Yesterday, we took a look at the 2017 Reds and where they stood among others at their position around the major league. What we discovered was that the Reds really need major upgrades to the pitching staff if they expect to compete in 2017. As I was putting together that piece, I thought it might […]

Most of you have never heard of Ken Johnson. He toiled in the major leagues for 13 seasons, pitched for some bad teams and was what you would call a “late bloomer.” He died in obscurity on November 15, 2015. He was 82 years old. His death was routinely ignored, much as his career was. […]

[This post was written by John Ring, who is the Nation’s correspondent from Afghanistan, where he is serving the entire nation.] It’s all quiet —- some would say too quiet -— on the Reds front. No news on Arroyo. Choo is gone. No trades. Nothing. So while we collectively ponder the state of the current […]

(This is the second in a series of articles about Cincinnati Reds 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 […]

Asterisks (*) in this case indicate that neither item turned out to be true…

December 9, 1965: Future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for prospect outfielder Dick Simpson, all-star starting pitcher Milt Pappas, and star reliever Jack Baldschun. The Reds traded former and future MVP Robinson for they thought he was an “old 30” after thinking he was in decline* (notice the asterisk again).

Reds owner Bill DeWitt worked for legendary baseball general manager Branch Rickey as an office boy at age 14 for the St. Louis Cardinals and later followed him to the St. Louis Browns. Rickey, best known for his role in developing farm systems and his leadership in the integration of baseball through Jackie Robinson, had learned an important Rickey adage, that it was better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. He took that role in trading Robinson for other talents. I described the players the Reds received in trade (Pappas, Baldschun, and Simpson) the way that I did because, in theory, it’s quite likely that DeWitt made a quality trade. He was addressing a Reds need (pitching), he was trying to make room for the Reds future (Tony Perez and Lee May) and he felt that Deron Johnson would be able to repeat his 130-rbi seasonal performance. Coupled with the fact that Robinson wasn’t playing at the same level he had from 1961-63, he thought Robinson was in decline.

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October 10, 1961: In the National League’s first expansion draft, the Reds lose six players, four to the New York Mets and two to the Houston Colt .45’s.

The Mets selected pitchers Jay Hook and Sherman Jones, infielder Elio Chacon, and popular outfielder Gus Bell. The Colt .45’s selected first baseman Dick Gernert and pitcher Ken Johnson.

The expansion draft didn’t do a lot of damage to the Reds. Johnson was the probably the biggest loss. He had been acquired in trade for reliever Orlando Pena from the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League and made 11 second half starts for the Reds. Johnson was 6-2 with 3.25 ERA for the 1961 Reds, but went on to play 13 major league seasons going 91-106 with a 3.46 ERA (102 ERA+). He became a rotation starter through the 1968 season.

Bell was the surprise loss. One of the most popular Reds since 1951 and a four-time all-star, Bell had become a role player by the 1961 Reds World Series sesason. Bell picked up the first New York Met hit ever in 1962, but batted only .149 in 115 plate appearances before being dealt to the Milwaukee Braves where he played one season on the bench and pinch hit three times in each of the next two seasons.

Hook was a prospect that had not panned out for the Reds. Hook went 11-18 with 4.50 ERA in 1960 as a 23-year-old, but did not pitch well in 1961 going 1-3 with a 7.76 ERA in 62 innings, allowing 14 home runs. After the Mets started 1962 with an 0-9 record before winning the first game in Mets’ history.

October 10, 1967: In more damage control following the aftermath of the Frank Robinson trade, the Reds deal slugging first baseman Deron Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Mack Jones, outfielder-1b Jim Beauchamp, and reliever Jay Ritchie.

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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 30, 1869: Hall of Fame shortstop George Wright slugs four home runs and collects ten hits as the Cincinnati Reds Stockings defeated the Pacifics of San Francisco, 54-5. September 30, 1894: The Reds blow the biggest lead in major league history in a tie-game that was called because of darkness with the score of […]

September 19, 1883: Within nine days, Cincinnati Red Stockings star first baseman John Reilly twice hits for the cycle and becomes the first Cincinnati player to homer twice in the same game.

The hot streak began on September 10, when Reilly hit two inside-the-park home runs as the Red Stockings defeated the Pittsburgh Alleghenies, 12-6. Reilly was second on the team in home runs with nine in 1883, trailing team leader Charley Jones who had 10.

His first cycle came on September 12, 1883, when he and left handed third baseman Hick Carpenter both went 6-7 in a 27-5 win over the Pittsburgh. The Red Stockings collected a club record 33 hits in the game. Charley Jones had five hits in the game. This is the only game in major league history that two players from the same team had six hits in the same game. Three other Cincinnati players have collected six hits in a game: Tony Cuccinello (1931), Ernie Lombardi (1937), and Walker Cooper (1949).

Reilly’s second cycle came seven days later on September 19 as the Red Stockings defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 12-3 in Cincinnati. For the season, Reilly led the Red Stockings with a .311 batting average, a .485 SLP, an .810 OPS, and an OPS+ of 150. He scored 103 runs in only 98 games and collected 79 rbi.

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September 1: the day that rosters expand in baseball and a day of Reds pitching feats (not feets):

September 1, 1924: Reds pitchers Carl Mays and Rube Benton both pitch complete game shutouts as the Reds sweep a Labor Day doubleheader from the St. Louis Cardinals in Cincinnati.

The Reds 1924 season had started in an awful way. Manager Pat Moran, who had guided the Reds to a 425-329 record and the 1919 World Series victory in five seasons, died in spring training from Bright’s disease. According to “Redleg Journal” (by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder), Moran fell ill on a train on March 1 during spring training, was admitted to a hospital on March 4, and died on March 7. In the recent book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” (by Chris Jaffe), Moran is listed as possibly the most underrated manager in baseball history.

Moran was replaced by Jack Hendricks who went on to manage six years for the Reds and has the third most wins of any Reds manager (469-450). Hendricks inherited a team built on pitching and defense in a big ballpark where the new home run balls often fell into outfielder’s gloves for outs.

The Reds overcome their spring training adversity to finish fourth for the season (83-70), ten games behind the pennant winning New York Giants. The Reds led the league with a 3.12 ERA, while finishing next to last in runs scored per game (4.24) despite the hitting of Hall of Fame centerfielder Edd Roush (.348, led the league with 21 triples). The Reds primarily used a four man rotation of Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey (15-14, 2.76 ERA), Mays (20-9, 3.15), Pete Donohue (16-9, 3.60), and Dolf Luque (10-15, 3.16). Their fifth starter was Rube Benton (7-9, 2.77).

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August 30, 1966: Pete Rose becomes the 12th player in Major League History to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game as the Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-4, at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field. Rose homered batting right handed in the bottom of the first inning with one out […]