Editor: This is the third installment of a season-long series by our resident Reds historian, John Ring. The series will examine the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Cincinnati Reds, a team on the brink (of huge success) playing during a year that it seemed the world was on the brink. Enjoy! Part 1: Remembering 007’s […]
In his first at-bat as a Cincinnati Red on Opening Day of 1969, Bobby Tolan smacked a home run into the Sun Deck of Crosley Field off Don Drysdale. It was the start of a stellar four-year run for Tolan, who was the heir apparent to the centerfield position vacated with the trade of Reds […]
Some time ago, we named the top ten catchers in Reds history. It’s time now for the second installment in our “Top Ten” series. Today, we’re going to look at the ten greatest first baseman in the long and illustrious history of the Cincinnati Reds. 1. Joey Votto. 2007-present. This is going to be the […]
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 […]
Redleg Nation is the spouse in a bad marriage screaming, “I don’t know who you are anymore!” Up and down the lineup, this team looks nothing like the club we fell in love with last year. Fans are screaming for divorce. Or at least a separation from Dusty Baker. But, if you think you’ve never […]
September 8, 1969: The 1969 Cincinnati Reds moved back into first place for one day as the Reds swept the San Francisco Giants in a double header. Both scores were 5-4 with the second game lasting 15 innings. Relief pitcher Wayne Granger earned a save in the first game and pitched eight innings of shutout […]
September 5, 1973: For the second day in a row, the Reds explode in extra innings to beat the Houston Astros in Houston. The Reds use the three game series to move into first place in the Western Division, a lead they won’t relinquish for the rest of the season.
The Reds entered the three-game series with the Astros one game behind the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Having spent most of the season in third and fourth place, the Reds trailed by as many as 11 games as late as June 30. The Reds moved into a tie for first on the first day (September 3). While the Dodgers were losing 11-8 to the San Francisco Giants, the Reds scored two runs in the eighth inning on a Ken Griffey pinch single to beat the Astros, 4-3.
The Reds scored first on a second inning solo home run by Andy Kosco, but the Astros plated three runs in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. The Reds got one run back in the sixth inning on a Pete Rose two-out single. The Reds won it in the eighth when Johnny Bench doubled with two outs. Kosco drew a walk, and Ed Armbrister, making his second consecutive start since his recall from AAA, reached on an infield single to load the bases. Ken Griffey, in his seventh game since his recall, then delivered a pinch two-run single giving the Reds their 4-3 lead and eventual margin of victory. Pedro Borbon pitched the final three innings of the game, surrendering no runs despite giving up six singles in those three innings. Former Astro Jack Billingham had started the game for the Reds and had pitched six innings, allowing three unearned runs.
August 27, 1971: The defending National League champions come as close to .500 as they do all year by scoring five times in the top of the ninth inning to to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-7, in St. Louis. Reds supersub Jimmy Stewart socks a bases-loaded pinch triple in the top of the ninth to tie the score and then scores what proves to be the winning run on a Pete Rose sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals struck first with a two-run home run by Jose Cruz off Reds starter Wayne Simpson. The Reds scored three times in the third to take the lead, but the Cardinals scored two in the fifth and one run in each of the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings to take a 7-3 lead into the ninth inning.
Johnny Bench walked to open the ninth off Cardinals starter Jerry Reuss. George Foster singled to left with Bench stopping at second base. Al Santorini was called on to relieve Reuss, and Tommy Helms greeted him with a single to load the bases with no one out. Santorini was pulled in favor of Frank Linzy, but Linzy walked Woody Woodward to force in a run and pull the Reds within three at 7-4.
August 23 has highlights tales of two relievers; one is a veteran, one a rookie; one was twice the other one’s age. Both start with the letter G…. August 23, 1948: Reds reliever Harry Gumbert connected for a 10th inning walk off home run as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, at Cincinnati’s […]
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 15, 1969: Lee May has one of the best days of his career, homering four times and driving in ten runs as the Reds split a doubleheader with the Atlanta. May homers twice and drives in five runs in both games. May hits two more homers over the next few days to enter the […]
June 25, 1972: Denis Menke doubles down the left field line with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to score Tony Perez with the winning run and give the Cincinnati Reds a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros. The Reds move into first place with the win, ahead of the Astros, and never relinquish first place the rest of the season.
The Reds go on to win the National League pennant, but eventually lose to the Oakland Athletics, four games to three, in the 1972 World Series. Six of the seven World Series games are decided by one run, with only Game 6 being a blowout (an 8-1 Reds victory). Despite losing, the Reds outscore the Athletics in the Series, 21-16, with the Reds averaging three runs per game, and the A’s averaging 2.3.
This was the first season after possibly the most important trade in Reds’ history. The 1970 Reds had been a power hitting juggernaut; a team built for power to play in Crosley Field, a home run hitter’s paradise. However, the Reds moved into Riverfront Stadium midway through 1970 and the Reds found their offensive production dropping. The Reds went from averaging 5.1 runs per game in the first half of 1970 while playing in Crosley Field to a less than league average 3.6 runs per game in 1971 in Riverfront Stadium. Opponents scoring also dropped, but not at the same rate. Opponents averaged 4.0 runs per game against the Reds in the first half of 1970, and had dropped to 3.59 in 1971.
The Reds retooled and they retooled for speed and defense, skills better suited to the artificial turf of Riverfront Stadium. They wanted Houston’s Joe Morgan for his blend of on base skills, power, and speed. According to the book “Making the Big Red Machine: Bob Howsam and the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970’s” by Daryl Raymond Smith, Joe Morgan was on Howsam’s big board of players he wanted and Reds manager Sparky Anderson kept dropping hints about a player he sure would like to have on his team. The Astros needed a first baseman and had been scouting both Lee May and Tony Perez. Howsam also has said that Cesar Geronimo was a key to the deal due to his long stride and ability to cover lots of ground in centerfield. The Reds weren’t happy with Perez’s defense at third base (25, 32, and 35 errors, respectively, from 1968-70), but knew he was a natural first baseman. Both Perez and May were fan and clubhouse favorites. May was one year older than Perez. Perez had a bigger 1970 (.317/40/129, .990 OPS); May had probably been the Reds’ best player in 1971 (.279/39/98, .874 OPS led the Reds).