Reds 150 – Throwback Uniforms – 1969

October 27th, 2019

Whether you celebrate the Reds from a starting date of 1869 (first full professional team), 1882 (first year in the American Association), or 1890 (first year in the National League), you have to be somewhat amazed by the longevity of the Cincinnati team. A 2019 version of a uniform from the past is great but knowing what was happening when those uniforms debuted is history, and knowing your history is a big part of being a baseball fan, so we’ll try to cover the key events of the year.

Uniform

1969 – Home

Date Debuted 

4/7/1969

This year marks the demise of the pinstripe-look and the beginning of the clean white classic-look that would become so entwined with the Big Red Machine and Riverfront Coliseum.

Team’s Record that Season 

89-73, 3rd in NL West, 4 games back

The 1969 team was expected to win their division with their superior hitting. The pitching, however, was a larger question. The team spent a total of 15 days in first place, with their first showing on the 3rd of August. The Reds were in the hunt until Mid-September when a 4-7 road trip to the coast punched them in the stomach and they limped back home 4 games out of first. They would never get above 3rd and would finish behind San Francisco and Atlanta in the first ever NL West Pennant Race.

Team’s Attendance 

987,991 (8th of 12)

“DeWitt was a very good baseball man, but he didn’t spend money.” 

~ Bob Howsam

1967 saw a new ownership group take over and, in Cincinnati, that meant improvements to Crosley Field—new paint, improved bathrooms, new concession counters and, with this group, a heightened marketing presence. Signage around town increased, including a large sign facing the new highway to inform the locals. The 1968 season saw only four crowds topping 20,000, while 1969 saw 13 such games. Meanwhile, the team worked harder than ever to secure season ticket holders, using the lure of the new stadium in 1970 as the carrot.

Reds Manager

Dave Bristol

The Reds signed Bristol to a two-year contract after Bob Howsam’s first year as the team GM. Howsam was a man who valued loyalty and firm decision-making processes; independent thinkers were not part of his plan. “Bristol liked to do things on his own”, claimed Reds scout Ray Shore. One week after the 1969 season ended, Bristol was let go by Howsam, who felt the Reds should have won the division. As for Bristol, Howsam said, “I respected him as a baseball man. He could work for me. But I came to the conclusion that Dave Bristol wasn’t going to take me where I wanted to go.” 

The Roster 

In 1969, the Reds had a top-heavy roster—the starters had four players with 665 or more PA’s and seven above 550. Most of the bench players would see limited time in-between the lines. On the pitching side, only three hurlers had more than 25 starts, seven others would divide the remaining starts. No one from that group would impress enough to stick and, because of this, the bullpen would see a historical contribution by Wayne Granger from April to October. Dave Bristol rode Granger all year. He would appear in a team-record 90 games and throw 144 innings. Granger would pitch more than one inning 50 times, including an eight-inning relief appearance during game two of a double header during the pennant race. Even more impressive, he got his 20th save of the season in game one of that doubleheader. In the end, the Reds fell short on the pitching side, a theme that the club would see from time to time throughout the next decade.

Best Red Batter 

Pete Rose, .940 OPS

“You gonna write a story about me?”

~ Pete Rose to baseball writer Earl Lawson, 1962

Pete Rose had a great year in 1968. The following season would be his best to date with a 158 OPS+ and he hit a career high .348, with an OB% of .428. He exceeded 300 total bases for the only time in his career. He led the league in runs with 120, and hit a career high 16 HR’s, finishing 4th in voting for the MVP. Rose had 731 trips to the plate in 1969 and would top 700 in each of his remaining years as a Red, compiling 7397 plate appearances (more than Dick Allen had in his 14-year career). Rose reached base 3413 times in that 10-year span, and made 5640 outs—the equivalent of every out in 208 Reds games, roughly 20 a season. Pete won the Gold Glove in 1969, the first of two he would win. Following the 1968 season, longtime CF Vada Pinson was dealt to the Cardinals, leaving the Reds with a hole in in the middle of the outfield. Their initial reaction was to hand it to Pete, who ended up playing CF in 56 contests. He would only play the position seven more times in his long career. After moving to the outfield, Pete winning a GG was not a likely scenario. The other winners, Curt Flood and Roberto Clemente, were sure-things in a three-player competition, but the other spot was up for grabs and the most likely winners from the past were aging-out.  The next wave of glove men, like Bobby Bonds and Bobby Tolan, were just beginning to step it up, but neither had the bat Rose had that year, nor the press, and often the Gold Glove is about more than ones’ glove. 

“I Love the Media.”

~ Pete Rose, March 1989

Best MLB Batter 

Willie McCovey, 1.108 OPS

“A group of terrorized pitchers stood around the batting cage watching Willie McCovey belt some tremendous line drives over the right-field fence,” Bouton wrote. “Every time a ball bounced into the seats; we’d make little whimpering animal sounds. ‘Hey, Willie,’ I said. ‘Can you do that whenever you want to?’

“He didn’t crack a smile. ‘Just about,’ he said, and he hit another one. More animal sounds.”

~ Jim Bouton, Ball Four

During the 1960’s, The National League’s top hitters were very right-handed. Mays, Aaron, Robinson and Banks all swung from the right side and also happened to be the most accomplished hitters in compiling power numbers. From the other side of the dish, we see a slight down-tick in performance, but nonetheless some quality bats lurk there. Leading the pack with 300 HRs and a .546 SLG% would be the big man, Willie McCovey, who also had 115 intentional walks during that span. Born in Mobile, as were Mays and Aaron, McCovey was larger than both and less of an all-around threat on the diamond–first and foremost he made his salary by swinging the bat. 1969 was McCovey’s finest year, with 121 walks to 66 strike outs, and he hit a HR every 7.73 trips to the plate. His RC/27 of 11.43 was easily the best of career, nabbing him the NL MVP. He put an explanation mark on the season when he crushed two HR’s in the All-Star Game leading the NL to their 7th straight win. McCovey had come up the year after Orlando Cepede and together they shared first base and LF, a position neither could master. Eventually, the Giants had to make a choice and the choice was McCovey. It’s quite likely that McCovey was loved more in the Bay than Mays, simply because he was their guy and Mays had a history in New York. In 1969, McCovey was intentionally walked 45 times, destroying the prior NL record by 16. Simply put, he was the most dangerous hitter in the game that year.

Best Red Pitcher 

Jim Maloney, 16 RSAA

“That fellow could throw as hard as anybody.”

 ~ Roberto Clement on Maloney

“I had a very good curve. Everybody remembers my throwing hard. But my curve was a good pitch, too.”   

~ Jim Maloney

Jim Maloney came into the big leagues in 1960, discovered by Reds super scout Bobby Mattick in Fresno. Maloney was a shortstop and was being scouted by all 16 MLB teams. Mattick, however, felt he had the arm to pitch in the big leagues. Also on Jim’s high school squad was future Cubs pitcher Dick Ellsworth and future Red Pat Corrales. Ellsworth was the team’s pitching star, thus Maloney didn’t man the hill very often, though he once stuck out 25 men in a nine-inning contest. It took a couple of years for him to get a foothold in Cincinnati, but he eventually became the team’s most dominating pitcher.

Despite a dominating fastball, success for Maloney wasn’t easily attained; he experienced bouts of wildness early in his career and would battle shoulder issues throughout his years in Cincinnati. Due to his chronic shoulder problems, logging innings was not Jim’s forte. Of the top 100 performances in innings pitched in the National League from 1960-1969, Maloney only appears once–in 1965 when he completed 255 innings. The other aces in the league showed up almost yearly, while Maloney was prone to gaps in starts and time on the disabled list. 

National League’s top 100 seasons in innings pitched in the 1960’s:

  • Larry Jackson – 8
  • Juan Marichal – 7
  • Don Drysdale – 7
  • Bob Gibson – 6 
  • Kofax, Osteen, Bunning – 4 

Even Dick Ellsworth appears 3 times in the list 

As the 1969 season started, Maloney was losing his hold on the top slot in the rotation and his constant arm battles were beginning to be questioned by players as well as the front office. On a cool night at the end of April, Maloney would throw his second no-hitter against the Astros. Not to be outdone, the Astros Don Wilson would return the favor the following evening. In the first contest, Maloney injured his groin running the bases, and he would not win another game until mid-July, nor complete a game until the end of August. Despite this injury and its severity, Maloney would lead the Reds in ERA + and RSAA in 1969. The team would go 20-10 in the games he started, and Maloney would finish the season with a 2.77 ERA. Essentially, 1969 would be the end of Jim’s career, and the lasting impression he would leave on Reds fans was that of a power pitcher who could safely live in the top of the zone, an area many tried their best to avoid.

My favorite thing about Maloney’s 1969 season has nothing to do with his pitching, but instead his bat.

Always pretty handy with the bat for a pitcher, Maloney’s 1969 was especially impressive 

In 68 Plate Appearances, Jim would hit .200/.290/.436/.727 with 6 EBH, including 3 HR’s; his OPS+ would come in at 98. Exceptional for a pitcher when you compare those numbers against the team’s backup catcher Pat Corrales, who in 81 Plate Appearances hit .264/.346/.375/.721 for an OPS+ of 98 as well.

Best NL Pitcher

Juan Marichal   51 RSAA

“I’m going to be a baseball player,” Juan Marichal would tell his mother. 

“You can’t get through life just playing baseball,” she would reply.

Marichal was discovered when he was pitching in the Air Force in the late 1950’s. He had a side arm motion and nice movement on his pitches. When he first tried to throw overhanded from the mound, his motion threw his leg towards the sky. For the rest of his career, Juan would be known for three things—his pitching motion, quality, and his fight with John Roseboro. Marichal quickly mastered his motion and, after two years in the minors, he made his debut for the Giants in 1960 (the third year the Giants would have a HOF player make a debut). Marichal’s main pitch was the Slider, and his Fastball was the secondary pitch. He threw a lot of off-speed pitches. “I think my slider was my best pitch against righthanders, against lefthanders my best pitch was the screwball. Candlestick was a lefthanded hitters park, and I always faced lefthanded lineups, so I had to come up with that pitch. About that time, we had Ruben Gomez. He threw one of the best screwballs I ever saw. I learned from him how to throw the pitch and by 1962 I had a pretty good one.”  Marichal threw 295 or more innings in a season, five times. Only Robin Roberts, Jim Palmer and Gaylord Perry did it more in the live ball era. In 1963, Marichal topped 300 innings pitched, and he would do it 4 more times in the next seven years. From 1963 to 1969 he would have a record of 154-65, 164 CG, 2020 IP, a 2.34 ERA and 235 RSAA. During this time, he also gained infamy for his battle at Dodger Stadium where his violent bat wielding attached his name to one of the darker moments in the game. Lost in the epilogue of that incident is Marichal and Roseboro’s reconciliation, an ensuing friendship which ends with Marichal serving as a pallbearer at Roseboro’s funeral.

Making their MLB Debut

  • Darrell Evans
  • Carlton Fisk
  • Pedro Borbon
  • Steve Garvey
  • George Foster

Making their MLB Exit

  • Ken Boyer
  • Bill White
  • Roy Face
  • Sammy Ellis
  • Gary Bell

Cincinnati Population 

The 1970 census placed Cincinnati as the 29th largest city in the nation; the city lost fifty thousand from the 1960 count. This census was the first to record a city in the geographic south to have a population over one million (Houston). It also was the first census since 1800 in which New York was not the most populous state – California overtook it in 1962. Baseball expanded to four new cities in 1969, each with a greater population than Cincinnati.

  • Montreal – 2,684,000
  • San Diego – 696,769
  • Seattle – 530,831
  • Kansas City – 507,087

Team Media Sources 

The new ownership group was expanding the Reds regional network deeper into Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Following the 1968 season, Frank McCormick left the Reds broadcasting team and Pee Wee Reese stepped in as the team’s color man. The Reds broadcast 40 games in 1969, 35 of them from the road. An even larger impact was made when long time Cincinnati radio station WLW won the Reds broadcasting contract–a relationship that continues to this day. In the world of print, Dayton scribe Si Burick won his seventh straight Ohio Sportswriter of the Year award.

Entertainment

1969, the year of the massive music festivals. It started out great and ended badly.

Atlanta International Pop Festival, July 4–5, 1969.  Some of the performers:

  • The Dave Brubeck Trio w/ Gerry Mulligan
  • Delaney and Bonnie and Friends
  • Janis Joplin
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Johnny Winter

Woodstock Music Festival, August 15–18, 1969. Some of the performers:

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Grateful Dead
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • The Who

Isle of Wight Festival, August 30–31, 1969. Some of the performers:

  • Bob Dylan
  • The Band
  • The Pretty Things
  • The Who
  • Joe Cocker

Altamont Speedway Free Festival, December 6, 1969. Some of the performers:

  • Santana
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • The Rolling Stones

November 3, 1969, The Public Broadcasting System is formed. One-week later, Sesame Street airs its first episode. Funded by an eight million grant from the Carnegie and Ford Foundations, both endeavors would prove to be wildly popular.

In the food world 1969 is a banner year for deep fried fish in the middle of the country. In Tennessee we see the opening of Captain D’s, In Lexington Long John Silvers and in Columbus Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips.

Hot Technology 

In 1969, ARPANET was released—the precursor of our Internet today. In New Jersey, UNIX is developed by a group at Bell Labs, enabling thousands of programmers to impact the business world in ways never before imagined. Meanwhile in Europe, the first Concorde test flight is conducted in France.

All great accomplishments, and yet none have the impact of the Apollo Project.

Apollo 9 

  • Launch date: March 3, 1969
  • Mission duration:  10 days, 1 hour, 54 seconds
  • 151 Orbits

The mission was flown to qualify the lunar module for lunar orbit operations. 

Apollo 10 

  • Launch date: May 18, 1969
  • Mission duration:  8 days, 3 minutes, 23 seconds
  • 31 Orbits

The mission was a “dress rehearsal” for the first Moon landing, testing all components and procedures, just short of actually landing the lunar module on the surface of the moon.

Apollo 11

  • Launch date: July 16, 1969
  • Mission duration:  8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds
  • 30 Orbits

The mission’s goal was to be the first spaceflight to land humans on the Moon. They spent a little over 2 hours outside the spacecraft on the moon’s surface.

Apollo 12 

  • Launch date: November 14, 1969
  • Mission duration:  10 days, 4 hours, 36 minutes, 24 seconds
  • 45 Orbits

The mission was to be the second spaceflight to land on the Moon. This time, the astronauts executed approximately one day and seven hours of activity on the moon.

Born 

  • Peter Dinklage, American actor
  • Ice Cube, American rapper and actor
  • Bill Simmons, American sports columnist
  • Ken Griffey Jr., American baseball player
  • Samantha Bee, Canadian comedian

Died 

  • Boris Karloff, British actor (b. 1887)
  • Judy Garland, American actress and singer (b. 1922)
  • John Lester, American cricketer (b. 1871)
  • Sharon Tate, American actress  (b. 1943)
  • Jack Kerouac, American author (b. 1922)

Notes 

1969 is a milestone year in the game for many reasons, most notably the 100th anniversary of the game’s foray into professionalism, and the introduction of the Baseball Encyclopedia. 

Two other notable events were covered in the press, one rather extensively and the other less-so. Both would have a great impact on the game in subsequent years and change the fabric extensively. 

The first was barely touched on until Jim Bouton’s Ball Four was published in 1970—drugs in sports, back then mostly stimulants (greenies, red juice) or pain killers. The flippant attitude in the game regarding usage was chronicled in the book, with asides that reveal an acceptance and humorous take on the subject.

“We’ve been running short on greenies. We don’t get them from the trainer, because greenies are against club policy. So, we get them from players on other teams who have friends who are doctors, or friends who know where to get greenies.”

“We were kidding in the bullpen about how many greenies the Reds must have been taking during this pennant race and just then there was ball hit into short right that Pete Rose made a great diving run and caught on a short-hop. ‘Five more milligrams and he’d have had it, ‘ Tom Griffin said.” 

~Ball Four

In late June, Sports Illustrated did a cover story on the use of drugs in sports, covering many Olympic events, and also usage in major league baseball.

“A few pills – I take all kinds – and the pain is gone.” Says Dennis McLain

McLain also took a shot of cortisone and Xylocaine in his throwing shoulder in game six of the 1968 Worlds Series, the only game he won in three tries. In the same series Bob Gibson was gobbling muscle relaxing pills.”

SI 6/23/69

“We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexadrine. We also use barbituates, Seconal, Tuinai, Nemutal…but I don’t think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West Coasts.” 

St. Louis Team Doctor

SI 6/23/69

“Are anabolic steroids widely used by Olympic weight men?”, rhetorically asks Dave Maggard the University of California’s Track Coach. “Let me put it this way, if they had come into the village the day before competition and said we have just found a new test that will catch anyone who has used steroids, you would have had a lot of people dropping out of events because of instant muscle pulls.” 

SI 6/23/69
The second change that creeped up as the decade came to a close was the increasingly volatile labor situation in the wake of expansion and increase in television money. Newly minted Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was no stranger to the game; he had spent the previous 19 years in the law firm that managed the National Leagues affairs. In early February, over 125 players met in New York, the largest gathering of players at a labor event. The subject was the pending contract between the union and the game’s owners, and the terms that many on the player’s-side felt were more than unfair. As with most labor discussions, unity was preached and the meeting adjourned with a petition drawn-up to circulate—requiring players to opt into a planned refusal to sign any contract for the upcoming season. Among those signing, we find journeymen, rookies and starts, like Cincinnati’s Pete Rose. The biggest player to defect was Ron Santo, who felt indebted to Phil Wrigley and the Cubs organization. On the other side of the fence were the owners, men who didn’t take “no” very lightly—included in this group was the Reds Chairman Francis Dale who had declared that he welcomed a strike as a good test of owner’s strength versus the players’ strength. Former players who now were in the front offices of clubs leaned towards the business side of the game and none were more adamant in their opinions than Paul Richards who trotted out weak tripe like this, “Let ‘em strike. Then maybe if they do it we’ll get the guys that don’t want to play out of the game and get the ones who appreciate the major leagues in.”  Richards did battle daily with union leader Marvin Miller and his own teams’ player representative Joe Torre (who was dealt that spring). The players would eventually prevail procuring more revenue, as well as concessions that enhanced all the available pension assets. More importantly the win gave the players strength and that would help pave their path to a better future.

Reds 150 – Throwback Uniforms – 1967

October 27th, 2019

Whether you celebrate the Reds from a starting date of 1869 (first full professional team), 1882 (first year in the American Association), or 1890 (first year in the National League), you have to be somewhat amazed by the longevity of the Cincinnati team. A 2019 version of a uniform from the past is great, but knowing what was happening when those uniforms debuted is history, and knowing your history is a big part of being a baseball fan, so we’ll try to cover the key events of the year.

Uniform

1967 – Home

The jersey’s sleeves return, and the blue highlight is gone. This would be the last season that the Reds would wear pinstripes until 1993, which is also the year the sleeveless-look would return.

Date Debuted 

4/10/1967

Reds beat the NL Champ Dodgers, 6-1. Harper leads off, Rose bats 3rd, Perez plays 1st, and Deron Johnson at 3rd. All that would change, except Rose slotted in the third spot of the lineup. The 26-year-old Rose would hit .307/.370/.460, batting third in 530 PA’s. 

Team’s Record that Season 

87-75, 4th place, 14.5 GB

The Reds won 11 more games than the dismal 1966 season, holding first place until mid-June when an injury bug hit the team and they went into a slow and steady freefall. 

How bad was it? 

On June 19th the Reds were in first place, one month later they were 5 games behind, two months later 11.5 games behind, and 3 months later 14.5 games behind.  

That’s how bad it was.

Team’s Attendance 

958,300 (7th of 10)

The Reds finished 40,000 shy of seeing a million fans in the park. If they had reached that goal it would’ve been the 5th time in the franchise’s history, and the first since 1965. The team had a less than stellar end of the season, which is not the best way to get your fans involved in the team’s future. Bad finishes can affect your bottom line. In the last 4 contests the team drew under 3,300 each night. The heightened racial tensions across the nation also affected the attendance of many teams who had stadiums in more industrialized parts of their cities. The fan base was increasingly suburban, and fewer were making the trip to the west side. The Reds drew a shade over 30,000 in two games at home in 1967 and both were double-headers. 

Reds Manager

Dave Bristol

“There’s a sign in the office of Bill DeWitt, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, which carries a quotation from baseball mastermind Branch Rickey.

‘Get the ballplayers’ it says, ‘The rest will take care of itself.’

The firing of Don Hefner as manager proved once again that it can take a little more.”

 ~ Dayton Dailey News 7/14/1966

Dave Bristol knew he didn’t have the talent to make it as a MLB player. At age 24 he was asked to manage the 1957 Bradford Beagles/Hornell Redlegs. He gladly took the position, climbing through the levels of the minor leagues in the Reds organization, and at age 31 he was managing their AAA club the San Diego Padres. During his tenure in the minors, he managed future major leaguers such as Tommy Helms, Johnny Edwards, Tommy Harper, Ted Davidson, Art Shamsky, Mel Queen, Cesar Tovar, Tony Perez, Lee May and Steve Boros. As the 1966 season started, Bristol was 33-years-old  and the youngest coach in the National League. Following the All-Star Game, he became the youngest manager in the league, and the youngest Reds manager in forty years when he replaced Don Hefner.

“Dave drove you, but how could you resent it? All he wanted to do was win.”

~ Tommy Helms

A fighter, Bristol’s tenure in the minor leagues is fraught with stories of him doing battle on the field with other players, teams, and even umpires. Anything to win. Pete Rose claims Bristol had 6 different bunt plays when he played for him in Macon. As a Reds manager, Bristol tried just about everything offensively. He ran more than the league average, and moved players around the field in hope that he could find the perfect combination. His 3 full seasons as the manager in Cincinnati were not horrible, and in 1969 he won 89 games. However, Bob Howsam had seen enough, and decided it was time to get a manager of his own. Bristol found himself in Milwaukee in 1970, managing the recently moved Seattle Pilots. During the next ten years, he would continue to get jobs that seemed even more hopeless—managing for the Braves the year Ted Turner installed himself in the dugout, and later out in San Francisco for the 1980 Giants, his last gig managing in the big leagues. He’d later coach some for the Phillies and even the Reds again in 1989 and 1993.

The Roster 

1967’s roster is the crossroads of the early 1960’s Reds with the 1970’s Reds. Vada Pinson, Johnny Edwards, and Leo Cardenas were all under 30, yet represented the past. Players like Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Lee May were all emerging as bigger pieces of the team’s future. A very young team, the Reds featured two 19-year-old phenoms,  Gary Nolan, a RH fireballer who went 14-8 with an ERA of 2.53 with 203 strikeouts, and Johnny Bench, whose brief appearance at the end of the season was a glimpse into the future of catching. Offensively the roster was stacked. Dave Bristol spent a good part of the season moving parts around as he tried to find an acceptable defense to support the plethora of  bats on the bench. This was the year that Pete Rose was finally moved off of second base and found a home in the outfield. Deron Johnson started at third and was moved to first, and Tony Perez started at first and was moved to third. Lee May saw some time at first and even in the outfield. The pitching was anchored by Nolan and Maloney, with Ted Abernathy closing them out, if anything, the pitching, along with the defense, were the team’s greatest weaknesses. All in all, the team was talented and fun to watch, but not without warts. 

Best Red Batter 

Tony Perez .818 OPS

Skinny as a rail at age 14, Antansio Perez was the youngest player on a Cuban traveling team attached to the Havana Sugar Kings, a AAA franchise owned by sugar baron Bobby Madura. Also on the team were Chico Ruiz, Jose Tarabull and Diego Segui. All would end up in the major leagues. 

Antansio went by the nickname “Tany” and once in the states it morphed into “Tony” which would be how Perez would be known for the remainder of his career. He first came up with the Reds in 1964 as a first baseman. It was Dave Bristol who thought he’d give Tony the full-time gig at third base in 1967, and for the next five years he would do his best to man the position, but would never master it.

Errors for Reds Third Basemen since expansion.

                  E          G   

  • Tony Perez                           123 760   
  • Aaron Boone   86        625   
  • Edwin Encarnacion      78        490   
  • Chris Sabo                     73        792   
  • Pete Rose                      61        629   
  • Eugenio Suarez                 51        448   
  • Ray Knight                     48        527   
  • Willie Greene                  47        303   
  • Todd Frazier                   45        526   
  • Nick Esasky                    40        230   

During that five-year span, Perez would hit .290/.350/.494/.844. 1967 was his first big season. After slamming 26 home runs and 102 RBIs, it was obvious that his bat would make up for his glove. It took the hard surface of the AstroTurf at Riverfront to convince the Reds that a future with Perez at third couldn’t be tolerated, and once Lee May was traded, he moved over to his original position at first. 

Strictly a 2-position guy, Perez played one game at second base in 1967. He never appeared in the outfield for the team from 1964 to 1976.

Best MLB Batters 

Richie “Dick” Allen and Bob “Roberto” Clemente

“I think Richie Allen could have been the greatest player ever. He struck out about 140 times in 1964, and if he would have just made contact instead of trying to hit 500-foot homers, he would have hit .400.”

~ Frank Thomas (50’s/60’s version) 

“Richie Allen had a hard time in the minors at Little Rock. Ray Culp and a couple other players who played with him said the people were merciless to him. Bu he stuck it out and made the majors. He was an amazing talent. He had poor eyesight, which is why he struck out so much. But he was great hitter and baserunner and had a great throwing arm. But I would not have liked to manage him. He was a free spirit.”

~ Ed Roebuck

1967 Richie Allen

1 base every 2 PA’s

“There wasn’t a better player than Roberto Clemente. Clemente, Mantle and Kaline were the best all-around players I ever saw, and I think Clemente was the best.” 

~ Coot Veale

Roberto Clemente – 1 base every 1.95 PA’s

“He had the greatest God-given talent I ever saw in baseball. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. He was a great hitter and an exciting player. When he got to Pittsburgh nobody could speak Spanish, so he was very quiet.” 

~ Dick Grote

Best Red Pitcher 

Other than the left-handed Herb Score, who was intimidating to all batters, Ted Abernathy was the toughest pitcher against right-handers I faced in the 50’s, in the majors or the minors. He’d give me fits. Most curve balls sink, but Abernathy threw underhanded and his ball shot up. Batting against him was like swatting flies.

~ Jim Fridley

John McGraw’s Giants were the first team to employ pitchers that compiled 15-plus appearances a year, when players such as Hooks Wiltse, Bill Malarkey and Jesse Winters regularly pitched as relievers only. Firpo Mayberry’s 55 relief appearances and no starts in 1925 was, for more than a decade, the torchbearer for this role. All this changed with Clint Brown and Ace Adams leading the way in the late part of the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Regularly appearing in 60-plus games as relievers, they would pitch during any part of the game and could go both long and short. They were not driven to appear only in “Save Situations” or just clean innings. They would, on average, log over 100 innings pitched and would appear at any point of the game. In 1950, Jim Konstanty of the Philles appeared in 74 games, 152 innings and went 16-7 with 22 saves, winning the MVP in the process. His success, plus the wider acceptance of reliver-use throughout the league, thrust the usage pattern of relievers into its next level of development. Relievers were no longer brought in only when a starter was in trouble; they were brought in prior to a starter imploding, and this began to push their appearances more to later innings in the game. One would assume this should have limited the amount of innings they pitched, because they were no longer being used as long men, however, relievers began to appear with less rest due to their prior workload being only an inning or two, as opposed to four or five. Coupled with the physical stress of appearing later in the game, and usually in close contests, the leading relievers of this era would have careers with ebbs and flows. In 1965, Ted Abernathy became the first National League pitcher to throw in 80-plus games. A year later he was traded, and six months after that the Reds picked him up on waivers. Dave Bristol, who had played against Abernathy as a youth in North Carolina, fully endorsed this transaction.

In the late 1940’s, the accepted pitching style relied more on an overhanded approach, with a liberal use of the three quarters arm slot. Most youth pitchers emulated the motion of Bob Feller and Allie Reynolds—over the top and driving hard toward the plate. Ted Abernathy copied this motion as a teen until he suffered a shoulder injury and had to change his arm slot to continue pitching. Later, he injured it further and began to throw “Submarine Style”. Breaking in with the Senators in 1955, Abernathy had achieved limited success in the game and was more known for his unique style than his dominance. The Reds would be the fifth team of his career and the third in a year. 

On Opening Day, he closed the game out with 2 innings pitched. He would top 2 IP thirty-one more times that season, appearing without rest 29 times. His 28 RSAA would lead the team (edging-out phenom Gary Nolan). He would set the Reds record for games pitched with 70. In 1968, he’d top that with 78. Dave Bristol certainly liked to use relievers in a way that would not continue in the next 15 years. He routinely leaned on Abernathy for two seasons and Abernathy would average 1.6 IP for every appearance. In 1969, Bristol would call on Wayne Granger an unbelievable 90 times (still the team record), also at a 1.62 IP rate. As the manager of the Brewers, he’d do the same with Ken Sanders, who over three seasons would compile 195 Games pitched, 320 innings thrown, which was an average of 1.64 IP every appearance. In the 1970’s, baseball would see the talisman of the Save Stat begin to drive the usage of closers to be more firmly defined and more tied to Win-situations, as opposed to Close-and-Late-situations.

Best Reds Season for Relievers RSAA 

Best NL Pitcher

Jim Bunning, 41 RSAA (Runs Saved above Average)

“He doesn’t care if you like him or not. His nickname, as a player was “lizard.” He comes off as very cold, very arrogant.”

~ The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

Common statement: “Pitcher wins are useless.” Or, just maybe they are misleading, especially when tagged to random milestone numbers (20 wins, 300K’s), and especially if those random numbers factor into awards and accolades that, in hindsight, seem a tad dubious.

In 1957, at the age of 25, Jim Bunning started 30 games and won 20 as a Detroit Tiger. He had a 2.72 ERA, lost 8 contests, and finished the season with 40 RSAA. Bunning would pitch six more seasons in Detroit, topping 30 starts every season. He also did not win 20 games during that time, coming close once in 1962 with 19. He was traded to the Phillies after the 1963 season. Bunning left the Tigers with a 118-87 record and started over 250 games.

In Philadelphia, the hard throwing right hander found his stride. The first year, he threw the modern National League’s first perfect game on Father’s Day and proceeded to start over 39 games in 4 straight seasons, topping 280 innings each year. No wonder Jim Bunning wears a Phillies cap on his HOF plaque and not a Tiger cap. Just take a look at his numbers from 1964-1967; in that time he faced over 4800 batters, completed 60 games, and had a minuscule WHIP of 1.04.

Yet, some  would say, “He didn’t win 20 games.” Jim Bunning did win 19 games each year from 1964-1966. 

In 1967, each league decided to issue their own Cy Young Award for the first time. The best pitcher in the National League was Jim Bunning who had a 17-15 record for the Phillies, leading the league in Games Started, Innings Pitched, Strikeouts and Shutouts, with a 2.29 ERA and he led the league in RSAA with 40. 

As for the Cy Young Award, San Francisco’s Mike McCormick won it handily; with 18 first place votes. Ferguson Jenkins and Bunning each received 1 vote for first place, or 5% of the vote. 

In 1967 the National League leader in wins was Mike McCormick with 22. 

Wins can be deceiving.

Jim Bunning would be traded in the off-season and his career would begin a slow, yet steady retrograde and no,  he would never win 20 games, or please everybody.

“There was leadership on the Phillies: Richie Allen, Johnny Callison, Tony Taylor. But most of the leadership was through example. Jim Bunning could have been more of a leader. He certainly had an attitude that was “How come we’re in first place?” instead of “Gee it’s great we’re in first place.”

~ Ed Roebuck

Cincinnati Population

In Cincinnati, the city ranking and population are in steady decline. The urban population shrinks as the suburban population grows—overtaking the farmlands that surround the city. Hamilton County itself peaked in population in 1960, and hit its lowest ebb in 2011 when it only 800,621 lived in the county.  

US Census Rank   Population

  • 1960       21 502,550  
  • 1970       29 452,524

Team Media Sources 

In the TV world of MLB, color has arrived in 1966. By season-end, 78% of the games were broadcast in color. Nationally, aside from the World Series and the All-Star Game, there were three Monday Night games and 25 Saturday afternoon contests presented by NBC on their “Game of the Week” franchise—and they paid baseball a tidy sum of $49.5 million for that privilege.

“I’ve had three owners, four general managers, a dozen managers in my Cincinnati years, I’ve been with Lord knows, how many ball players. It’s been a great experience. But, there comes a time when every player must realize his future is running a little short. That’s how it is with me. I’ve given everything that I could. I wish I could stay and help. I’m sorry my record wasn’t better, but I’m still proud of it.” 

~ Joe Nuxhall announcing his retirement

One of the latest cuts in Bob Howsam’s first year as GM of the Reds involved ending Joe Nuxhall’s pitching career and introducing him to his next challenge, announcing in the booth with the ailing Claude Sullivan and Jim McIntyre. While Joe felt his way around the booth, McIntyre took on a heavier load at the mic as the summer progressed. Sullivan would die before the end of the year of throat cancer and the Reds would move their affiliation to WLW after years at WCKY, where Joe and McIntyre would pair together for the next two years.

Entertainment

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. It is their last Stanley Cup finals appearance.
  • A Cincinnati ownership group led by Paul Brown is issued a franchise in the AFL.
  • The Monterey Pop Festival is held for 3 days.
  • Chuck Jones’ last Tom and Jerry short, “Purr-Chance to Dream” is released.

Three albums from 1967 that you might have missed and need to revisit

  • Something Else – The Kinks
  • Younger than Yesterday – The Byrds
  • I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You – Aretha Franklin

 1967 in Film

  • Date Night – The Graduate, Barefoot in the Park
  • Anti-Establishment – Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Dozen, The Trip, The Born Losers
  • Social Issues – In the Heat of the Night, To Sir with Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
  • For the Kids – Doctor Doolittle, The Junglebook

Hot Technology 

Technology in 1967 is highlighted by a convention in Manhattan where 117 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees came together for the very first Consumer Electronics Show. In 2019, the CES drew 4,400 exhibitors and 175,000 attendees. Hot items at the 1967 show seem quaint today, but back then items such as the “Pocket Cassette-Corder” (a bigger version of the Walkman) and GE’s 24 lb. portable color TV (billed as the “first under-$200 set ever sold.”) were revolutionary products in a world that was just beginning to see portable typewriters, calculators, and green screen computers.

Born 

  • Kurt Cobain (d. 1994)
  • John Smoltz 
  • Louis C.K. 
  • Julia Roberts 
  • Vanilla Ice 

Died 

  • J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist (b. 1904)
  • Crew of Apollo 1 (killed in launch pad fire)
    • Roger Chaffee, American astronaut (b. 1935)
    • Gus Grissom, American astronaut (b. 1926)
    • Ed White, American astronaut (b. 1930)
  • Jimmie Foxx, American baseball player (b. 1907)
  • Woody Guthrie, American folk musician (b. 1912)

Notes 

1967 was the first year of the new ownership group that would move the Reds into the 1970’s. Only the second ownership group to run the team in 33 years, the Dale group promised to be more modern in their approach to the game and the business of baseball than Bill DeWitt had been. Only 5 years after purchasing the team from the Crosley Foundation, DeWitt’s tenure unraveled quickly when, during the first week of 1966, long time local scribe Earl Lawson wrote, “Cincinnati is apparently ready to put its money where its mouth is. That new stadium about which the city has done nothing but talk for years, may soon become a reality-thanks to the relentless prodding of Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes.” 

Bill DeWitt claimed he would sign a contract to play anywhere the group decided. He did, however, place a caveat that the location would have a great impact on the length of the lease he’d sign. DeWitt himself preferred a suburban location with easy highway access and ample parking. There was also talk of a domed stadium being built in the Blue Ash area by a small group of local businessmen. The committee recommended an area near Union Terminal, but decided on a Riverfront location by mid-February. DeWitt still preferred a suburban location and harbored worries about flooding, access, and as always, parking, “They expect people to park in garages and ride busses to the park. The Governor is running for reelection this year and that’s why he’s so active. He’s leading the press around by the nose on this football franchise.” The stadium issue was final as far as the city was concerned, however Bill DeWitt didn’t seem as happy as everyone else.

This unhappiness would continue to be the theme of the 1966 season. Opening Day, the biggest sports holiday in the city, was rained out for the first time in over 50 years. The rain didn’t subside and the Reds opened the season on the road for the first time since they were in the American Association in the 19th Century. Meanwhile over in the American League, ex-Red Frank Robinson got off to a tremendous start and was the talk of the American League and all of baseball. An extensive story in Sports Illustrated that June outlined many of the issues facing Dewitt that season—his dual role of owner/GM, his age, lifelong connection to the game, and his reputation as being tough, opinionated and somewhat tight-fisted. All of these issues factored into the larger story, the new stadium project. Nestled in the article was this nugget, “DeWitt has told the city fathers that the Reds would in the new stadium wherever it was built. But the length of the lease he will sign would depend on the location.” He later mused, “I think a private stadium is within the realm of possibility.”  

With the city on the verge of financing a new stadium, the need for the Reds to be a permanent resident was evident. Comments concerning other plans for the team worried not only fans but politicians. 

On December 16th, 1966, Bill DeWitt surprised both the fans and the city when he sold the Reds to a group of local businessmen led by Francis Dale the president and publisher of the local morning paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer. The price was $7 million, $2.5 million more than DeWitt paid in 1962—a tidy profit for DeWitt and his backers, and a clear road to a new riverfront stadium for the city and the Reds.