The Cincinnati Reds landscape is littered with pitchers who have contended with injuries. Are we living in a unique period, with fragile pitchers and unsure management? It’s worth remembering that even our most respected and beloved managers — including Fred Hutchinson, Dave Bristol. Sparky Anderson, Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella — have been as perplexed […]
(Editor’s note: As regular readers of RN will know, John is our correspondent from Afghanistan. This piece was written by John, and originally published in The Zephyr, a weekly newspaper in Galesburg, Illinois.)
It was 12:34 in the morning at Fenway Park in Boston when Pat Darcy took the mound to enter his third inning of work. Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, which had been delayed for three days because of rain in New England, had started four hours earlier between Darcy’s Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox.
Darcy had faced six Red Sox batters in the 10th and 11th innings and retired them all. The Reds and Boston were tied 6-6 in the 12th inning. Pat Darcy was the eighth Cincinnati pitcher that Sparky Anderson had used that night. Aside from Darcy, he had only two left. Don Gullett was being held for Game 7 if the Reds, who were leading the Series 3-2, were to lose. The only other pitcher left besides Darcy in the razor-thin Reds bullpen was Clay Kirby.
Pat Darcy was a 25-year old rookie pitcher during that 1975 season. He’d had a good year; an 11-5 record, a 3.38 earned run average and Sparky had used him primarily as a starter (22 starts) and long relief pitcher. That’s worth about $4 million a year by today’s standards. But Darcy pulled in $17,500 in 1975.
Darcy was always ready and there was always work with Sparky. Lots of work. After Gullett’s thumb was broken by a line drive in June and the Reds nursing a 3 and ½ game lead over the Dodgers in the National League Western Division, Sparky bragged to a close friend that his genius would really be seen by one and all now. It was. Sparky’s extensive use of the bullpen changed the landscape of baseball.
Anderson’s answer to young Don Gullett’s injury was to swarm the mound with relievers, pulling starters at the first sign of weakness. The Reds disowned complete games. Fresh arms ruled. In fact, it was Pat Darcy who stopped a consecutive streak of 54 incomplete games when he went the distance against the San Francisco Giants in August.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.
Thank God for Tony Cingrani. The lefthanded rookie hurler kept the Redlegs from getting swept out of Washington, DC with a true gem this past Sunday. Six innings of work, no runs, 11 strikeouts and a win. And this didn’t come against the Marlins or Cubs, either. Reds and lefthanded pitchers who are successful don’t […]
December 4, 1973: The Reds trade young staring pitcher Ross Grimsley and minor league catcher Wally Williams to the Baltimore Orioles for reserve outfielder Merv Rettenmund minor league second baseman Junior Kennedy, and minor league catcher Bill Wood. Grimsley was a Reds #1 draft pick in 1969 amateur draft and was 20-12 in his first […]
July 25, 1974: Tony Perez hits a dramatic two-out two-strike two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a five-run Reds rally. The Perez homer enables the Reds to beat the San Francisco Giants, 14-13, in the first game of a double header. In the second game, Fred Norman shuts out the Giants, 5-0.
I don’t get to attend many Reds games, but the first game was one I saw as a boy and was easily the most exciting Reds game I’ve ever seen.
The Reds entered the game with the second best record in baseball at 58-40, but the best record in baseball was held by the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds had fallen 10 1/2 games behind back (48-37) as recently as July 10 and had cut five games off the lead in about two weeks. The Reds had the best record in baseball the rest of the way through season’s end.
The Giants opened the game with three runs off Clay Kirby. After retiring the first two batters, Kirby walked four, allowed two singles, and threw a wild pitch before manager Sparky Anderson replaced him with Dick Baney.
The Reds struck back for five runs in the bottom of the second off Giants’ starter Mike Caldwell and reliever Tom Bradley. Third baseman of the day Johnny Bench led off with a single and Tony Perez reached on an error with Bench stopping at second. Dave Concepcion doubled to left scoring Bench with the Reds’ first run. George Foster grounded out to shortstop for the first out of the inning, Perez scoring and Concepcion holding at second base. Concepcion stole third and Bill Plummer doubled to left field to tie the score at 3-3. Terry Crowley pinch hit for Baney (second inning–Sparky’s playing to win) against Bradley, but grounded out for the second out. Merv Rettenmund walked and Pete Rose followed with an infield single to load the bases. Joe Morgan singled to right field, scoring Plummer and Rettenmund, and giving the Reds a 5-3 lead. Bench popped out to end the inning.
Pedro Borbon came on to pitch in the third inning for the Giants, but gave up a run on a Gary Matthews triple and a Tito Fuentes single, closing the gap to 5-4. The Reds made it 7-4 in their half of the third when Concepcion homered after a Perez single.
June 30, 1975: On this day, Johnny Bench clubs a 12th-inning three-run home run to beat the Houston Astros, 9-6, in Cincinnati. Bench’s homer marked the third game within four days that the Reds won a game on an extra inning home run. It was the kind of weekend that sparks legends and makes every small kid dream of winning the big game with the home run, and the Reds made it look easy.
The extra inning heroics began on Friday, June 27. The Reds are playing the San Diego Padres in Riverfront Stadium and are trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Reds manager Sparky Anderson has decided to start his ace reliever Clay Carroll, an unusual move to us today, but something Sparky would do 2-5 times a year for the Hawk. Carroll had pitched three innings to start, Fred Norman had pitched four innings in relief, and Pedro Borbon was now holding the fort for the Reds, soon to be replaced by lefty Will McEnaney. Dave Freisleben had gone the distance for the Padres when Joe Morgan led off the Reds’ half of the eighth with a home run to tie the game with the game eventually going in to extra innings. The Padres’ Danny Frisella was pitching in relief and had retired the first two Reds hitters to start the 12th when Morgan singled to right field and promptly stole second base. Johnny Bench was intentionally walked, and Dan Driessen followed with his second home run of the year to give the Reds a 5-2 victory.
1. 1970–Traded LHP Steve Mingori to Cleveland Indians for Jay Ward.
2. 1971—Traded RHP Milt Wilcox to Cleveland for OF Ted Uhlaender
3. 1972–Traded OF Hal McRae and SP Wayne Simpson to KC for OF Richie Scheinblum and SP Roger Nelson
4. 1973—Traded LHP Ross Grimsley to Baltimore for Merv Rettenmund
5. 1975—Traded RHP Joaquin Andujar to Houston for two minor league pitchers
6. 1976==Traded 1b Tony Perez and LHP Will McEnaney to Montreal for LHP Woodie Fryman and RHP Dale Murray
7. 1977—traded LHP Mike Caldwell to Milwaukee for two minor leaguers
8. 1977—traded RHP Bill Caudill, along with LHP Woodie Fryman to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Bill Bonham
9. 1977—Traded Shane Rawley to Mariners for Of Dave Collins
It’s fashionable these days to lament the days when starting pitchers went nine innings and teams only needed 9 pitchers; when pitchers weren’t “babied.” Major League scouts, managers, announcers, and writers whine about the lack of quality pitching available today. Just to let you know, the statistical record doesn’t really show that to be true on a consistent basis, except for a period of time in the late 60’s and early 70’s when baseball offense was at it’s nadir and the game was designed for the pitcher to dominate.
However, the Big Red Machine’s “weak link” was allegedly their pitching staff. I don’t think it was that bad, and it could have been even better. In fact, it could have been a whole lot better than what we had. Anyway…is it really fair to compare their pitching staff to their offense, which is considered to be one of the best of all time?