A bonus today…June 9, 1968, the Reds threaten a walkout and vote not to play a doubleheader despite the largest home attendance crowd of the year at Crosley Field.
From “Day by Day in Cincinnati Reds History” by Floyd Conner and John Snyder:
“Several Reds players, led by Milt Pappas and Vada Pinson, threaten not to play a double header against the St. Louis Cardinals in order to recognize the national day of mourning declared by President Lyndon Johnson in memory of Robert F. Kennedy, who was slain on June 5. A vote was taken among the players in the clubhouse before the game and a slim majority decided not to play while a near-capacity crowd was assembling in the Crosley Field grandstand. Reds’ manager Dave Bristol and General Manager Bob Howsam were livid and asked for nine volunteers to take the field and play the games as scheduled. Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, and Jim Maloney moved out of the clubhouse to take their positions, and the others soon followed without incident. In the end, no Reds’ player refused to play and a threatened walkout was averted.”
The Reds entered the day 4.5 games behind the first place Cardinals, the defending World Series champions. In the first game, the Reds jumped out to an 8-0 lead after four innings off the Cardinals young lefthanded pitching star, 23 year old Steve Carlton. However, the Cardinals came back to score 10 runs in the fifth inning off Reds pitchers Gerry Arrigo, Bob Lee, and Bill Kelso to earn a 10-8 victory.
In the second game, the Cardinals scored five times in the top of the first, giving them 15 unanswered runs against the Reds. Reds’ starter Billy McCool did not retire a batter. The Cardinals made it 6-0 in the fourth on an Orlando Cepeda sacrifice fly, but the Reds answered with a run in the fourth on a Pinson home run. They scored four more in the sixth on a two-run single by Pinson, followed by a two-run homer by outfielder Mack Jones. The Reds tied it in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by rookie catcher Johnny Bench. The Reds won it in the 12th when Leo Cardenas doubled home Tony Perez off Cardinals reliever Carlton to give the Reds a come from behind 7-6 win.
Oh…you may have noticed Carlton’s name there. He started the first game of the double header and only went 3 2/3 innings before being knocked out. He pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief in the night cap. Reds’ first game starter Arrigo also pitched in relief for the second game, albeit for just one batter after pitching 4 2/3 innings in the first game.
As for the principals in the pregame clubhouse discussions….Pappas pitched relief in both games, pitching two innings of shut out ball in the first game before pitching six innings of relief in the second game, allowing only one run. Playing both games, Pinson went 3-10 with a double and a homer. Rose went 1-9 and Helms went 4-11 with a double. Maloney did not pitch, having just pitched a complete game victory over the Cardinals two days earlier.
As for the players’ futures…well, I don’t know that the issues are related, but Pappas (acquired in the unpopular Frank Robinson trade) was dealt three days later to the Atlanta Braves. Often maligned in baseball trade history annals, Pappas had been a very good starting pitcher for the Orioles and Reds, but was off to a slow start in 1968, having gone 2-5 with a 5.60 ERA at the time of his trade. He went 10-8 with a 2.37 ERA for the Braves during the remainder of the 1968 season.
Long time Red Pinson, having his worst season in the majors, was dealt at year’s end to the St. Louis Cardinals. Pinson batted .271 with only 5 homers and a .694 OPS in 1968. Pinson is among the Reds’ leaders in many career and seasonal offensive categories, five times being named in the top 20 in National League MVP voting before his trade. However, his best seasons were behind him.