June 26, 1938–Reds second baseman Lonnie Frey collects eight hits in a double header, five in the second game alone, as the Reds split a twinbill with the last place Philadelphia Phillies. The Reds remain in second place, two games behind the New York Giants.
The Phillies won the first game, 10-3, as Claude Passeau (4-7) “scattered” 14 hits in going the distance. The Reds left 11 runners on base. Frey, purchased from the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, had three hits for the Reds, including a double. Jim Weaver (4-3) took the loss for the Reds.
The Reds won the nightcap, 8-5, behind the five hit performance of Frey. Frey’s batting average rose from .248 to .281 on the day as he went 8-10, with a double and two second game triples. Paul Derringer (10-5) “scattered” 14 hits in going the distance for the Reds to pick up the win.
Frey may be one of the best Reds’ players you never heard of, and quite possibly the Reds’ best second baseman in their history to play between Hall of Famers Bid McPhee and Joe Morgan. Frey had been a good hitting, but error-prone shortstop with the Brooklyn Dodgers (44 errors one year and 51 in another) before being dealt to the Cubs. Stuck behind Billy Herman at 2b and Billy Jurges at SS for the Cubs, he received limited playing time. The Reds purchased his contract and installed him as their second baseman and he began paying dividends.
Frey was possibly the Reds’ best position player in 1939, the year they won the National League championship but lost to the Yankees in the World Series.. Frey batted .291 with 11 homers and 55 rbi, led the majors with 25 sacrifice bunts, and was named to his first all-star team. Using the metric WAR (wins above replacement), Frey’s 6.0 wins above replacement was exceeded only by league MVP pitcher Bucky Walters who scored 9.3. Frey continued his stellar play in the Reds’ World Championship Year of 1940. He batted .266 with 8 homers, 54 rbi, and led the National League with 22 steals. His WAR rating was 6.6, with league MVP Frank McCormick achieving a 6.0. Pitcher Walters again had the highest rating at 6.7.
Frey was named to two more all-star teams, the 1941 and 1943 National League squads. Postseason play was not kind to Frey. He played on three World Series teams, having also played for the 1947 New York Yankees. In eight World Series games, Frey was 0-21 with one walk.
As for the Reds in 1938, they spent most of the season in the middle of the pack. They did close to within 1.5 games of first place a few times around the time of Frey’s eight hit explosion, but that would be as close as the Reds would get in 1938. However, with the acquisition of Walters duirng the 1938 season, the Reds were poised to make their World Series drives in both 1939 and 1940, eventually winning the World Championship in 1940.