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ABOUT THE REDS
BIG RED CARD
The Cincinnati Reds
of 2010 rebound well. The team is like the 76ers legend, "the round mound of
rebound." Beginning last week in first and ending the week in first is a
good thing, despite the poor performance against the Cardinals. Overshadowed
by the big series against the Cards with the brawl and all was the key
addition of outfielder, Jim Edmonds. It is nice seeing #15 in a Reds
uniform. So let's talk numbers, not statistics but jersey numbers.
I have always been fascinated by jersey numbers. I'm sure collecting
baseball cards contributed to this fascination. So when I saw Edmonds
wearing #15 it reminded me of other Cincinnati players to wear the number.
World Series champion, Glen Braggs wore #15 while breaking bats over his
back in 1990. Lefty, Denny Naegle, wore #15 in the late nineties. George
Foster is the most decorated Red to wear #15. This Big Red Machine slugger
was the National League MVP in 1977 and his number should retired as a Red.
All this jersey number interest motivated me to look up some facts about
Nine Hall of Fame baseball legends have their respective jersey numbers
retired by two or more Major League teams. Frank Robinson's number 20 is
retired by our very own Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles.
Baseball's true "Homerun King," Hank Aaron, has his number 44 retired by the
Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers. Carlton Fisk has his number 27
retired as a Boston Redsox and his number 72 is retired as a Chicago
Whitesox. Rod Carew has his number 29 retired as a Minnesota Twin and a Los
Angeles of Anaheim Angel. Reggie Jackson started with the Oakland Athletics
and his number 9 is retired there. He earned his "Mr. October" nickname as a
New York Yankee and his number 44 is retired in "the House that Ruth built."
Ace reliever Rollie Fingers, an Ohio native, has his number 34 retired by
both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Oakland Athletics. Legendary manager of
the New York Yankees and New York Mets Casey Stengel, has his number 37
lovingly retired by both franchises. Nolan Ryan has his number retired by
three teams. First gaining his control as flame thrower in an Angel uniform,
"The Express" has his number 30 retired there. The Houston Astros also have
his number 34 retired. The native Texan also has his number 34 retired in
Arlington as a Texas Ranger. Finally, we come to the race man out of UCLA,
Jackie Robinson. For his duties served as the first African American
baseball player, Jackie Robinson has his number 42 retired respectively by
all 32 major league baseball teams. A tremendous honor bestowed upon a man
we all wish could have been alive to witness such dedication to his
accomplishments on and off the field of play.
Jackie Robinson's legacy was celebrated in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of
his breaking the color barrier as a Brooklyn Dodger. From that point on no
major leaguer has been permitted to wear the number 42 on his jersey, unless
they already had the number before 1997. Future Hall of Fame member, closer
Mariano Rivera, still wears 42 on his jersey because he was wearing the
number before 1997. He has been "grandfathered in," permitted to wear the
number until his retirement. Rivera is the only current player in major
league baseball to still wear the number 42. He will be the last and his
number will eventually be retired as a New York Yankee. The number 42 will
be no more...
"You gotta' know this;" one current Hall of Fame member had his number 42
retired as well. He was a closer also. Once Rivera has his number retired,
there will be only three players who have had their number 42 enshrined into
baseball lore. Enjoy the research and find out for yourselves...
A GREAT SEASON
Joey Votto and The Cincinnati Reds are off to a great season this year.
Possibly a division title! Though it is a total team effort, it takes a
great season by an individual player to spark such great team
accomplishments. Votto inspired me to look back at other great Reds from
past seasons to put his season of 2010 in perspective. I looked up
individual seasonal stats of Rose, Robinson, Parker, Griffey Junior, and
other great Reds' players. That is when I stumbled across another "You Gotta'
Pete Rose is my favorite player of all time, but growing up I wanted to be
just like Eric Keith Davis. A combination of such speed and power in the
field and on the base paths. Davis could hit the ball over the fence as well
as rob an opponent of a home run with his magical Gold Glove skills. Back in
the day, my neighborhood buddies and I made up a game called, "Eric Davis."
We would lob baseballs over a five-foot tall wooden fence and try to rob
home runs just as Eric did many times while patrolling center field at
Riverfront Stadium. His majestic home run to straight away center field in
the first inning during game one of the 1990 World Series solidifies him as
being an all-time great Red. Though the ball landed un-catchable, the only
person capable of catching it had hit it. He was, for a brief time, superman
without a cape. That is how I remember him. So I looked up his stats.
Mr. Davis was drafted in the 8th round of the 1980 MLB draft as a skinny
high school shortstop out of Los Angeles, California by the Cincinnati Reds.
The farm system developed him into a center fielder winning awards at every
level in the minors. He played 57 games in the show during 1984 starting
sparingly in the outfield. He came back in 1985, learning the ropes under
manager Pete Rose, for 86 games showing potential. That potential finally
paid dividends as he became the every day starting center fielder for The
Cincinnati Reds midway through the 1986 season. What a season that was to
become. Perhaps the best season of his extraordinary career.
The most games Eric Davis ever played in a season was the 135 games he
played in 1988. He played with such reckless abandon in the field and on the
base paths that his concern for his own health came in second to the teams'
accomplishments. Crashing into outfield walls and diving into bases was the
way he excelled at the highest level. It cost him hundreds of games over the
course of his courageous 17 year career. It was his style of play. The
season of 1986 was his coming out party. Though he didn't attain a starting
everyday position in the line up until June of 1986, he put together a
season that was one for the ages. His stat line for that first season as a
starter included 27 homers and 80 stolen bases. Davis accomplished this feat
while appearing in only 132 ballgames. He had just 415 at-bats.
There has been only one other player in Major League history to have 25 plus
home runs and 80 plus stolen bases in one season. It took the Hall of Famer,
Rickey Henderson, 153 games and 608 at bats to attain 28 homers and 87
stolen bases in a single season. That season just happened to be 1986 as
well. What a great year for Baseball. Just think what "44 Magnum" could have
done with the 193 more at bats Henderson had during that year of 1986. One
can only imagine. The question of, "What if?" has always followed Mr. Davis
due to injuries.
The very next season, 1987, "Eric The Red" became the 7th player to reach
the 30/30 club with 37 dingers and 50 stolen bases. He came to that plateau
on August 2nd, the earliest any player has ever made that mark. He was on
pace to become the first 40/40 man but he collided with a brick wall at
Wrigley Field in early September and missed 17 games because of his reckless
effort. So who was to become the first 40/40 man....? Do you think he
The Cincinnati Reds franchise has had several versatile players over the
years. Players who could play several different positions contributing to
the team concept. Cincinnati Reds players such as Lenny Harris, Bip Roberts,
Chris Stynes, and Ryan Freel come to mind. They could play in the outfield
as well as in the infield. It all depended on what the team required them to
do. It sure does help out the skipper of a major league team to have that
sort of flexibility on their twenty-five man roster. One former Cincinnati
Red helped out his respective skippers more often than any other major
leaguer in the history of the game.
Robinson says, "You gotta' know this;" Cincinnati native, Peter Edward Rose,
is the only player in major league history to have played more than 500
games at five different positions. Over the course of his 24 year career,
Charlie Hustle played 628 games at second base. He won the Rookie of the
Year award manning second base in 1963. Pete also played in right field for
595 games. He won his only two Gold Gloves as a right fielder in 1969 and
1970. Rose then moved to left field in the early stages of the Big Red
Machine era for 671 games. He won his only National League Most Valuable
Player Award in 1973 as a left fielder. In order to make room for a young
George Foster, Pete jumped back into the infield as a third baseman for his
manager Sparky Anderson. The Hit King played 634 games at third while
helping solidify back to back World Series championships in 1975 and 1976.
Mr. Red then moved on to Philadelphia as a free agent. Since the Phillies
already had a young superstar third baseman, Michael Jack Schmidt, Pete
began another journey. This time it was at first base. Pete led the Phillies
to their first World Series title as a first sacker in 1980. He went on to
end his career as a first baseman playing 939 games there for Philadelphia,
Montreal, and back again in Cincinnati where he was eventually to be crowned
as the "Hit King."
All of this versatility made me wonder; "Have there been any players who
have won MVP awards at two different positions?" After extensive research, I
found out that it had actually happened. Not just one player, but three
players had won an MVP award two different years while playing two different
positions. All three guys ended up in the Hall of Fame. Two American
Leaguers and one National Leaguer. In order to get you started on your
journey to find out who these great ball players are, I will drop a little
hint: The most recent American Leaguer to accomplish this feat played for a
team which is now a National League team. Please enjoy the pursuit of
Baseball knowledge as much as I did.
The Cincinnati Reds are currently celebrating the anniversary of their 1990
World Series title. I have several fond memories of that Wire to Wire
season. I received World Series tickets for my 16th birthday that year;
Aisle 330, row 26, seat 114. The extra inning dramatic heroics of Billy
Bates and Joe Oliver in game two stick out profoundly. Anyway, I decided to
look up some stats from that magical season and in doing so I stumbled
across a great "You gotta' know this."
I looked up to see who led the Reds in runs batted in that year. I had a
good idea who it was and sure enough, it was Eric "44 magnum" Davis. He led
the team with 86 ribbies that season, but I was a little surprised that it
was such a low number. I looked up the National League RBI leader of the
season to compare it to Eric's team leading total. A third baseman from the
San Francisco Giants, Matt Williams, led the league with 122. That is 36
more than Eric "The Red" had. Here is the interesting part of this adventure
through the record books. Matt Williams was the third consecutive Giant to
lead the league in RBI.
First baseman, Will Clark, led the league with 109 in 1988. Left fielder and
ex-Red Kevin Mitchell paced the league with 125 during his MVP campaign of
1989. Then, Matt Williams accomplished the feat in 1990. Three different
players from the same franchise led the league in runs batted in for three
consecutive seasons. I considered that to be very rare, so I dug a little
deeper to see just how rare it actually was.
The runs batted in leader for each league has been tallied since the season
of 1900. The only other team to do what the Giants had done in the National
League during '88-'90 was The New York Yankees of the American League back
in the 1920's. In fact, a New York Yankee led the league in runs batted in
seven times from 1920 to 1929 (the Cincinnati Reds of the Big Red Machine
era accomplished this 6 times during the seventies).
In 1925 outfielder, Bob Meusel, led the American League with 138. In 1926,
The Great Babe Ruth responded with 145 of his own ribbies to lead the
circuit. The "Murderers Row" of the 1927 Yankees were led by the beloved Lou
Gehrig. He paced the junior circuit with an astounding total of 175 runs
batted in that season. A former Cincinnati Red and Bearcat, Miller Huggins,
skippered those great Yankee teams. Huggins is in the Baseball Hall of Fame
in Cooperstown and is credited with creating the great Yankee lore with a
little help from the "Babe" and the "Iron Horse"...of course!
So, you gotta' know this: Since 1900 it has only happened twice. Three
consecutive years; three different team-mates led their respective leagues
in runs batted in. Another dazzler is on its way and just as our current
Reds have to do, I gotta' keep diggin' deeper.
Seven Cincinnati Reds have won the National League Rookie of the Year. Frank
Robinson in 1956, Pete Rose in 1963, Tommy Helms in 1966, Johnny Bench in
1968, Pat Zachry in 1976, Chris Sabo in 1988, and Scott Williamson in 1999.
You gotta' know that Cincinnati's Frank Robinson's rookie or the year
counter part from the American League was Luis Aparicio, a slick fielding
shortstop from the Chicago White Sox. Both Frank Robinson and Luis Aparicio
were to be elected into The Baseball Hall of Fame. Robinson was elected in
1982 and Aparicio was elected in 1984. To this date, there are only two
other Rookie of the Year tandems from the same year to make it to the Hall.
The Rookie of the Year class from 1967 also accomplished this feat (Ex-Reds
Tom Seaver and Rod Carew both were elected to The Hall). Carew with the
Minnesota Twins in 1991; And Seaver, with the New York Mets, was elected in
The Rookie of The Year class of 1977 is the last tandem to get there. Andre
Dawson, just elected as a Montreal Expo in 2010 and Eddie Murray as a
Baltimore Oriole, was elected in 2003. The Rookie of the Year Award has been
earned by great first year players since 1947, but only given to each league
since 1949. "The Great" Jackie Robinson hustled and earned the first in
1947. Al Dark of The Boston Braves made the mark in 1948 respectively. You
gotta' know the next Rookie of the Year class destined to both make this
illustrious accomplishment will be from the class of 2001. Look it up and
see if you agree...
The next installment of "You gotta' know this!" will include an
ex-Red and a Cincinnati native involving the ever important runs batted in
statistic. It may just blow your mind if you are into baseball as much as I
am. Have A GREAT weekend!
SEARCH 2010 WHACKREDS.............................................
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