season right here.

Photo of Riverfront Stadium by Blake Bolinger. It was slightly modified to fit the site. You can see the license for the photo here.

5 Responses

  1. Rut

    Love the history and all the info — but someone forgot a picture of the actual 1999 uniform for the article…

    • Doug Gray

      We didn’t forget it. We don’t have one we can legally use.

      • Rut

        No picture of a 1999 Reds player that you can legally use?

        That sure seems odd…

      • Doug Gray

        Unless you took the photo, or have expressed consent to use a photo, then you are not legally allowed to use that photo. Copyright laws.

  2. Mike

    Normally I do not like the black on the uniforms, but have to admit this uniform is one of my favorites. Right behind the 1962 and the 1970 uniforms….