(This is the third in a series of articles about Cincinnati Red pitchers to throw no-hitters. Twelve Red hurlers have thrown no-hitters, including Homer Bailey’s gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Bailey’s no-hitter was the first thrown since Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 in 1989, retiring all 27 hitters […]
All right, you expert Reds fans. What’s the significance of this lineup? Pete Rose Bobby Tolan Tony Perez Johnny Bench Lee May Jimmy Stewart Tommy Helms Darrel Chaney Wayne Granger Those were the Reds on the field on June 30, 1970 during the final inning played at Crosley Field. Cincinnati defeated the San Francisco Giants […]
From Today’s Enquirer: – Chapman back to the bullpen? Left-hander Bill Bray’s groin injury could lead to Aroldis Chapman being shifted back to the bullpen. With pitchers, groin injuries take time to heal and can lead to serious problems. Bray missed two weeks of throwing immediately after the injury. He had to shut it down […]
The Merritt-Cardenas trade came in the post-1968 season, the so-called Year of the Pitcher, when baseball offense reached it’s nadir and baseball pitching reaching it’s dominant peak. Leo Cardenas was coming off his fourth all-star selection during the year of his 29th birthday, but he batted only .235 with seven home runs, his lowest batting average since 1963. He had made the all-star team batting .206 at all-star time, along with two other National League shortstops, the Pirates’ Gene Alley and the Cubs’ Don Kessinger who started the game. Alley and Kessinger both batted in the .240’s in 1968.
In other words, nobody hit; that is seemingly nobody except for the Reds’ Pete Rose and the Pirates’ Matty Alou who were duking it out for the batting championship (Rose won, batting .335 to Alou’s .332). The Giants’ Willie McCovey batted .293 with 36 homers and was the only National Leaguer to pass 100 rbi (105). McCovey hit, too, but the league shortstops did not.
And, Cardenas had reached the magic trade age, age 29, the age when baseball general managers use famed GM Branch Rickey’s adage about trading players before they reach 30, before they have so many “miles” that they have no trade value. And, anyway, shortstops have even shorter career spans since very few shortstops hold on to starting jobs past the very early 30’s; the position is too demanding.
There’s something to the age 29 theory, since most hitters “peak” at ages 25-29. The peak age crept up through the steroid years as steroid became the magic “anti-aging” drug for players. However, that change in peak years has/is been returning back to normal as fewer “elder” players are now able to play later in their careers. Frank Robinson was traded after his age 29 season; so was Vada Pinson. Lee May was traded after his age 28 seasons. It turns out that Robinson and May had a lot more to give; Pinson was nearing the end.
Tolan had been acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals along with reliever Wayne Granger on October 11, 1968 for popular star Reds outfielder Vada Pinson. Pinson played for seven more seasons after leaving the Reds, but he was never the same player he had been as a Red, except for his 1970 season with the Cleveland Indians (.286, 24 homers, 82 rbi, 115 OPS+). Meanwhile, Tolan became an outstanding outfielder for the Reds and probably the most underrated player on the 1970 World Series team.
October 11, 1970: The Reds lose Game 2 of the 1970 World Series to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 6-5, blowing an early lead for the second consecutive day. The Orioles now lead the World Series, two games to none.
The Reds scored three times in the bottom of the first inning off Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar to take the lead. Pete Rose reached on shortstop Mark Belanger’s error, but was forced out at second base by Bobby Tolan. Tony Perez singled to centerfield with Tolan stopping at second base. Tolan moved to third on a Johnny Bench flyout. Lee May then doubled to centerfield, scoring both Tolan and Perez and with May advancing to third base on an error by Orioles centerfielder Paul Blair. May scored on a Hal McRae squeeze bunt to give the Reds a 3-0 lead. Tolan made it 4-0 in the third with a solo home run.
The Orioles got one run back in the fourth on a Boog Powell home run and then erupted for five runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead. With one out, three straight singles from pinch hitter Chico Salmon, Don Buford, and Blair scored Salmon and chased Reds starting pitcher Jim McGlothlin. Powell greeted Reds rookie pitcher Milt Wilcox with another single, scoring Buford and making the score 4-3. Frank Robinson flied to right, but Brooks Robinson singled home Blair and then an Elrod Hendricks double scored both Powell and Brooks Robinson, giving the Orioles a 6-4 advantage. Clay Carroll relieved Wilcox on the mound and then he and Don Gullett pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. The Reds added one more run in the sixth inning on a Johnny Bench home run.
October 11, 1972: The Reds come from being down two games to one to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3. The Reds score two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs to win the game and the National League Championship Series.
August 8, 1972: The Dodgers strike out 22 Reds, but nine innings of two-hit relief help the Reds outlast the Dodgers, 2-1, in 19 innings. The Reds entered the day in first place with a rather comfortable 5 ½ game lead over the second place Houston Astros and nine games ahead of the third place […]
July 19, 1969: The Reds win a nail biter, erasing a 9-0 deficit to beat the Houston Astros, 10-9 in ten innings. The win moves the fourth place Reds to within 3 1/2 games behind the virtually tied Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers in the newly formed National League Western Division. Clay Carroll, who […]
July 10, 1970: Reds shortstop Woody Woodward hits the only home run of his nine-year major league career in an 11-9 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a doubleheader. The Reds won the second game, 3-1, to avoid being swept and break a four game losing streak. The four game losing […]
I wrote about Tony Perez’s May 14, 1972, star birthday doubleheader the other day, when the Reds swept the Cardinals while playing in Cincinnati.
Believe it or not, the Reds swept another doubleheader on their next field appearance, May 16, 1972, this time victimizing the San Francisco Giants. The wins were by the very same scores as their double header sweep against St. Louis, 4-3 and 2-0. This time, following a travel day, the games were played in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. The first game featured one of my all-time favorite Reds’ memories. I remember hearing this play on the radio while I was 12 years old and this game solidified my feelings that Pete Rose would be my all-time favorite player. The play also helped jumpstart the Reds 1972 championship run.
The Reds were heavily favored to win the National League again in 1971. The only player they had lost from 1970 was ace starting pitcher Jim Maloney who did not win a game for them in 1970 anyway after damaging an Achilles tendon running the bases during a game. In retrospect, that torn Achilles may have been a precursor to the winter and Bobby Tolan’s injury. Tolan tore his Achilles tendon in a Reds’ basketball barnstorming tour in the offseason.
Part three of early July history…this will get the Reds up through July 10th….thanks again to the books “Day by Day in Reds History” by Floyd Conner and John Snyder and “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder.
July 6…1883….The Reds crush Baltimore, 23-0 as Will White hurls a four-hitter. White goes 43-22 with a 2.09 ERA, including six shutouts, 577 innings, and 64 complete games in 64 starts.