Earlier today, Steve discussed Joey Votto’s MVP candidacy, and took a sweet little trip down memory lane. The votes have now been tabulated, and the winner announced. Your 2017 National League Most Valuable player is Giancarlo Stanton. Well, maybe he’s your MVP. My MVP is Joey Votto. Votto finished just two points behind Stanton in […]

A starting pitcher has a larger impact on a baseball team than does a reliever. That claim is as much a matter of opinion as the operation of addition. Full-time starters throw 180-220 innings in a single season. Healthy relievers typically log 60-75 innings. 200 is more than 70. That’s why organizations tend to put […]

Even some longtime Reds fans have forgotten over time about the big one that got away from wearing a Cincinnati uniform — Vida Blue. That’s right, Vida Blue. In one of his final moves as the Reds General Manager, Bob Howsam traded for the star lefthanded pitcher of the Oakland A’s in December of 1977. […]

Billy McCool. Now you have to admit, that’s a cool name. Billy McCool was a relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. He had good stuff. He was lefthanded. And he had the cool name. He broke in with the Reds in the 1964 season. Fred Hutchinson saw something in the 19-year old McCool he liked. […]

(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.

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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.

With an 8:00 game tonight, I thought some of you might want a place to chat during this fine Sunday, plus I had a couple of things that didn’t merit their own posts, so I decided to throw it all together here. It’s Time to Plan for October The Reds are now 8 games up […]

The “save” didn’t become an official statistic in baseball until 1969, although it had been tracked for years. The definition of a save itself was defined in 1960 by Chicago sportswriter Jerome Holtzman but it has been redefined, examined and criticized since. (The first official “save” went to Bill Singer on Opening Day 1969, who […]

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 […]

October 21, 1877: Does the curveball really curve or is it an optical illusion? It’s easy for us to see today with digital graphics, but even when I was a child, I would sometimes come across “scientific” sports articles discussing the physics of how a pitched baseball curved or whether it was actually an optical illusion.

Well, as is the case with most things, the magazine articles I read as a child weren’t exactly full of original ideas. Back in 1877, the folks managing the Cincinnati Reds team of the National League conducted a demonstration to prove that a pitched ball could curve. Unfortunately for the 1877 Reds, this may have been the high point of the season that had concluded on October 2. The 1877 Reds were 15-42 in their second year of existence, 25 1/2 games behind the league champion Boston Red Caps. On the flipside, the 15-42 season was an improvement. In 1876, the team had gone 9-56.

From “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder:

A demonstration is conducted in Cincinnati prior to an exhibition game between the Reds and Boston to prove that a pitched baseball actually curves. A wooden stake was driven into the ground just in front of home plate. Boston’s Tommy Bond, a right-handed pitcher, threw from the right side of the pitcher’s box, and the ball curved around to the left side of the stake. To prove the ball was not influenced by the wind or any other atmospheric condition, Cincinnati’s left-handed pitcher Bobby Mitchell curved a toss around the right side of the stake.

It’s timely that or fortunate that the demonstration took place in Cincinnati in 1877. One of the Reds’ pitchers that year was Hall of Famer Candy Cummings, who is credited with having “invented” the curveball. Cummings was the most commonly used Reds pitcher that season, going 5-14 with a 4.34 ERA (61 ERA+). Cummings (career 21-22) is one of only three pitchers in the Hall of Fame with lifetime records under .500, along with modern day reliever Rollie Fingers (114-118) and Negro League star Satchel Paige who didn’t make his Major League debut until age 41 and went 28-31 (it’s thought his Negro Leagues record was 103-61).

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October 16, 1975: Don Gullett allowed only five hits and Tony Perez broke an 0-15 slump with two home runs as the Reds took a three-games-to-two lead with a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the 1975 World Series. The Red Sox scored first in the first inning when Denny Doyle tripled and […]

October 14, 1952: The Reds trade outfielder Cal Abrams, catcher Joe Rossi, and first baseman Gail Henley to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Gus Bell. Bell becomes a four-time all-star and one of the favorite players in Reds history.

October 14, 1968: During the National League’s second expansion draft of the 1960’s, the Reds lose six players. The Montreal Expos select centerfielder Mack Jones, lefty pitcher Dan McGinn, and infielder Jimy Williams, while the San Diego Padres select lefty pitchers Billy McCool and Fred Katawczik, and catcher Fred Kendall.

Only Jones, McCool, and McGinn played on the 1968 Reds. Jones was the team’s fourth outfielder, and a good one, who batted .252 with 10 homers (124 OPS+). McCool was still only 23-years-old, but had begun losing effectiveness (3-4, 4.97), and McGinn was a 24-year-old lefty prospect. Kendall later became a regular Padres catcher in the early 1970’s, Williams never made it back to the majors (except as a manager), and Katawczik never made the majors.

October 14, 1970: The Reds hold on for one more day as they win the fourth game of the 1970 World Series, 6-5, in Baltimore. Lee May provided the winning runs with a three-run eighth inning home run.

The Reds had scored single runs in the second, third, and fifth innings. Dave Concepcion drove home May with a second inning triple, May scored Bobby Tolan on a third inning single, and Pete Rose homered off Jim Palmer in the fifth inning for the Reds’ first three runs. However, the Orioles had reached Reds starter Gary Nolan for a Brooks Robinson second inning solo home run, and for three runs in the third on run-scoring singles by Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson with Elrod Hendricks singling home the third run off Reds reliever Don Gullett in the same frame. The Orioles made it 5-3 in the sixth when Brooks Robinson singled with one out and scored all the way from first base when Hendricks singled to right field and scored on Pete Rose’s errant throw to third base. Rose had earlier gunned down Brooks Robinson at the plate to prevent a run in the third.

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October 12, 1975: The Cincinnati Reds scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to overcome a 2-1 deficit and defeat the Boston Red Sox, 3-2. The win enabled the Reds to tie the 1975 World Series at one game apiece. The Red Sox scored first when Carlton Fisk singled home Carl Yastrzemski […]