Sports

Major League Baseball filled with weird, wild records

reds-recordsPart of the fun of following baseball are the records that are created. As I write this blog, Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco tied a franchise record when he connected for a home run in the 9th — his fifth home run in five consecutive games. What I like about the guy is he seems grounded and puts the home run in perspective.

It was late in the game. All the other homers were to help the team win, and important, big homers,” he said. “They actually meant a lot. That one didn’t really help us come back, so it doesn’t mean as much.

I recently came across a book, The Baseball Hall of Shame’s Warped Record Book, filled with the game’s unusual records. Here are a few Reds-related oddball feats.

  • Eric Davis holds the record for the shortest ‘4-bagger’
    In 1986, Davis hit a routine ground ball to Houston Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan who fired the ball to first — it went wild and landed near the bullpen where it was retrieved by right fielder Kevin Bass. Bass threw the ball to third ahead of Davis, but his throw was also wild so Davis cruised in and scored. His manager Pete Rose was quoted as saying, “I haven’t seen anything like that since Little League.”
  • Strikeout victim No. 3,000 — twice
    As a member of the Great Eight, the illustrious Reds center fielder Cesar Geronimo made significant contributions to The Big Red Machine — especially in the 1975 World Series. But, he also has the misfortune of being the 3,000 strikeout victim for both Bob Gibson (1974) and the aforementioned Nolan Ryan in 1980.
  • Sparky Anderson’s Two Big Losses
    Even though Sparky Anderson led the Reds to four pennants and two World Series titles, he holds the distinction of being the only MLB manager to lose an All-Star game in both the American and National Leagues. Under his guidance the National League team lost in 1971 while the American League team lost in 1985.

But possibly the funniest ‘warped’ record in the one involving pitcher Luis Vasquez who holds the dubious honor of ‘most poisonous snakes clubbed to death with a bat.’  The incident occurred in 1990 in Plant City, Florida. A pond near the Reds spring training camp was home to venomous water moccasins which found their way into the playing area. While teammates were careful where they stepped, Vasquez went on the offense to rid the camp of the deadly reptiles.

Categories: Baseball, Sports

My Memories of the Big Red Machine

Cesar GeronimoWhen it comes to baseball I was lucky. I was in the prime of my Little League career when the Big Red Machine was making sports history. When I was 11 they won the World Series by beating the Red Sox in seven games — and then won it again a year later by sweeping the Yankees in four games.

I also had a good problem — both of my favorite teams were in the ’75 World Series. Although I was a die-hard Reds fan, the Red Sox were winning me over with Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski — and of course, Dwight Evans. Evans almost cost the ’75 Reds the Series when he robbed Joe Morgan of a go-ahead home run in the 11th inning of game 6.

Growing up with the Big Red Machine, meant I had plenty of baseball players to idolize. Of course, Pete Rose, was my favorite. He played with such intensity — he could switch hit — dove head first into base when sliding and even ran to first when he was walked. But a close second, was Cesar Geronimo, possibly the least known of the Great Eight.

Cesar was much more than just a dependable outfielder (he won Golden Glove awards for 1974-1977), in fact, he proved to be a great clutch player during the 1975 World Series. His .280 batting average in the Series was second only to Rose’s .370 average. Cesar, who only hit six home runs during the regular season, had 2 home runs in the Series, a triple, scored three times, had 3 RBIs and was walked three times. The only teammate to hit more home runs during the ’75 Series, was Tony Perez, who had hit 20 during the regular season.

But Cesar’s greatest contribution to the team was in Game 3. He hit a solo home run in the fifth expanding the Reds lead 5-1, but it was the 10th inning that matter. In the 10th, Cesar led off with a single, advanced to third on a bunt when Carlton Fisk’s throw-out attempt to second sailed into centerfield, setting the stage for Cesar to score the winning run on a deep centerfield fly by Joe Morgan.

The Machine

The Machine is one of the best books written about the 1975 Reds season and what is arguably the best World Series in baseball history — the 1975 clash between the Reds and the Red Sox. Whether you lived through the season, or are just a fan wanting to know why the ‘Great Eight’ are legendary — this well-written book by Joe Posnanski — will entertain and enlighten. Highly recommended.

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Little League and the Big Red Machine

Little League withthe Giants.

Little League with the Giants.

Growing up an hour north of Cincinnati in the era of the Big Red Machine, baseball was king and it was impossible as a kid not to love the game.

But I was small, underweight, weak — and unlike Pete Rose, who dropped by my small hometown to sign autographs — I could not hit.

Dad step in to solve the problem. For countless hours after work he would pitch to me while my brother Billy, a catcher, honed his skills. Despite painful bursitis in his pitching arm, Dad threw without complaint, encouraging me to swing hard and to ‘keep my eye on the ball.’

He even set up a visual marker for me. If a hit landed in the garden on one hop or less, it was a base hit.

Eventually, the practice paid off.

It was 1974, I was 10, pitching for the Giants and batting a respectable .375. But unfortunately, just like Cincinnati it was not our year. While the Reds finished their season in second place, four games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, my team the Giants, landed near the bottom with a 3-7 record.

But it was a good year for another Reds player. My cousin Roger, who lived in the same duplex as me, played for the Little League Reds and they were unstoppable.

Roger was four months older than me, and he was skinny — but strong. He and I played baseball every chance we had. We played 1-on-1 with Pitcher’s Hand, Home Run Derby and a concocted 500-point game based on fielding.

And 1974 was his year to shine. While I was batting .375, Roger was hitting .516 (6th in league) and League Leader with 21 RBIs. He was also tied for first with five doubles. His team had a .778 winning percentage (while the real Reds could only muster a .605 winning percentage).

Fortunately, 1975 was a better year for the Giants and the real Reds.

Midway through the season, on Tuesday, June 11 my team, the Giants, ‘clobbered’ the Tigers, 18-4, and I ‘whirled the win,’  according to the newspaper. We were now 6-0 and unstoppable — or so we thought. But, a week later, the Mets handed us our first defeat — a 10-inning affair, 11-10. My teammate Andy took the loss — taking his record to 3-1 while mine was 3-0.

With Andy’s loss I was the League’s top pitcher, but Andy — like Roger before him — was dominating the league in batting. He was outperfoming me at the plate — batting .574. He was leading the league in RBIs with 31 (I was a very distant second with six). I was tearing up the bases, though, landing on the Stolen Base leaders list in third place with 24.

But, July 1 was the game of the season for the Giants.

Andy, coming off his first loss, threw a 2 hitter. We had 21 hits in our 25-11 win over the Braves (the score makes you wonder how many errors and fielder choices were called in the game.) In the game Andy, Scott and I were all 4-for-4 at the plate. A little more than a week later, on July 9, I connected for three more hits in our 26-8 win over the Cubs.

We ended the season with one loss and, just like Pete Rose and the Reds, we captured first place.

The Machine

The Machine is one of the best books written about the 1975 Reds season and what is arguably the best World Series in baseball history — the 1975 clash between the Reds and the Red Sox. Whether you lived through the season, or are just a fan wanting to know why the ‘Great Eight’ are legendary — this well-written book by Joe Posnanski — will entertain and enlighten. Highly recommended.

Categories: Baseball, Family History, Sports