When Joey Votto won the 2010 National League MVP Award, it marked the 12th time that a Red had won the Award since it’s inception in 1911 (no award was given from 1915-23 or in 1930).

Reds winners are listed below, and in deference to Joey Votto’s quote about batting average (“we all know that batting average is kind of an overrated statistic”), I’ll use more modern metrics for their performance.

1938, Ernie Lombardi, catcher, .342 batting average/.391 OBP/.524 SLP
1939, Bucky Walters, pitcher, 27-11, 2.29 ERA, 137 K’s
1940, Frank McCormick, 1st base, .309/.367/.482
1961, Frank Robinson, outfield, .323/.404/.611
1970, Johnny Bench, catcher, .293/.345/.587
1972, Johnny Bench, catcher, .270/.379/.541
1973, Pete Rose, outfield, .338/.401/.437
1975, Joe Morgan, 2nd base, .327/.466/.508
1976, Joe Morgan, 2nd base, .320/.444/.576
1977, George Foster, outfield, .320/.382/.631
1995, Barry Larkin, shortstop, .319/.394/.492
2010, Joey Votto, 1st base, .324/.424/.600

You most likely know about most, if not all, of these guys. Lombardi, Walters, and McCormick were stars that played with the 1939-40 Reds teams. Robinson was the best player of the late 50’s/early 60’s and played on the 1961 World Series team. Bench, Rose, Morgan, and Foster were stars from the Big Red Machine World Series teams. Larkin was a star from the 1990 World Series team, and Votto broke many Reds hitting records from this past season.

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November 21, 1870: The Cincinnati Red Stockings were no more. On this date, the Cincinnati Base Ball Club announced it would only use amateur players for the 1871 season. From “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder:

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October 21, 1877: Does the curveball really curve or is it an optical illusion? It’s easy for us to see today with digital graphics, but even when I was a child, I would sometimes come across “scientific” sports articles discussing the physics of how a pitched baseball curved or whether it was actually an optical illusion.

Well, as is the case with most things, the magazine articles I read as a child weren’t exactly full of original ideas. Back in 1877, the folks managing the Cincinnati Reds team of the National League conducted a demonstration to prove that a pitched ball could curve. Unfortunately for the 1877 Reds, this may have been the high point of the season that had concluded on October 2. The 1877 Reds were 15-42 in their second year of existence, 25 1/2 games behind the league champion Boston Red Caps. On the flipside, the 15-42 season was an improvement. In 1876, the team had gone 9-56.

From “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder:

A demonstration is conducted in Cincinnati prior to an exhibition game between the Reds and Boston to prove that a pitched baseball actually curves. A wooden stake was driven into the ground just in front of home plate. Boston’s Tommy Bond, a right-handed pitcher, threw from the right side of the pitcher’s box, and the ball curved around to the left side of the stake. To prove the ball was not influenced by the wind or any other atmospheric condition, Cincinnati’s left-handed pitcher Bobby Mitchell curved a toss around the right side of the stake.

It’s timely that or fortunate that the demonstration took place in Cincinnati in 1877. One of the Reds’ pitchers that year was Hall of Famer Candy Cummings, who is credited with having “invented” the curveball. Cummings was the most commonly used Reds pitcher that season, going 5-14 with a 4.34 ERA (61 ERA+). Cummings (career 21-22) is one of only three pitchers in the Hall of Fame with lifetime records under .500, along with modern day reliever Rollie Fingers (114-118) and Negro League star Satchel Paige who didn’t make his Major League debut until age 41 and went 28-31 (it’s thought his Negro Leagues record was 103-61).

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October 20, 1972: Pete Rose hit the first pitch of the game for a home run and the Reds later overcame a 4-2 deficit in defeating the Oakland A’s, 5-4, to stay avoid elimination in the 1972 World Series. The Reds now trailed the A’s three-games-to-two through five games. Rose’s first inning homer gave the […]

October 9, 1876: The first National League Cincinnati Reds team finished the worst season in Reds history with an 11-0 lost to the Hartford Dark Blues. The Reds, or Porkopolitans as they were sometimes called, went 9-56, a .138 won-loss percentage, and finished 42 1/2 games behind the first place Chicago White Stockings.

The first Reds team had a genuine superstar, Charley Jones, who batted .286 with a .724 OPS (154 OPS+) and was second in the league with four home runs. Those were the only home runs the Reds hit all season. Jones was the only Red to have a slugging percentage over .279. Over the next decade, Jones became one of baseball’s best known and very best players with several teams signing him to contracts, but that’s another story. The Reds most common pitcher (carefully chose the word “common”) was Dory Dean who finished the season 4-26 with a 3.73 ERA (ERA+ 59). He led the team in games pitched and innings pitched despite missing the first two months of the season. His .133 winning percentage is the worst ever by a one-year pitcher with a minimum of 20 decisions.

At least the Reds finished the season. The New York Mutuals and the Philadelphia Athletics quit the season with two weeks to go and found their teams expelled from the National League. The nation’s two largest cities did not have major league baseball teams for at least the next five seasons. Philadelphia did not get another major league baseball team until 1882 when the American Association granted them a franchise. The National League granted a franchise to Philadelphia in 1883 in response to the AA move. The National League and American Association both granted New York franchises for the 1883 league seasons.

October 9, 1898: The Reds’ Dusty Miller collects eight hits in a Reds doubleheader with the Cleveland Spiders. The Reds won the first game, 12-5, but the second game resulted a 6-6 tie with the game called after seven innings due to darkness.

In the first game, Miller was 5-5 with five singles against Hall of Famer Cy Young. In the second game, he had a single, a double, and a triple. For the season, Miller batted .299 and led the Reds with 99 runs scored and 90 rbi. Miller played seven major league seasons, five with the Reds. His best Reds season was 1895, when he batted .335 with 10 homers, 112 rbi, 103 runs scored, 31 doubles, 16 triples and an .888 OPS (124 OPS+). The best hitter for the 1898 Reds was Mike Smith, a former 34-game winning pitcher for the Red Stockings in 1887. Smith batted .342 with an .858 OPS (139 OPS+).

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October 8, 1904: Rookie second baseman Miller Huggins strokes three triples in an 8-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. The Reds’ win enabled them to sweep a doubleheader as they won the first game, 6-0.

The Reds were second in the league in 1904 with 92 triples, 10 behind Pittsburgh’s 102. Cy Seymour and Joe Kelley both tied for third in the league with 13 triples. Rookie Huggins finished with seven. For the season, Huggins batted .263 with a .377 OBP (OPS+ 110). Over six seasons with the Reds, Huggins batted .260 with a .362 OBP. He played 13 major league seasons, but is most famous for managing the New York Yankees to their first six World Series titles.

The 1904 Reds finished the season 88-65, in third place, 18 games behind the New York Giants. Seymour was their most effective hitter, batting .313 with 26 doubles and 13 triples (134 OPS+), while manager-1b Kelley batted .281 with 21 doubles and 13 triples (OPS+ 121). The Reds’ asset was their pitching, for they had six starting pitchers with ERA+ of 112 or higher. The Reds were third in the league with an ERA of 2.34. Jack Harper was 23-9 with a 2.30 ERA; Noodles Hahn was 16-18 with a 2.06 ERA; and Tom Walker was 15-8 with a 2.24 ERA. Win Kellum was 15-10 with a 2.60 ERA.

October 8, 1919: The Chicago White Sox get a complete game victory from Ed Cicotte and two run singles from both Shoeless Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch as they pull within four games to three by defeating the Reds, 4-1, in the seventh game of the World Series. The major principals for the White Sox were all later said to have been in on the Black Sox fix for the Series. Dolf Luque pitched four innings on one-hit shutout baseball in relief for the Reds.

October 8, 1939: The Yankees score three times in the tenth inning to sweep the 1939 World Series from the Reds. The Reds made four errors in the final game of the 1939 Series, and included the play noted for “Lombardi’s Snooze.”

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October 3, 1890: Reds owner Aaron Stern sells the Reds to a group of investors, headed by Albert Johnson, who are tied to the newly formed Players League. The Reds temporarily withdraw from the National League just one year after being readmitted to the league following their 1890 banishment.

October 3, 1891: John Reilly smashes three triples in a game for the second time in his career as the Reds defeat the Chicago Colts, 15-9, in Chicago. Reilly is one of only four players, and the only Red, to hit three triples in a game twice in their careers. The win keeps the Reds out of last place as they finish the season 56-81, one game ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

October 3, 1919: The Reds lose the first World Series game in their history, 3-0, to the Chicago White Sox in Chicago. The Reds now lead the White Sox in the Series, two games to one.

Rookie Dickie Kerr pitched a three-hitter and walked one to pitch the White Sox to victory. Kerr retired the last 15 batters of the game allowing only three runners to reach second base during the game.

Dolf Luque pitches one inning in the game for the Reds, becoming the first Hispanic American to appear in a World Series game.

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October 2, 1877: The Reds finish one of their worst season in Cincinnati baseball history, by losing to the Chicago White Stockings, 13-1. The 1877 Reds, who had disbanded and restarted at mid-season, finish the year 15-42 in last place, 25 1/2 games behind the first place Boston Red Caps. The Red Caps were remnants of the original Cincinnati Red Stockings team, led by George Wright and managed by brother Harry Wright. The 1877 Reds won-loss percentage of .263 was tied for second worst of all time.

The 1877 Reds were led by superstar Charley Jones, who batted .310 with an .819 OPS (168 OPS+) in 55 games. He had the second highest WAR (wins above replacement rating) in the league in 1877 (3.2), not that he knew that at the time since it’s a recently developed metric. Shortstop-manager Jack Manning batted .317 (OPS+ 151) and outfielder-manager Lip Pike (142 OPS+) also had strong years. The Reds used three different managers during the season. Pitching was the Reds’ downfall as their staff ERA (4.19) was nearly a run worse than any other team in the league.

October 2, 1892: The St. Louis Browns score eight runs in the top of the first inning, but the Reds come back to win the first game of a double header, 12-10. The Reds also win the second game, 4-1, to sweep the Browns. The 1892 Reds go on to finish in fifth place.

October 2, 1919: The Reds win the second game of the 1919 World Series, 4-2, over the Chicago White Sox in Cincinnati. The Reds now led the best of nine series, two games to one.

The Reds struck for three runs in the fourth inning when White Sox starter Lefty Williams ran into control problems. Williams, who had averaged 1.8 walks/9 innings for the season, walked three Reds hitters in the inning leading to three Reds runs on a single by Edd Roush and a triple by Larry Kopf. The Reds added an insurance run in the sixth when Greasy Neale singled home Roush. The White Sox scored their two runs in the seventh when Ray Schalk singled to score two, aided by two Reds throwing errors on the play.

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October 1, 1919: The Reds win their first World Series game in their history, 9-1, over the Chicago White Sox at Redland Field in Cincinnati.

The baseball game story: The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Reds’ leadoff hitter Morrie Rath was hit by a Eddie Cicotte pitch to start the game. Jake Daubert singled Rath to third base and Rath scored on a Heinie Groh sacrifice fly. The White Sox tied the game in the top of the second when Chick Gandil singled home Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The Reds broke it open in the fifth. With one out, Pat Duncan singled to right, but was forced out at second base on a grounder by Larry Kopf. Greasy Neale reached on an infield hit and Ivey Wingo followed with a single, scoring Kopf and advancing Neale to third with Wingo advancing to second base on the throw. Pitcher Dutch Ruether then tripled, scoring two more runs. Rath followed with a double to score Ruether and than Rath scored on a single to right, with Rath advancing to second base on the throw to the plate, the Reds now leading 6-1. The White Sox finally pulled their 29-game winning ace Cicotte, with reliever Roy Wilkinson inducing Groh to fly out to centerfield to end the inning.

The Reds added two insurance runs in the seventh inning when Daubert led off with a triple and scored on a Groh single. Edd Roush reached first safely with Groh advancing to third base when first baseman Gandil mishandled the throw on a sacrifice bunt. Groh then scored on a force out, giving the Reds an 8-1 lead. The Reds scored their ninth and final run in the eighth inning when pitcher Ruether hit his second triple of the game, scoring Neale to provide the Reds winning 9-1 margin.

As a pitcher, Ruether allowed only six hits, and the run allowed was unearned. At the plate, Ruether was 3-3 with a walk, two triples, and three rbi.

Additional story: Baseball’s eyes were alarmed as word got out that the betting odds had changed drastically in the days leading up to the Series. While the Reds had a much better seasonal record (96-44 versus 88-52) the American League was considered to be the stronger league at the time as they had won all but one World Series event during the 1910’s (the only NL team to win was the 1914 Boston Braves). The White Sox had been a 3-1 favorite to win, but had become an 8-5 underdog by the time the Series began.

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September 29, 1879: From baseball-reference.com’s bullpen:

Baseball’s reserve clause is born. National League owners, seeking to limit player salaries, led by Boston’s Arthur Soden come to a secret agreement whereby five players on each team will be “reserved” – off limits to all other clubs. The reserve clause will be in effect for the 1880 season. The owners tell the newspapers that they have agreed upon a uniform contract with no salary advances.

I don’t think they could get away with that today….

September 29, 1919: Also from baseball-reference.com’s bullpen:

Arnold Rothstein decides to finance the World Series fix. The plan calls for Nat Evans to give a $40,000 advance to Sport Sullivan to give to the players with an additional $40,000 to be put in a safe at the Hotel Congress in Chicago, IL. Evans takes $29,000 and bets on the Cincinnati Reds, giving Chick Gandil only $10,000.

The 1919 Reds were an incredible 96-44 during 1919. The Chicago White Sox were 88-52.

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September 22, 1903: “Turkey Mike” Donlin ties a major league record by tripling in four consecutive at bats during a doubleheader split with the Philadelphia Phillies in Cincinnati.

Donlin’s first triple came in the last at bat of a first game 12-7 Reds loss and then he tripled in his first three at bats of the second game Reds 8-1 victory. For the afternoon, Donlin had six hits in seven at bats. For the season, Donlin’s only full season in Cincinnati, Donlin batted .351 with 25 doubles, 18 triples, 7 homers, and 67 rbi, a .420 OBP, and a .936 OPS (155 OPS+). He was second in the league in OPS, triples, home runs, and runs created. He may be one of the best Reds’ talents you’ve never heard of and a piece of one of the greatest collections of Reds outfield talent in Reds history.

Donlin was quite the character. The Reds signed him as a free agent in 1902 while he was in jail for assaulting an actress. When he was released, he finished the 1902 season by playing in 34 games and hitting .287. He was one of baseball’s best players in 1903, and was hitting a robust .356 in 1904 when the Reds traded him to the New York Giants. His OPS+ at the time of his trade was 162, so he was producing. However, Donlin was also an actor and would frequently take leaves of absence during his baseball career to pursue his other craft. Over 12 major league seasons, Donlin batted .333 with an OPS+ of 144, but he played only 1049 games (averaging about 85 per year) during his career.

The 1903 Reds finished in fourth place in the National League with a record of 74-65, 16 games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates. Center fielder Cy Seymour was a hitting machine for the Reds, batting .342 with 25 doubles, 15 triples, seven homers (OPS+ of 134) and third baseman Harry Steinfeldt had his best season as a Red, batting .312 and leading the league with 32 doubles (OPS+ of 136). Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley had another good season in his last year with the Reds, batting .327 with an OPS+ of 126. In seven seasons with the Reds, Beckley batted .325 with 251 extra base hits, 530 rbi, and an OPS+ of 128. Hall of Fame manager-outfielder Joe Kelley also played well, batting .316 with a .402 OBP (OPS+ of 124) playing a utility role in 105 games for the Reds.

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September 20, 1888: Cincinnati star pitcher, Tony Mullane, pitches complete games in both games of a doubleheader as the Red Stockings sweep the Philadelphia Athletics, 1-0 and 2-1, in Cincinnati.

There were high expectations for the 1888 Red Stockings team and they bolted out of the gate, winning 21 of their first 26 games, and taking a first place lead. However, that was the high note and by mid-September the Red Stockings were comfortably in fourth place of a eight team league. The Red Stockings were a team built on defense and pitching as only star first baseman John Reilly had an outstanding year with the bat. Reilly nearly won the Triple Crown as he led the American Association with 13 home runs, 103 rbi, SLP (.501), OPS (.864), OPS+ (170), but finished second in batting average (.321), 14 points behind the leader, Tip O’Neill. Reilly also tied for second in the league with 28 doubles and was fourth in triples with 14. Reilly and outfielder Hugh Nicol both scored 112 runs; Nicol scored 112 runs by stealing 103 bases. Nicol’s batting average was .239 with a .330 OBP. He had stolen a team record 138 bases in 1887.

The Red Stockings boasted three 20-game winners on their pitching staff: Mullane was the 29-year-old veteran who went 26-16 with a 2.84 ERA; 21-year-old rookie Lee Viau was 27-14 with a 2.65 ERA and 20-year-old Mike Smith was 22-17 with a 2.74 ERA.

September 20, 1920 Light hitting second baseman Morrie Rath hit the only two home runs of his 1920 season, and the last two of his career (his career total was four) in a 9-3 win for the Reds against the New York Giants in New York. Both home runs were hit inside the park.

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