Each Journey begins with a single step – The 70’s

December 15, 1970
Traded Jim Maloney to the California Angels. Received Greg Garrett.

The 1970 Reds had 4 starters with over 175 innings pitched and Don Gullet stood in the wings, the odd man out of this equation was Jim Maloney, who had hurt himself early in the season and had only topped 200 innings once since 1966. Howsam saw the writing on the wall concerning Maloney and I’m certain Jim did as well, the day he was injured the man who took his place was 19 year old Gullet, who eventually would be the man to push Maloney closer to his Fresno home and retirement.

November 29, 1971
Traded Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart to the Houston Astros. Received Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister.

A trade for the ages – speed for power. A troubled player (Morgan who claimed racism from Harry Walker) and a fan favorite (Tommy Helms and Lee May). Easily the most powerful trade of the franchises long history, each player received by the Reds would play a part in their championship years and the departing players would never be missed. The perfect trade.

November 30, 1972
Traded Wayne Simpson and Hal McRae to the Kansas City Royals. Received Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum.

In retrospect a loss, however the fact is McRae had injured his knee and the hope of him ever patrolling centerfield for the Reds was lost. With Bobby Tolan having won comeback player of the year it was obvious that Hal was expendable. Meanwhile Scheinblum had just produced a tasty .300/.383/.418 line in KC, however he was also 30 years old, Hal was just 27 and in the end the Reds lost this trade. Nelson was pedestrian, Scheinblum got old quickly and Simpson had peaked at the age of 21. McRae played for 15 more years and had 1924 more hits.

November 9, 1973
Traded Bobby Tolan and Dave Tomlin to the San Diego Padres. Received Clay Kirby.

Tolan’s 1973 season was nothing like his 1970 or 1972 season .206/.304/.251 and a two day disappearing act in August was his downfall. The sulking Tolan in the dugout (with stubble of the radical unauthorized facial hair) is the enduring image most fans have of Bobby. In fact most forget his grievance against the Reds, his possible role in the free agent battle and his later appearance as a Phillies bench player on their late 70’s squads. Clay Kirby gave the Reds credible pitching in 1974 and passable in 1975, but in the end he was just fodder.

December 16, 1974
Traded Ozzie Osborn to the Chicago White Sox. Received Mike Hedlund.

After the 1974 season the Reds began a pattern that would be prevalent throughout the rest of the decade, they sat on their hands. Since nothing of consequence occurred during this period I’ll note that one transaction that caught my eye.


October 24, 1975
Traded Joaquin Andujar to the Houston Astros. Received players to be named later. The Houston Astros sent Luis Sanchez (December 12, 1975) and Carlos Alfonso (minors) (December 12, 1975) to the Cincinnati Reds to complete the trade.

Sparky didn’t care for Andujar; he felt that he was too emotional on the mound. After six years in the Reds system they finally gave up on taming him. As an Astro he was passable, but in the 80’s Joaquin found himself in St. Louis, where he pitched his best, won a gold Glove, and became famous for winning a ring and being that volatile player that troubled Sparky. Andujar later was also smack dab in the middle of the cocaine problems in the game during this time period.

November 1, 1976
Don Gullett granted Free Agency.

And so it begins, both the Big Red Machine and the Reds dynasty take a hit with this move. Gullet was the first of the Reds to leave via the newly implanted free agent system and his departure hurt the Reds staff mightily. However slaying the team even more was the hard line that Howsam and company took against free agency. Their initial reaction dragged the team down faster as age crept in and it will always be the one thing that Howsam can never boast about.

October 31, 1977
Traded Woodie Fryman and Bill Caudill to the Chicago Cubs. Received Bill Bonham.

Woodie Fryman was a major reason the Tigers won the AL East in 1972, and the Reds hoped that he would take some of the hit their staff was going to take with the departure of Don Gullet. However Fryman longed for Montreal and the atmosphere he had grown to love. In the middle of the season he decided that he no longer wanted to be a Red and went home prior to the All Star game and never returned. Ti this day the mere mention of Woodie can draw a snarl in any chili parlor in the city.

November 2, 1978
Pete Rose granted Free Agency.

If you thought that Gullet leaving was painful then this one probably destroyed you, it was the combination of finding out that Santa Claus didn’t exist and getting kicked in the groin by him after he delivered the news. Pete chased the dollars and my innocence was lost.

November 1, 1979
Joe Morgan granted Free Agency.
Fred Norman granted Free Agency.

And so the dismantling continues. Despite squeaking by the Astros the Reds didn’t have much of a future and Morgan was not going to be a part of their demise, so he went back to the Astros (and led the league in walks) and helped them win the NL West, Norman was gone after a stint with the Angels and Dick Wagner sat on his hands not signing any free agents and waving good bye to the core of the Reds championship squads.

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