Today marks the 68th anniversary of the integration of the Cincinnati Reds roster. Fittingly, the color line was broken in Milwaukee, where the 2018 Reds will be playing tonight. It’s a story told in our new book – The Big 50: Cincinnati Reds: The Men and Moments that Made the Cincinnati Reds. There’s an entire chapter […]

It is Monday of All Star week which means it is Home Run Derby Day. In commemoration of the day, Redleg Nation decided to stage its own mythical Reds All Time Home Run Derby. Welcome to Crosley Riverfront Ball Park. The action is about to begin. First, a few words about our rules. Home Runs […]

Opening Day is the start of the new season. It’s about new beginnings, getting fresh and forgetting last year for better or worse. We’re all new when the first pitch is thrown. Anything can happen and we’re all forgiven for our past sins until, or even if, the losses start to pile up. But I […]

[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 […]

“I want the voting in the hands of the fans, but not if they make a joke out of it.” Frank Lane St Louis Cardinals General Manager, 1957 Current Reds owner Bob Castellini likely remembers the above quote; if not, he certainly remembers the incident that generated it. For it’s his reintroduction of Mr. Redlegs […]

It’s my belief that baseball is a game that is made up of more small moments that craft themselves into  great and memorable moments than any other sport in the world.

Even Buzkashi

The game’s natural movement from step A to step B enables small dramas to be inserted into contests throughout the season, and the years. This is what shapes our baseball memories, small moments, significant to us and often to  the history of the game  On the franchise level, the Reds grabbed the golden ring as summer kicked off with a bang when one player became the 27th Red to perform a rare batting feat…a feat that is so rare that only 23 players in the long history of the franchise have achieved it. A feat that Ted Kluszewski accomplished, Frank Robinson as well… why, Gus Bell did it twice!

Heck George Foster did it….and even Pete did it.

But ya know what?

Joe Morgan never did it. Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Perez and Adam Dunn never did it. Lee May, Wally Post: nope.

But Chris Heisey has.

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Brian first met the greatest game in Detroit in 1968, that team played in a league called the “American League”…. but I digress.

Later after a family move he started a dalliance with the Cincinnati Reds, who perchance were in the midst of their greatest era. It was a romance that was greater than many could hope to be.

After barely stomaching the strike of 1981 Brian headed West but never forgot the Reds, and even despite being surrounded by Giants and A’s fans who tried to entice him with things both Green and Orange he found himself wondering what was up with Kal Daniels and was that kid from Moeller ever going to make us forget Davey.

A long time member of SABR and a baseball history junkie he currently lives in Portland and can be followed at @baseballminutia

On CNN.com, Bob Greene writes about when the Reds were the Redlegs and some of our editors here at Redleg Nation are quoted. Some nice publicity for Redleg Nation. Bill LackI’ve been a Reds fan since the late ’60’s, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM […]

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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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 24, 1879: The Cincinnati Reds, an organization in disarray, are disbanded by Reds president, J. W. Neff, in a move that destroys a team of promising young players at one of the more critical points in early baseball history. The 1876 and 1877 Reds were abysmal teams, finishing the seasons with records of 9-56 […]

October 9, 1876: The first National League Cincinnati Reds team finished the worst season in Reds history with an 11-0 lost to the Hartford Dark Blues. The Reds, or Porkopolitans as they were sometimes called, went 9-56, a .138 won-loss percentage, and finished 42 1/2 games behind the first place Chicago White Stockings.

The first Reds team had a genuine superstar, Charley Jones, who batted .286 with a .724 OPS (154 OPS+) and was second in the league with four home runs. Those were the only home runs the Reds hit all season. Jones was the only Red to have a slugging percentage over .279. Over the next decade, Jones became one of baseball’s best known and very best players with several teams signing him to contracts, but that’s another story. The Reds most common pitcher (carefully chose the word “common”) was Dory Dean who finished the season 4-26 with a 3.73 ERA (ERA+ 59). He led the team in games pitched and innings pitched despite missing the first two months of the season. His .133 winning percentage is the worst ever by a one-year pitcher with a minimum of 20 decisions.

At least the Reds finished the season. The New York Mutuals and the Philadelphia Athletics quit the season with two weeks to go and found their teams expelled from the National League. The nation’s two largest cities did not have major league baseball teams for at least the next five seasons. Philadelphia did not get another major league baseball team until 1882 when the American Association granted them a franchise. The National League granted a franchise to Philadelphia in 1883 in response to the AA move. The National League and American Association both granted New York franchises for the 1883 league seasons.

October 9, 1898: The Reds’ Dusty Miller collects eight hits in a Reds doubleheader with the Cleveland Spiders. The Reds won the first game, 12-5, but the second game resulted a 6-6 tie with the game called after seven innings due to darkness.

In the first game, Miller was 5-5 with five singles against Hall of Famer Cy Young. In the second game, he had a single, a double, and a triple. For the season, Miller batted .299 and led the Reds with 99 runs scored and 90 rbi. Miller played seven major league seasons, five with the Reds. His best Reds season was 1895, when he batted .335 with 10 homers, 112 rbi, 103 runs scored, 31 doubles, 16 triples and an .888 OPS (124 OPS+). The best hitter for the 1898 Reds was Mike Smith, a former 34-game winning pitcher for the Red Stockings in 1887. Smith batted .342 with an .858 OPS (139 OPS+).

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September 25, 1925: For the first time in major league history and still the only time in National League history, teammates connect for bases-loaded triples in the same game as the Reds wallop the Brooklyn Robins, 18-7, in Cincinnati. Curt Walker clears the bases for the Reds with a triple in the third inning and teammate Rube Bressler does likewise in the fifth. The Reds scored a total of nine runs in the third inning alone.

Only 534 fans show up in Cincinnati to see the third place Reds, who finish the season 80-73, 15 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds gained possession of third place back in July and had held the spot for two months.

For the game, the Reds have four players with three hits: Walker, Bressler, Elmer Smith, and Chuck Dressen. Reds starting pitcher Jakie May went the distance for the win, giving up 14 hits and seven runs, walking four.

Walker was the Reds starting rightfielder from 1924-30, playing 953 games in those seven years, batting .303 with a .378 OBP, and an OPS+ of 113. Walker finished in the top ten triples five times with the Reds, finishing second three times (1925-26, 1929). Bressler played 11 seasons with the Reds (1917-27) and was a pitcher as well as an of-1b. Bressler batted .311 in his time with the Reds with a .379 OBP (OPS+ 115). As a pitcher, Bressler pitched in 42 games and was 12-9 with a 2.76 ERA (100 ERA+).

September 25, 1951: Reds catcher Johnny Pramesa wins the game for the Reds as he clubs a 14th inning grand slam walk off home run in a 7-3 Reds victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

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