The Reds’ Ten Greatest Games
October 22, 1975: Wrapping Up a Classic
After losing an emotionally exhausting Game Six that’s arguably considered the greatest game in World Series history, the Reds overcame an early 3-0 deficit to conquer the Red Sox in enemy territory and win a raucous seven-game Fall Classic at Boston.
Fortunately for the Reds, they allowed themselves the opportunity to come back by keeping the early Boston uprising from getting out of control, as the Red Sox left the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings. (Through the first five innings, Boston left a total of nine men on base.) With the lead in sight, the Reds rallied. In the sixth, Tony Perez crushed an arcing Bill Lee curve over Fenway Park’s Green Monster for a two-run shot that got Cincinnati on the board; the Reds tied the game an inning later when Pete Rose singled home Ken Griffey, who had walked and stole second; and in the ninth, Griffey again scored after reaching via a walk, as Joe Morgan brought him home with the go-ahead tally. Reliever Will McEnaney retired the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the ninth, and the Reds took home their first championship trophy in 35 years.
September 11, 1985: All Hail the New Hit King
After disappointing a sellout crowd the night before by going hitless, Pete Rose thrilled a new full house in Cincinnati with a first-inning single to left-center field off of San Diego’s Eric Show to break Ty Cobb’s all-time record for career hits, 57 years to the day of Cobb’s final game in the majors. The game was stopped for a brief ceremony honoring the 44-year-old player-manager, performing in his second-to-last season of his productive career. Rose would go on to score both of the game’s runs—on a third-inning walk and a seventh-inning triple—and Tom Browning came to within two outs of throwing a shutout as the Reds prevailed, 2-0.
May 24, 1935: Lights, Batter, Action!
Looking for a spark to energize interest after five years spent deep in the NL’s second division, the Reds became the first team to host a night game in major league history in an effort to make their product more available for fans who otherwise couldn’t attend day games because of their work schedule. (Just two days earlier, a midday home affair with Brooklyn drew only 2,000.) With the aid of President Roosevelt—pushing a button from the White House—the lights went on at Crosley Field before a capacity crowd of 20,422. Buoyed by the energy of both the fans and lights, the Reds scored two early runs and held on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1, as Paul Derringer went the distance in scattering six hits for Cincinnati. No errors were committed in the game, played in a crisp 95 minutes, as players from both teams praised the lighting and complained of no problems seeing the ball.
June 15, 1938: No-No Johnny!
Four days after throwing a no-hitter against the Boston Bees at Cincinnati, young southpaw pitcher Johnny Vander Meer became the first and only major leaguer to date to do it a second straight time, clamping down the Dodgers before a sellout crowd that included his family and girlfriend from his native, nearby New Jersey in the first night game ever played at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field.
Vander Meer’s bigger problem on the evening was not in preserving the no-hitter but, instead, in preserving the shutout; he walked eight, including three straight in the ninth inning before retiring the final two batters to clinch the feat and seal the Reds’ 6-0 victory. Vander Meer’s closest call to allowing a hit occurred when the Dodgers’ Buddy Hassett drilled a liner back to the mound, but Vander Meer knocked it down and threw him out at first base. In his next start, Vander Meer would pitch three more hitless innings before he finally gave up a base hit.
The dual accomplishments made Vander Meer the first player to pitch two no-hitters in one season, let alone consecutively; the Reds tried to convince Vander Meer to change his uniform number to 00, but he declined.
October 8, 1940: Winning on Fumes
Capping an emotionally exhaustive season with one of the great Game Seven duels in World Series history, the Reds earned their second world championship thanks to the tireless efforts of starter Paul Derringer, pitching on two days’ rest and barely outperforming Detroit’s Bobo Newsom—himself throwing on just one day of rest, and less than a week after the sudden death of his father.
The Reds trailed 1-0 after three innings when Bill Werber’s two-out error at third base scored Billy Sullivan, and lucked out an inning later when, with two Tigers on base and one out, Newsom’s sharp grounder hit lead runner Pinky Higgins, who was declared out. Newsom was finally gotten to on the mound in the bottom of the seventh when Frank McCormick and Johnny Ripple hit consecutive doubles and later both scored to give Cincinnati the edge. From there it was Derringer, retiring six of the final seven batters he faced to go the distance and secure the series for the Reds in a difficult season remembered for the midseason suicide of catcher Willard Hershberger.
May 2, 1917: The Double No-Hitter
Only one time in major league history has both starting pitchers dueled nine innings against one another without allowing a hit; it happened between the Reds’ Fred Toney and the Cubs’ Hippo Vaughn on a miserable Chicago day—something the hitters must have ultimately agreed with.
Toney walked Cy Williams twice, but was otherwise perfect—while the Reds could only manage baserunners off of Vaughn on two walks and an error. After no runs and no hits through nine innings, the Reds finally got to Vaughn in the tenth; Larry Kopf ended the no-hitter with a one-out single, and after he moved to third on an outfield error by Williams (a dropped fly which would have been the third out), Jim Thorpe—a baseball commoner nevertheless declared the greatest multi-sport athlete of the 20th Century's first 50 years—hit a dribbler down the third base line for which Vaughn could have easily tagged out Kopf, coming down the line. But Vaughn instead chose to shovel the ball to catcher Art Wilson, and the toss bounced off his chest protector, scoring Kopf. Toney went to work in the bottom of the tenth and retired the Cubs in order, completing his no-hit bid in ten innings.
October 9, 1919: Thank You, Black Sox
The Reds’ first world title came gift-wrapped by the Chicago White Sox, eight members of which intentionally threw the series in favor of Cincinnati—although many Reds players from that team spent the rest of their lives arguing to the world that they truly didn’t represent the lesser team that got lucky.
Losing on purpose to start the series, the eight “Black Sox” participants—angered that they weren’t being paid by complicit gamblers as agreed upon—began to get serious on the field and helped bring the White Sox to a game of the Reds going into Game Eight at Chicago (the series was briefly expanded to a best-of-nine format during the early 1920s). Lefty Williams was ready to take the mound and play his all against the Reds, but before the game he was threatened by a thug representing the gamblers; frightened out of his mind, Williams allowed four quick runs in the first inning before being mercifully removed. The game was by no means over; two White Sox relievers not in on the fix pitched only marginally better, as the Reds racked up ten runs on 16 hits and withstood a late White Sox rally to take the series with a 10-5 rout. Every member of the Reds’ starting lineup collected at least one hit, led by Edd Roush—who doubled twice among three hits and knocked in four runs—and starter Hod Eller survived the late punishment (including the series’ only home run, hit by Black Sox conspirator Joe Jackson) to pick up the complete game victory.
October 21, 1975: Shaking the Fist at Fisk
The Reds may have lost Game Six of the 1975 World Series at Boston against the Red Sox, but it’s a famous contest—arguably one of the greatest games ever played—with a conclusion that doesn’t leave a great taste in the mouths of Cincinnati fans, though the pain is softened by the fact that the Reds went on to win Game Seven and the series.
The Reds trailed early 3-0 on a Fred Lynn home run, but knotted it up in the fifth thanks largely to Ken Griffey’s triple that eluded Lynn, who crashed into the center-field wall; they took the lead in the seventh when George Foster doubled home Griffey and Joe Morgan with two outs, and Cesar Geronimo launched a solo shot an inning later to make it 6-3. But with two outs and two on in the Red Sox’ eighth, Bernie Carbo—a former Red—drilled his second pinch-hit home run of the series to tie the game. (Decades later, Carbo claimed he was stoned when he hit the homer.) The Reds appeared dead in the ninth when the Red Sox loaded the bases with no one out—but Boston committed a bonehead double play when Lynn popped to center and Denny Doyle inexplicably took off from third, thinking he had heard the go signal from third base coach Don Zimmer (Zimmer actually gave him the “no” signal).
Surviving the rally, the Reds constantly made noise in extra innings and nearly won it in the 11th, but Morgan’s line drive to deep right was caught over the short fencing by Dwight Evans, who doubled off a disbelieving Griffey running from first. The game finally came to a conclusion in the 12th when Carlton Fisk lofted his legendary fly ball down the left field line and willed it to go fair—which it did, hitting the foul pole to win the game, 7-6.
October 20, 1990: He’s Rijo, and He’s Spectacular
Major underdogs in the World Series against the powerhouse A’s, the Reds pulled off a shocking sweep thanks in part to former Oakland pitcher Jose Rijo, who clamped down hard on his former teammates and took home the Series’ MVP award with a sterling Game Four effort at Oakland.
Pitching on three days’ rest after seven innings of shutout baseball in Game One, Rijo got off to a rocky start compounded by first-inning injuries to star slugger Eric Davis and series standout Billy Hatcher, all while the A’s got to him for a run on two hits and a walk to grab the early lead. But after walking Rickey Henderson in the second, Rijo rediscovered his groove and wouldn’t allow another runner for the rest of the game—retiring 20 straight Oakland batters until he was removed with one out in the ninth. Yet the Reds found it tough to tally off Oakland starter Dave Stewart, finally breaking through in the eighth by scoring two runs on a bases-loaded, no-out scenario. Taking over for Rijo, Randy Myers—part of the esteemed trio of “Nasty Boys” relievers in the Cincinnati bullpen—closed out the series by retiring the final two Oakland batters, including Jose Canseco.
October 11, 1972: Beware of Wild Moose
Although in its fourth season, the League Championship Series format had come nowhere close to experiencing a tight series taken down to the wire—until the Reds continuously battled back in the 1972 NLCS against defending world champion Pittsburgh, taking Game Four to force a rubber game at home. But as they had throughout the series, the Reds trailed for much of Game Five, falling behind the Pirates 2-0 in the second and staying behind all the way to the bottom of the ninth by a 3-2 count. Dave Giusti was called upon to close it out for the Bucs, but he crumbled, immediately serving up a leadoff home run to Johnny Bench; the next two batters, Tony Perez and Dennis Menke, singled. Out went Giusti and in came Bob Moose, a starting pitcher making only his second relief appearance of the season. Moose induced fly outs from Cesar Geronimo and Darrel Cheney, but with Hal McRae at the plate, Moose bounced a pitch off the AstroTurf and past catcher Manny Sanguillen, bringing home George Foster (pinch-running for Perez) with the winning run to give the Reds their second of four NL pennants in the 1970s.
Cincinnati Reds Team History: Year-by year records, statistics and an oral history of the Reds, decade by decade.
The Reds' Ten Greatest Hitters: A list of the ten greatest hitters based on their productivity and efficiency.
The Reds' Ten Greatest Pitchers: A list of the ten greatest pitchers based on their productivity and efficiency.
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