This was in today’s edition of the Miami University Student:

The Reds, founded in 1882, were the first professional baseball team, but its members have frequently lacked racial harmony. The organization and some Reds fans still treat African-American baseball players as lower class based on their skin color.

Read it and judge for yourself…

37 Responses

  1. Drew Nelson

    I think the writer is correct about how mang’t looked at black players for many decades, but the Reds were not alone in how teams treated black players. As for how fans treated or treat black players, maybe in the past they were not as supportive, but now I don’t see that. Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey Jr, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Jose Rijo, Brandon Phillips all are treated great by fans. Since the BRM era, I can’t think of a black player treated poorly by the fans due to color of skin. Maybe because of his level of play, but not skin color.

  2. jason1972

    It has about the right intellectual depth for a college student.

  3. JasonL

    I don’t think any of this is news. Obviously, that doesn’t make the racism that has taken place a good thing, and certainly, Cincinnati is not a paragon of racial harmony. That said, it reads more like a (poorly written) research paper than a newspaper article.

  4. RedBlooded

    That’s great jason1972. Respond to an article about racial prejudice with another bit of prejudice about college students. It looks like we might have a long way to go in a number areas.

    • jason1972

      It wasn’t an insult. The human brain’s pre-frontal cortex doesn’t fully mature until a person’s mid twenties. College is all about the transition from adolescence to adulthood. A large part of that is the development of better critical thinking skills and judgment. I don’t expect a college student to exhibit mature thinking, thus I was not surprised by the sophomoric effort that Bill linked. It’s not at all abnormal and is in fact a healthy mental exercise for a person that age to restate the obvious as if they are making some great revelation.

      RedBlooded: That’s great jason1972. Respond to an article about racial prejudice with another bit of prejudice about college students. It looks like we might have a long way to go in a number areas.

  5. pinson343

    I’m not qualified to talk about the situation in Cincinnati. I know Cincinnati has arguably the best African American history museum in the US, and that Cincinnati has a special place in 19th century African American history. The underground railroad that slaves took to freedom (I forget the name of it) took them to Cincinnati, didn’t it ?

    The Reds have taken a bad rap due to some of Marge Schott’s statements. Even there, that’s an oversimplification – Barry Larkin always spoke highly of her.

    In the 1950’s/early 1960’s, none of the white players would hang with Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson after games, and they “weren’t supposed to.”
    Pete Rose had the moxy to break that.

    But pretty much every team had a situation like that then – the Halberstam book 1964 claims that the 1963-1964 Cardinals were the first racially integrated team.

  6. pinson343

    Actually, the worst race story I’ve heard coming out of Cincinnati sports had to do with the great Oscar Robertson, when he was playing with the Bearcats. The Bearcats booked at a hotel in Houston where Oscar was not allowed to stay. (And some people wonder where his anger comes from.) Oscar was undecided right until game time whether to play, he didn’t even warm up. He decided at the last minute to play and scored 56 points.

  7. Den

    Jason1972 is correct, that column is weak and loaded with weasel words.

    Compare the columns in any college paper to those of any “real” newspaper and you will see a huge difference. Even the little weekly papers have far better writing.

  8. JustTheFacts

    Unfortunately, for the right or wrong, Cincinnati has a reputation. These stories will happen.

  9. Doug Gray

    Brandon Phillips. Chris Dickerson. Arthur Rhodes. That is 3 African American’s on the Reds current roster. Daryl Thompson and Darnell McDonald both were on the 40 man roster last season and McDonald actually got playing time with the big league club. We also have an African American head coach.

    Given that baseball overall has 10.2% of its players as African American’s I am failing to see how the Reds having 5 of 40 (12.5%) on their 2009 40 man roster and having an African American coach comes into the Reds still treating them as second class.

    I mean the crux of this article is based on Jackie Robinson in 1947, a few incidents in the 60’s and then a comment by Marge Schott that was absolutely in poor taste 20 years ago. How does that translate to December 2009 at all?

  10. daedalus

    The player Reds fans most recently ran out of town was white and from Texas. And the fact is that Brandon Phillips is probably the most popular player among fans.

    The truth is Cincinnati does have a racism problem, and race riots in 2001 back that up. After campaigning for a black candidate there last year and hearing the N word more times than I have in the rest of my life, I think Cincinnati deserves its reputation. Still, that doesn’t give someone license to write something this inaccurate, outdated, and slanderous (or is it libel? I always get those two mixed up.)

    This kid also got the date wrong, at least since he included first professional team in the statement.

  11. daedalus

    Maybe he’s confused our disdain for Corey Patterson and Willy Taveras as racism instead of they just plain stink.

  12. Mark the Red

    I don’t know which is a bigger joke — that article or any poster who accuses another of prejudice for commenting on lack of intellect among college kids.

    Oversensitive much? 🙄

  13. Doug Gray

    Daedalus…. you seem to be bringing up both sides there. In your campaign you saw racism against an African American candidate. In the ‘race riots’, which for the record is a terrible name for it since only one race was rioting, we saw racism against, well everyone that wasn’t “black”.

    Cincinnati has some issues going on in terms of race interaction (just like a whole lot of other places), but neither really has anything to do with the Reds here.

  14. JasonL

    @Doug Gray: Nope. Sorry Doug. That’s not what racism is. Racism is when a particular group is targeted because of race. Protesting or rioting because of unfair treatment doesn’t equal racism even if the majority of the rioters are of one race.

    Also, and I say this as a white person, whenever someone tries to paint whites as victims of racism it comes off as ignorant. We’ve been extremely privileged for hundreds of years, and still are. I don’t think rioting is a good thing, but I totally understand an oppressed group getting fed up and feeling like they have no other recourse.

  15. justcorbly

    Racism cannot be measured by the number of players on a team. Racism is an endemic part of the human condition, like greed, lust and anger. Some folks see a moral obligation to deal with it in themselves, some folks don’t, and others seek to justify it.

    It’s an error to argue that the impact of racism today is as great as it was 30 years ago. But it is just as much an error to argue that racism doesn’t exist.

    Cincinnati has a national reputation as a city with festering racial issues. Whether it is deserved or not is immaterial. Fools like Schott only fuel the perception. (BTW, her comments went well beyond the merely tasteless. Racism isn’t just tasteless, it’s an ethical failure.)

  16. Steve Price

    The Reds were were one of the first teams to sign Latino players going back to teh 1910’s. Now, only light-skinned Latinos could be signed, but at least it was a start. Dolf Luque was from Cuba and was one of baseball’s best pitchers in the 1920’s. Armando Marsans twice finished in the top 25 for MVP in the early 1910’s as an outfielder.

    I’m not saying the Reds were always forward thinking…it seems to me most of decisions made were financially driven….

  17. Mark in CC

    As a young person growing up in the 60s, I went to a racially segregated school and was one of the first white guys with a black locker partner. I received some comments so Pete with Frank and Vada was not unusual for the times. Frank, Vada, Tommy Harper did recieve rough treatment.

    I do feel however that Reds fans in general, not necessarily the organization, have been tougher on the black stars than the white ones. The only black player who seemed to get a free pass was Barry Larkin. I always thought Eric Davis, Reggie Sanders, Ken Griffey Jr., and a few others took a little more heat than they deserved or would have received were they a little lighter skin toned.

  18. art

    Whites have no patent on racism or any other vices. To say that blacks can never be racist because their ancestors were enslaved is ignorant, and condescending and insulting to blacks.

  19. pinson343

    I’ll call racism when I see it. The kind of thing that happened to Oscar Robertson, not being allowed to stay in a “white” hotel, could not happen today.
    But less blatant instances of racism in sports continue.

    When Frank Robinson won the Triple Crown in 1966, he hired an agent to handle all the invitations he’d receive to make appearences, give talks, etc. He got so few invitations he didn’t need the agent.
    When Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown the following year, he was a national hero.

    When Yaz got hit number 3,000, he was invited to the White House by President Carter. Then someone told Jimmy that Lou Brock had recently reached that same plateau. Brock turned down the belated invitation to the White House. I don’t believe Carter was racist, it was that the media attention was bigger for Yastrzemski.

    When Eric Davis had a lot of injuries from crashing into walls and diving onto artificial turf, he was called “injury prone” at best, or a “malingerer.”
    Pistol Pete Reiser, a white OFer for the Dodgers in the 40’s, played with the same style – also going down with injuries – and is (deservedly) remembered as a heroic player and the ultimate professional.

    Then there was the Davis injury early in game 4 of the 1990 WS, he lacerated his kidney and was never the same. He said that no one in Reds’ management even called him in the hospital. He asked for the Reds to fly him back to Cincy once he was ready to leave the Oakland hospital, Marge refused. She said that he’d “ruined everything.”

    Later when with the Orioles, Davis hit a game winning home run in the 1997 American League Championship Series, while still undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Yep, a real malingerer.

    I’ve heard more than a dozen idiots call into talk radio about how Ken Griffey Jr. missed a month because of a “stubbed toe.” He hurt himself trying to save the Reds 2006 season in early September, trying to rob Barry Bonds of a HR that landed in someone’s popcorn. That “stubbed toe” was dislocated and there was significant damage to tendons and muscles in that area. He came back in late September to hit a game winning pinch hit home run against the Cubs, and limped around the bases. That bum, he should have been playing CF.

  20. RedinFla

    Hey — speaking of racism, baseball and good writing…
    Safe at Home by Richard Doster is a novel set in a small Southern town with a minor-league team in the 1950’s.
    It’s well- written and would pass some hours indoors for those of you facing the blizzard I’m seeing in the news. 8)

  21. Chris

    I think that, as pointed out, there is an element to the quote itself of college student heart on sleeve racial/cultural sensitivity.

    Marge Schott aside (and I don’t think Schott’s- let’s call them what they were: racist attitudes– played out in the makeup of the on-field team), the Reds as an organization haven’t been particularly anything, good or bad in relation to race, just about the norm for a MLB team. (I should note that the Frank Robinson trade probably had a good deal to do with race, though, and that would be on the organization)

    HOWEVER, if we’re talking about the players on the field and the ways they’ve been received in Cincinnati, it’s a whole other thing. Eric Davis has been mentioned, and I’d add Ken Griffey Jr. in recent memory. No matter how gruesome their injuries, there was always a sense that they were exaggerating them, they didn’t ‘work hard enough’ and so on (in other words, they were ‘lazy’). You never heard things like that about white players in Cincinnati– Ryan Freel comes to mind, even though his injuries tended to result from being stupid, he was given a pass and understanding that say Griffey wasn’t. I remember the appositely named on this site ‘mouth breathers’ calling in on post-game shows suggesting that Griffey should be benched after coming off one of his injuries in favor of Ryan Freel because Freel ‘hustles.’ (And to say ‘well, those are just the dumb ‘mouth breathers’ who call into WLW’ is to miss the point– unfortunately, they, not readers of this site are the public voice of ‘the fans’). I can’t imagine that black players are so insulated from that that it wouldn’t have some effect on them. It’s not to say that everyone in Cincinnati is a bigot, it’s to say that the loudest people in Cincinnati tend that way, the style of ‘public’ discourse is geared toward such people, it encourages them– imagine someone thoughtful about baseball, JinAZ, for instance trying to carry on a conversation on the Bill Cunningham show.

    I think there’s probably a sort of tendency with this stuff that it tends to show up when the Reds are losing. Davis, for instance, was a sort of goat until 1990, no matter how good he was. Griffey got it almost from the start, it took years for people to start riding (wrongly too, I still think) Adam Dunn in a similar way. I think the Big Red Machine players got/get a pass because they won.

    Again, I don’t know that race and the Reds is one way or the other as far as the players they pick up, I think it comes into play once they get to town, though. It still pisses me off to listen to Barry Bonds cry ‘racism’ playing most of his career in one of the most progressive cities in America– where else, no matter what he did, would he have that kind of support from the local fans? (Bonds never got that people don’t like him because he’s an asshole, and race is un-related to asshole-ism.) Griffey, by contrast, really did have something to complain about, but for whatever reason, never did.

    I will say, that in a city with the racial problems of Cincinnati, I still scratch my head at hiring Dusty Baker, it strikes me as fat on the fire.

  22. preach

    “I still scratch my head at hiring Dusty Baker, it strikes me as fat on the fire.”

    I was thinking more “fat on the head”, but your point is well taken….

    As an Affirmative Action Manager (my day job), as well as someone in the ‘majority’ married to a ‘minority’ I can state with statistical information as well through not only charge cases, but through cultural competency surveys, that you are correct, Chris. Everything is not about race, but the problem still exists. And if Adam Dunn was anything other than white, he would have been toasted within one season.

    I can add little else to your post. You did an excellent job of summary. When you have idiots like Bonds crying race, it dilutes the legitimate concerns, which are valid.

  23. pinson343

    Chris said: “I’d add Ken Griffey Jr. in recent memory. No matter how gruesome their injuries, there was always a sense that they were exaggerating them, they didn’t ‘work hard enough’ and so on (in other words, they were ‘lazy’).”

    Definitely. Actually, I did give Junior as an example in the last paragraph of my long post above, talking about fans who thought he took September 2006 off for a “stubbed toe.”

    Another example with Junior was when he completely tore his hamstring off the bone that nite in SF. It was a few days before the diagnosis was made, and in the meantime I read or heard multiple fans say how he’d “faked” the injury.

    Bonds’ fake cry of racism also nauseated me. On the other hand, Roger Clemens is also an a*hole, and a lot of fans believed him about not using steroids, until the evidence became overwhelming.

  24. Chris

    sorry, I’d started writing last night, went to bed, finished the post and hadn’t seen your post.

    Junior was really a horrible, embarrassing shame. The guy played all those years on fuzzy concrete in Seattle, jumped, dove, the whole bit for balls, never the slightest whiff of steroids about him, he would have dwarfed the money given A-Rod at the time (also Manny Ramirez) on the open market, wanted to come only to Cincinnati, accepted a contract that paid him (at the time) at most half of his market value, I mean, I don’t know what else he could have done, and the honeymoon lasted until only the first time he got hurt. People forget that when he came to the Reds, he was “Ken Griffey Jr.” — nobody talked about anyone like that at that time, not about Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, Sosa, McGwire, Ramirez, there was just nobody in his class. He could have dwarfed that group as a self-absorbed mercenary, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone would have thought much the worse of him for it, it would have been expected of anyone in the class of “Ken Griffey Jr.”

    The guy’s legs wore out from that turf in Seattle, and because he didn’t do steroids– look at McGwire, playing the athletically not so challenging position of 1B, after he went off the andro, he broke down inside a season. It never seemed to occur to anyone that Griffey got worn out because of the way he played, had played and where he had played.

    Clemens– well, in that case, you have to consider who he played for, he was still Yankee royalty then, and having lived in NY, self-deluding propaganda tends to surround virtually every member of that team– it filters up to national media from friends, the Post, Daily News, etc., even if the reporter isn’t necessarily a Yankee fan. I don’t think anyone with their eyes open (which does not necessarily include the national sports media) after that bat shard incident in the world series was surprised about Clemens. Then again, I don’t know how anyone who remembered the ‘Bash Brothers’ showing off their (for baseball players at the time) enormous biceps was surprised about McGwire.

    Back to Cincinnati, even with Larkin or even Morgan, I think about black players in other towns, and the relationship in Cincinnati even to black players who are well liked is very different. One could not imagine, if Larkin suddenly died, the kind of sadness in Cincinnati as there was, say in Minnesota when Kirby Puckett died. I mean, people were in mourning, literally, grown men getting teary-eyed in bars talking about Puckett. I think when Rose dies, something similar will happen in Cincinnati, but I don’t believe that Pete Rose would be “Pete Rose” as he is in Cincinnati and mourned the way he will be had he been black.

    I’m sure someone posted this here at the time, even though it was in some sense satirical, I’ll admit getting a little teary eyed thinking about Griffey’s time in Cincinnati when I read this: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/nation_to_ken_griffey_jr_we_wish

    As Steve Earle said ‘nothin brings you down like your hometown.’

  25. pinson343

    @Chris: Wow, that’s one of the best posts I’ve seen on this blog. And this is a very good blog. Junior came to the Reds with the legs of a man 35 going on 40. Playing CF for 11 years on artificial turf, especially the way he played, will do that. His father had bad knees from playing on artificial turf.

    He was able to do as much as he managed for the Reds due to his tremendous natural talent, his love of the game, and slowing down his game – limiting extreme effort in the OF and on the bases for when the game situation warranted it. And for that “lack of hustle” he was maligned by Reds fans.

    PS I realize that he was popular among average Reds fans. But as was mentioned above, the loud talkers make the biggest impression, and they made the impression that Junior was not wanted in Cincinnati.

    • RedinFla

      pinson343: @Chris: Wow, that’s one of the best posts I’ve seen on this blog. And this is a very good blog. Junior came to the Reds with the legs of a man 35 going on 40. Playing CF for 11 years on artificial turf, especially the way he played, will do that. His father had bad knees from playing on artificial turf. He was able to do as much as he managed for the Reds due to his tremendous natural talent, his love of the game, and slowing down his game – limiting extreme effort in the OF and on the bases for when the game situation warranted it. And for that “lack of hustle” he was maligned by Reds fans.PS I realize that he was popular among average Reds fans. But as was mentioned above, the loud talkers make the biggest impression, and they made the impression that Junior was not wanted in Cincinnati.

      I’m fairly new to this blog, and I have to say that I’m relieved to know that other fans agree with me about Junior. I was almost embarrassed at times, still holding on to him as my favorite and reading/hearing all the negatives.
      I’m really glad I didn’t give in — wonder if he ever reads Redleg Nation?

  26. pinson343

    PS Mickey Mantle had a similar career to Junior in some respects. Awesome natural talent, remarkable accomplishments considering his leg problems. Mantle’s injuries were treated as part of his great legacy, Yankees fans loved him all the more for it.

    The “what could have been” in his case adds to the legend and – talk about the self-deluding NY propaganda – the claim of some sportswriters and many NYers that, if healthy, Mantle would have been the greatest player of all time. (I don’t think so.)

  27. pinson343

    It looks like we Junior fans are finally coming out of the closet.

    I enjoyed watching him at Yankees Stadium this year. He almost hit a home run off Rivera. I was sitting near the foul pole, and he hit a line drive between me and the foul pole. I was hoping it would either hit the foul pole, or come right at me.

    The next nite I didn’t go, as Pettite was pitching and he wasn’t used much against lefties this year.
    But he has a good history against Pettite, and they start him, so he singles and homers.

    That was the 3rd time I could have seen him in NY, didn’t, and he homered. The other two times were a Reds-Mets game and a Reds-Yankees game.

  28. jason1972

    I don’t know. Griffey didn’t seem to be treated any worse for his injury woes than Eric Davis was for his, or Adam Dunn for his perceived laziness.

    I agree that it was unfair though, just not particularly surprising given Cincinnati fans’ love of hard nose, hustling players who play every day. They just have unrealistic expectations in this town.

    • pinson343

      jason1972: Griffey didn’t seem to be treated any worse for his injury woes than Eric Davis was for his,

      He wasn’t, they were both treated badly. In the case of the lacerated kidney in game 4 of the 1990 WS, Davis was treated terribly, see above.

  29. MAM

    @Chris: Griffey? Gosh, here was a man who was convninced he was above the team concept, he was exponentially moody. I can not understand how you wish to diefy him. Did you witness his feuds with ESPN when he enviously struck out when not compared favorably to say the St Louis Centerfielder. Did you cringe when he shouted obsenities at fans in the Cincinnati stands? Were you alarmed at his steadfast unwillingness to play right field, to be pinch hit for or removed from the game? Were you concerned about his clubhouse attitude and work ethic. Can you blame “Joe Six Pack” who waited for him to produce during his Cincinnat tenure? He didn’t. Now, were injuries partly responsible and was wear and tear at play. Yes, but that’s not the entireity of his time in Reds’ jersey and I would ask you in your efforts to cannonize him me mindful of those pesky little facts.

  30. pinson343

    “Exponentially” moody ? What exponent are you talking about ?

    You believed the story written by the St. Louis reporter that Junior called in to ESPN to complain about their coverage of Jim Edmonds ? ESPN denied it, Junior denied it, no one other than the reporter ever asserted it. That’s not a “pesky little fact,” because it’s not a fact.

    Work ethic ? You and I have no idea of the work it took for him to come back from those numerous surgeries. He was the first (and only ?) player in ML history to come back from a hamstring completely torn off the bone. Yes the surgery was new, but he had to do the work once the surgeon was done. Just getting to the point of walking again was brutal rehab. Take a look at his 2005 stats, the season after he had that surgery. He got there without a work ethic ?

    Clubhouse attitude ? That’s odd, he was popular with the Reds players. Seattle players, press, management, fans, etc. praise how much he improved the clubhouse atmosphere there. He even got Ichiro out of his shell.

    The manager would decide when he would play RF or be pinch hit for. He was proud and wouldn’t like being pinch hit for, but he wouldn’t show the manager up (Brett Farvre style) by making a scene. When he was told to play RF, he played RF, and never had a word to say about it, despite the best efforts of reporters interviewing him afterwards.

    I read on this blog about his shouting an obscenity at a heckling fan. I was disappointed to hear that, there’s no excuse for it. He gives time and money to charities, spends time with children, etc., but there’s just no excuse. It demonstrates that no athlete should be “deified” or “canonized,” for one thing we don’t really know them that well.

  31. MAM

    Truth is he did complain and yes publicly about being pinch hit for (or moved down in the lineup) or moved to right field – he did show up his coach. I do understand and applaud passion, but Mr. Griffey usurped his manager and on more than one occasion and yes more than one manager. However, let’s say your rebuttal has merit – or absolutely accurate. How then do you define his performance in Cincinnati? I take it you are enamored with his 2005 season, I suspect you will applaud his 2008 year (before the trade – and likely not his Chicago tenure). But what about the rest of his time in Cincy? The injuries were certainly tragic, what else was noteworthy? Keep in mind the context of this thread, which I suspect rouses some strong passions in you as it does with me. However, why was Griffey brought to Cincy? I would contend to win championships and boost the fan base. You might be able to argue the second was somewhat accomplished but I don’t think you would opine the first was even remotely achieved. From a business performance perspective did he meet the cost benefit tests?

    By the way, you trumpet his work ethic – is it safe to say this includes conditioning? I respect your admiration of this soon-to-be Hall of Famer. My thesis is he was an all century player, but in the Emerald City. His fielding, base running and even hitting diminished markedly in Cincy to the point he was below league mediocrity. Moreover, the displeasure home town fans levied at him was for cause and not his skin color.

    Thank you for considering my thoughts and best wishes to you in 2010.

  32. JustTheFacts

    I’d like to make a remark about the obsenities. I was sitting in the stands on one day when obsenities were exchanged between the stands and Jr. Everyone in the stands were I was sitting was getting sick of the guy who kept taunting Jr.. He said some pretty horrific things. Some even racist. Jr took it for a while, first ignoring it, then giving the guy a couple looks. Jr missed a catch and others in the stands started saying things. He said “shut the F… up” to just the idiots. I’d have said worse, much worse. I thought until that moment, he showed a lot of patience with the crowd.

    I truly mean you no disrespect, and I don’t mean to pile on, but Jr came here on a promise that ownership would build a team around him. Over and over again, they said they couldn’t afford to. Over and over again, Jr differed his salary to free up cash which ownership didn’t spend wisely. The money they paid Uncle Milty was Jr.’s money. Funny how people forget that so quickly.

    I was very sad to see him go. Not because of what he contributed on the field or in the locker room. He wasn’t the great player anymore when he left, or a great voice in the locker room. He was a good guy and arguably the best player of his generation.

  33. pinson343

    Mam, I respect your position and let’s agree to disagree on certain items which are receding into history. For most of the Reds fans who had issues with Junior, I agree this had nothing to do with race.

    In reply to your main question, even the Junior of the Seattle days could not have brought a contender with the pitching staff the Reds had when he was here. My understanding is that he did help attendance. But as discussed above, he was an old 29/30 when he came to Cincy, which yes made his 9 year contract a bad business investment.

    In terms of seasons to applaud other than 2005, I would applaud 2007, not 2008. He had 23 HRs at the All Star break, and was batting about .290. He had an excellent All Star game, the only one he actually played in as a Red. But by September his legs were dragging, he was clearly hurting, and hurting the team on offense and defense. But McKannin (spelling ?) kept playing him every day, “for competitive fairness to the contending teams.” That ultimately resulted in the horrible groin injury in RF in Chicago in mid-September.

    Junior was voted to the All Star team by the fans (and by the players, who voted him first team) in 2000, 2004, and 2007. At the end of the 2005 season, he was voted by the players to the Sporting News All Star team (first team) OF. Just before the 2004 season All Star game, he injured his hamstring chasing a fly ball in Milwaukee. His missing that All Star game was a huge disappointment. He was bringing along Barry Larkin to pitch to him for the home run derby, he was hosting the family of the fan who gave him his number 500 HR ball, it was to be the first All Star starting lineup with all 500+ HR hitters in the OF, etc. What happened 3 weeks after the injury was much worse. He was dumb enough to return way too soon and Dave Miley and the Reds management went along with it. Not only that, Miley was bright enough “to ease him back” by playing him in the cavernous RF of AT&T park on a cold and wet nite. He was busy out there, and the hamstring finally completely tore from the bone.

    But I would applaud Junior the most for the 166 ABs of the 2003 season, when he managed 13 HRs and an OPS+ of 145. He separated his shoulder, attempting a game saving diving catch in Chicago early in April. He came back too soon once again, but played until a season ending ankle injury just before the All Star break. Dr. Kremcheck did surgery on the shoulder and ankle, and found that the damage to the shoulder was worse than he had thought, and could not believe that anyone could have played in that much pain.

    Enough of my Junior stories (I have many more of course). He does get “canonized” by some, and there’s no rational reason he should, fans have little idea of who he is as a person. His passion for his family (children and parents) is a good thing, but who knows. (Think Tiger Woods.) His canonization is more due to Barry Bonds, ARod, Clemens, Manny, Sosa, etc. than anything he’s done.

    In any case, I thank you for your civl and thoughtful reply, very much in the tradition of this blog. A healthy and happy 2010 to you.