Baseball-reference.com’s blog has a couple of interesting tidbits of statistical information today that are Reds related.

With the Phillies’ signing Cliff Lee, they decided to research for starting rotations that would have had four starting pitchers making 30 or more starts each with ERA+ of 130 or greater. They found one, the 1997 Atlanta Braves, which had Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Denny Neagle, and John Smoltz in the rotation. Future Red Neagle was 20-5 with a 2.97 ERA, finishing third in Cy Young voting that season (in two seasons with the Reds, Neagle was 17-7 with a 3.89 ERA). The famous 1971 Baltimore Orioles rotation which boasted 4 20-game winners (Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer, and Dave McNally) did not have any of their starters with an ERA+ of 130 or greater. Palmer had a 126 while the others were quite good (109, 116, 126, 117, respectively). That huge offense helped their outstanding pitching staff.

Baseball-reference.com found nine rotations that had three pitchers meet the criteria of 30 or more starts and ERA+ of 130 or higher, and one rotation was that of the 1925 Cincinnati Reds. The 1925 Reds finished in third place with an 80-73 record, 15 games behind the league champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds led the league with a 3.38 ERA, a half run less than the runner-up Pirates (3.87).

The three Reds’ hurlers that met the parameters were Pete Donohue (21-14, 3.08 ERA, 38 starts, 133 ERA+), Dolf Luque (16-18, 2.63 ERA, 36 starts, 156 ERA+), and Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey(21-11, 2.88 ERA, 36 starts, 142 ERA+). The fourth starter slot was split between Rube Benton (9-10, 4.05 ERA, 16 starts, 101 ERA+) and Jakie May (8-9, 3.87 ERA, 12 starts, 106 ERA+).

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November 27, 1962: On this day, the Reds deal prospect second baseman Cookie Rojas to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Jim Owens.

Rojas had been one of several Cuban players the Reds (or Redlegs) had been able to sign as free agents. The Reds AAA farm team was in Havana, Cuba, and the exposure gave the Reds a leg up on other organizations in signing Cuban players. Baseball had been introduced to Cuba in the early 1900’s and the game was a source of pride for the locals. The Reds had signed the first Cuban born players to play major league baseball in Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans, both of whom debuted in 1911. Marsans was the Reds opening day clean up hitter in both 1912 and 1914.

Havana born Dolf Luque became a pitching star for the Red in the 1920’s. Luque’s 1923 is arguably the greatest pitching season in Reds history as he was 27-8 with a 1.93 ERA (201 ERA+). Luque led the majors in wins, winning percentage, ERA, ERA+, and with six shutouts, with 7.8 hits per nine innings, and with 0.1 home run per nine innings. His 151 strikeouts were second in the league, 46 behind Dazzy Vance. In twelve seasons with the Reds, Luque was 154-152 with a 3.09 ERA (121 ERA+). For his career, Luque pitched twenty seasons, going 194-179 with a 3.24 ERA (118 ERA+). Unfortunately for Luque, no Most Valuable Player Awards were awarded for the 1923 season so it’s largely forgotten today (The Cy Young Award began in 1956).

The Reds Cuban connection netted them many star players, many of which were traded to other teams. Hall of Fame first baseman Tony Perez played 23 major league seasons batting .279 with 379 home runs. Perez played 16 seasons with the Reds, batting .283 with 287 homers. Shortstop Leo Cardenas became an all-star with the Reds batting .261 with 72 homers in nine Reds seasons. Overall, he played 16 years, batting .257 with 118 homers.

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Congratulations to Josh Hamilton, who won the AL MVP Award today (with another former Red, Paul Konerko, finishing fifth in the voting). There have been a number of former Reds who later won MVPs. Let’s explore….

Josh Hamilton
Now we all know that Joey Votto has been named the National League and former Red Josh Hamilton has won the American League MVP award. Too, we all would be happy to have had both Votto and Hamilton in the our lineup together. Knowing what we know now, I suppose that would have solved our outfield problem and we’d have less of a logjam at starting pitcher, and maybe Edinson Volquez wouldn’t have started Game One in the playoffs.

But all that doesn’t matter now. Outside of the Volquez starting game one decision, I still think the Hamilton-Volquez trade was defensible at the time it was made. In saying that, the Ken Griffey (Jr.)Mike Cameron (et al) trade was defensible at the time, too, but didn’t really pan out as well as we hoped.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, the Reds are now tied with the Giants for second place as a team in total National League Most Valuable Player Award seasons with twelve. Only the St. Louis Cardinals have more (17).

Hamilton had a truly terrific year, hitting .359 with 32 homers and 100 rbi in only 133 games. He had a .411 OBP and led the majors in slugging percentage (.633) and OPS (1.044). Since leaving the Reds, Hamilton is hitting .315 with 74 homers in three seasons with a .915 OPS (138 OPS+). He’s been a very good player since leaving Cincinnati. In saying all that, Hamilton is not the first former Red that became an MVP following his Reds playing days. There have been others.

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October 25, 1884: The owner of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, Aaron Stern, sells the team to minority stockholder, George Herancourt, as reported by “Redleg Journal” authors Greg Rhodes and John Snyder. Herancourt later sells the Red Stockings to another brewery owner John Hauck. During Hauck’s time, some different nicknames for the Red Stockings are tried, such as Porkopolitans and Pioneers, but “Reds” or “Red Stockings” seemed to fit and be the most lasting.

October 25, 1886: Former Reds owner Aaron Stern decides to buy the Cincinnati Red Stockings from John Hauck. According to “Redleg Journal”:

One of Stern’s first decisions was to oust O.P. Caylor as manager. Caylor was replaced by 36-year-old Gus Schmelz, who sported a fiery red beard. Schmelz never played in the majors, but managed six league clubs between 1884 and 1897. he remained with the Reds through the 1889 season.

Caylor was a Cincinnati sportswriter whose opinions had offended many in the Cincinnati management organization, but also rallied many of the fans. Frankly, it was a case of the newspaper writer taking over the team. However, Caylor was well-respected and was instrumental in the founding of the American Association. Schmelz had two prior years of major league management experience with the Columbus Buckeyes (American Association) and the St. Louis Maroons (National League) before joining the Red Stockings. Schmelz had a very successful three year stay with the Red Stockings going 237-171 with one second place finish. Caylor had managed the Red Stockings for two years, going 128-122, also with one second place finish.

In his book, “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers”, Chris Jaffe writes that Schmelz was one of baseball’s greatest innovators. He started practicing his teams, including a preseason spring training camp. He began using bunting as a primary weapon to the point that bunting was often called “the Schmelz system,” and dictated in game strategy rather than just letting the players play. He invoked the role of managers in games.

Aaron Stern would eventually withdraw the Red Stockings from the American Association after the 1889 season, move the Reds to the National League for 1890, and then sell the Reds organization to a Players League group when the 1890 season finished. That group, led by Albert Johnson, decided to re-sell the Reds to John T. Brush, who had secured the Cincinnati franchise rights to the National League. Meanwhile, another Cincinnati team, sometimes called the Cincinnati Porkers and sometimes Cincinnati’s Kelly’s Killers (named for player-manager King Kelly), played in the American Association during 1891 before moving the AA franchise to Milwaukee. And, yes, it was as confusing that offseason as it read there…we didn’t even get into the player movements during that offseason.

October 25, 1927: Cincinnati Reds president August “Garry” Herrmann resigns his position, citing poor health and deafness as the reasons. Herrmann had been the primary Reds decision maker since he led a coalition that purchased the team back in 1903.

Herrmann was chairman of Cincinnati’s municipal waterworks board when he was named president and chief of baseball operations for the Reds. During his tenure, Herrmann was very well respected amongst his peers. He was named Chairman of the National Commission, making the deciding votes on baseball matters on a three-man committee consisting of Herrmann and the two presidents of each Major League. He held this position until baseball’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was named in 1920. It was Herrmann’s decision to not sue over the loss of star outfielder Sam Crawford having signed contracts in both leagues, with Crawford jumping to the Detroit Tigers, that led to the harmonious agreement between the American and National leagues. Herrmann also helped usher in the World Series as we know it today and even experimented with night baseball under the lights (he used this with local teams not the Reds).

Herrmann had his own distinctive style. From the book “The Ball Clubs” by Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella:

“Even for a business renowned for it’s outsized personages, the new Cincinnati boss seemed like a character out of Dick Tracy. Called a ‘walking delicatessen’ by some, he seldom ventured anywhere without an ample supply of sausages that he would munch on whenever the opportunity presented itself. On more than one occasion, he bolted from a public function because of some mixup that had left sausages unavailable. When he wasn’t proclaiming his addiction to meat, Herrmann was boasting of his beer-drinking prowess. In case anybody missed his bluster in bars, taverns, and hotel dining rooms, he could be recognized as the portly gentleman with a taste in checked suits and big diamond rings. Even his name Garry came to him expansively–it stood for Garibaldi, and had been given to him arbitrarily by an employer who wanted to think of all his charges as great European historical figures.”

Herrmann was a big spender and loved to host the party. According to Dewey and Acocella, after Herrmann rejected a couple of trade ideas, former Reds manager Joe Tinker protested that Herrmann was “more interested in saving money for his extravagant parties than in buying players who would make the team a winner.” According to various sources, Herrmann died nearly penniless in 1931. Wikipedia says his estate was worth ten dollars when he died. According to “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder, Herrmann’s estate was worth $120.

Herrmann also oversaw the Reds’ first World Championship, the 1919 World Series. He also was a patient owner and waited through seasonal contract holdouts of such Reds stars Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, and Hughie Critz, among others.

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October 11, 1968: The Reds trade popular centerfielder Vada Pinson to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Bobby Tolan and reliever Wayne Granger.

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.

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July 14, 1970: The Chicago Cubs’ Jim Hickman singles home Pete Rose from second base to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning as the National League defeats the American League, 5-4, in the 1970 All-Star Game played at Riverfront Stadium. The game winning play of Rose crashing into Cleveland Indians’ catcher Ray Fosse with the running run is one of the more memorable moments in the career of Pete Rose and baseball history.

3B Tony Perez and C Johnny Bench, enjoying monster seasons, were both elected to the NL’s starting lineup. Jim Merritt and Wayne Simpson were named to the pitching staff and Rose was added as a reserve. The AL was leading 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth with A’s pitcher Jim Hunter on the mound. Catcher Dick Dietz homered to open the inning and shortstop Bud Harrelson followed with a single. Outfielder Cito Gaston popped to first, but Astros second baseman Joe Morgan singled moving Harrelson to second base. Yankees lefty pitcher Fritz Peterson replaced Hunter to face lefty hitting Willie McCovey. McCovey singled to centerfield, scoring Harrelson with Morgan moving to third base. Peterson’s righty teammate, Mel Stottlemyre, replaced Peterson on the mound to face righty batting Roberto Clemente, who lined a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Morgan and tie the score at 4-4.

The game remained scoreless through the middle of the 12th. The AL had threatened in the top of the 12th when Carl Yastrzemski drilled a two-out double off Claude Osteen. The NL intentionally walked Willie Horton, but Osteen got Amos Otis to line out to right field. The winning rally started in the 12th when Rose reached on a two-out single. Billy Grabarkewitz singled to left with Rose stopping at second base. Hickman then singled to centerfield with Rose beating Otis’s throw home, knocking over plate blocking catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run.

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On June 11, 1967, Reds’ bonus baby Don Pavletich hits a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a five run rally and salvage the second game of a doubleheader. The Reds’ 8-4 win over the Houston Astros maintained the Reds 2 1/2 game 1st place over the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The Reds had entered the day with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals after rookie lefty Mel Queen had raised his record to 7-1 (2.20 ERA) following a 9-4 victory over the Astros. However, as the Cardinals swept a doubleheader from the Dodgers, the Reds and Milt Pappas (6-4) had lost the first game of their doubleheader to the Astros and Mike Cuellar (7-2) by a score of 7-4. The Reds reached Cuellar for 14 hits, but scored only four runs, one on a home run by backup catcher Pavletich, his second of the year.

The second game wasn’t faring much better for the Reds. With the score tied 1-1 in the third inning, the Astros’ Jim Wynn (a former Reds’ farmhand) blasted a two run homer off Reds’ starter Sammy Ellis to give the Astros a 3-1 lead and the Astros’ Bob Aspromonte had a solo homer in the fourth to make it 4-1. The Reds had been in first place since April 23rd, and were in danger of seeing their first place lead drop to 1 1/2 games if they were to be swept by the Astros on this day.
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I was doing some research and something on baseball-reference.com caught my attention. I knew that former Dodger outfielder great Willie Davis and former Reds pitcher and Orioles great Mike Cuellar had passed away recently. Baseball Reference has always had an area devoted to “In Memoriam” for players who’ve recently passed and when I opened the […]

Summarizing the Redleg Trade Review series, today I’ll list my ten worst Reds trades ever. You can search all the trades that were reviewed by going to the Redleg Nation search engine at the upper right corner of the page. I don’t know if it’s a matter of perspective or exactly why it seems this way, but it sure seems that we’ve made a bunch of, let’s just say, not-so-profitable trades over the years.

1. December 15, 1900….Christy Mathewson traded to the New York Giants for pitcher Amos Rusie. I’ll make it simple: Christy Mathewson is one of the five best pitchers of all time, winning 373 lifetime games. He won one with the Reds. Amos Rusie is also a Hall of Fame pitcher. He won 245 lifetime games, zero with the Reds.

2. December 9, 1965: Frank Robinson is traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Baltimore Orioles for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas and Dick Simpson. Unfortunately, this is one of the most famous baseball trades of all time with no good light shining on the Reds.

3. December 13, 1934: Johnny Mize is purchased by the Cincinnati Reds from the St. Louis Cardinals.
April 15, 1935: Returned to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Cincinnati Reds following previous purchase.
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Bill DeWitt became the next General Manager of the Reds late in 1960 after Gabe Paul resigned to take a simiilar position with the expansion Houston Colt .45’s. Paul had built the Reds on power to make the most benefit of the short Crosley Field fences, and offense seemed to be the secret to the Reds’ winning. DeWitt came on board and got some pitching help which solidified the 1961 Reds into becoming one of the Cinderalla teams of the past 50 years. The Reds improved from 67-87 in 1960 to 93-61 in 1961 and improved even more to 98-64 in 1962.

Meanwhile, DeWitt, as new executives often do in any organization, decided to rid himself (and the Reds) of excess or undesired talent and bring in talent of his own. I’m not certain what’s more amazing; the sheer amount of prospects the Reds had during the early 1960’s, or the sheer amount of talent that DeWitt discarded as unnecessary and how little we received in return. Check out this list (principal players listed):

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December 5, 1957: Curt Flood is traded by the Cincinnati Redlegs with Joe Taylor to the St. Louis Cardinals for Marty Kutyna, Willard Schmidt and Ted Wieand.

Curt Flood is best known today as the player who challenged the baseball reserve system in the early 1970’s which led to free agency. Most people don’t realize he lost his case, and that he had appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Flood lost his personal battle and war, but it did start the movement toward what became today’s standard of arbitration and free agency. The stalwart “stable” teams of the 1970’s (think Reds and Dodgers) were somewhat a remnant of days gone by when players were somewhat indentured servants to baseball ownership. We lament the day the Big Red Machine was broken up, and it came as a result (and with the consequences and benefits) of player’s being given what seems to be obvious rights.

What is sometimes lost today is that Flood was an outstanding centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Continue reading

You may have noticed that we’ve been focusing on Reds history a little bit more recently (Thanks, Steve Price). We all love the Reds, and I don’t want us to forget that this organization has a very storied and interesting history.

Anyway, while doing some research for another series of posts (coming soon), I thought it would be interesting to put together a team of former Reds who many of us may have forgotten actually played for the Reds. Accordingly, here I present the all-time “They Were Reds?” team. You may remember some, or all, of them but these are players who made their names elsewhere, yet spent a short time with the Reds at some point.

First Base: Leon Durham
I actually do remember Durham’s time with the Reds, but he had such a strange career, I thought I’d put him at the top of the list (this was a difficult position to choose from). Durham, of course, was an all-star for the Chicago Cubs, a powerful hitter with a great defensive reputation. In 1988, at age 30 and just a year removed from a decent, 27-homer year, Durham was traded to the Reds for Pat Perry and cash. After only 56 plate appearances, the Reds released him and within a year, at 31 years old, Durham was out of baseball. Very strange career.

Honorable Mention: Joe Adcock — an all-star who spent his best years with the Milwaukee Braves, Adcock amassed 336 homers over a long and distinguished career. His major league debut, however, was with Cincinnati.
Charlie Comiskey — Comiskey, of course, is a Hall-of-Famer for his contributions off the field. He finished his playing career as a Red.
Terry Francona — Francona is known now as the manager of the first Red Sox team to win a World Series in about a million years. He played a decade in the majors, however, and wasn’t an awful player. He played 102 games in 1987, his sole season with the Reds. Wish he was managing the Reds now?
Wally Pipp — Everyone remembers Pipp, who had a headache, took a day off, and then never reclaimed his position with the Yankees because Lou Gehrig refused to let go. The Reds purchased him in 1926, and he finished out his career with Cincy, which was a much better organization anyway.

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Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.