September 1: the day that rosters expand in baseball and a day of Reds pitching feats (not feets):

September 1, 1924: Reds pitchers Carl Mays and Rube Benton both pitch complete game shutouts as the Reds sweep a Labor Day doubleheader from the St. Louis Cardinals in Cincinnati.

The Reds 1924 season had started in an awful way. Manager Pat Moran, who had guided the Reds to a 425-329 record and the 1919 World Series victory in five seasons, died in spring training from Bright’s disease. According to “Redleg Journal” (by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder), Moran fell ill on a train on March 1 during spring training, was admitted to a hospital on March 4, and died on March 7. In the recent book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” (by Chris Jaffe), Moran is listed as possibly the most underrated manager in baseball history.

Moran was replaced by Jack Hendricks who went on to manage six years for the Reds and has the third most wins of any Reds manager (469-450). Hendricks inherited a team built on pitching and defense in a big ballpark where the new home run balls often fell into outfielder’s gloves for outs.

The Reds overcome their spring training adversity to finish fourth for the season (83-70), ten games behind the pennant winning New York Giants. The Reds led the league with a 3.12 ERA, while finishing next to last in runs scored per game (4.24) despite the hitting of Hall of Fame centerfielder Edd Roush (.348, led the league with 21 triples). The Reds primarily used a four man rotation of Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey (15-14, 2.76 ERA), Mays (20-9, 3.15), Pete Donohue (16-9, 3.60), and Dolf Luque (10-15, 3.16). Their fifth starter was Rube Benton (7-9, 2.77).

In fifth place on September 1, the Reds sent Mays to the mound in the first game versus the Cardinals. Mays is probably best known today as the only pitcher to kill a batter with a pitched ball. While pitching for the New York Yankees in 1920, a Mays pitch hit Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in the temple and Chapman died the next morning. Mays, known to be a “head hunter” as a pitcher always claimed the pitch was an accident, but the memory always affected Mays’s reputation. Mays was a five-time 20 game winner and one of the best pitchers in the American League in the early 1920’s at the time of Chapman’s beaning. Mays wasn’t generally liked by players of his day anyway. From baseball-reference.com’s bullpen section:

“He (Mays) developed a unique submarine delivery which had him often scrape his knuckles against the mound when pitching. He could release the ball at a variety of angles, making it very hard for opposite batters to pick up the ball. His pitches had a very heavy sinking effect that one opposite batter, Hod Ford, compared to “hitting a chuck of lead; It would go clunk and you’d beat it into the ground”. This would induce an incredible amount of ground balls, and he set Boston team records for assists by a pitcher from 1916 to 1918, recording over 117 each season. Yet, for having a style that made him keep the ball down, he would always hit a fair share of opposing batters, as he never wanted to surrender the inside of the plate to them. Coupled with a surly demeanor, “like a man with a permanent toothache” and a tendency to berate his fielders when they made errors, he was one of the least-liked men in baseball during his prime.

The Reds purchased Mays from the Yankees in December of 1923 that further solidified an already outstanding pitching staff. On September 1, 1924, Mays pitched a four-hitter in a Reds 5-0 win, with May contributing three hits of his own. Mays was a .268 lifetime hitter over 15 major league seasons to go with his career 208-126 record with a 2.92 ERA.

The second game was pitched by Rube Benton who hurled a two-hitter himself, his only shutout of the season. The Reds won this game, 9-0, as the Reds laced Hall of Fame pitcher Jesse Haines for 16 hits, including three triples. Jake Daubert had three hits, and Roush had two hits, including a triple and a home run to go with four rbi.

It was Benton’s second go-round with the Reds, pitching for the Reds from 1910-15 and from 1923-25, the alpha and omega of Benton’s career. Benton had been implicated in the 1919 World Series betting scandal and admitted to gambling on baseball, but claimed to have no knowledge of the Black Sox scandal. He was banned from baseball for a short-time, but reinstated in 1921 while pitching for the New York Giants.

Benton’s career record was 150-144 in 15 seasons; with the Reds he was 84-91 with a 3.28 ERA in nine seasons.

September 1, 1964 and September 1, 1965: Jim Maloney only pitched on September 1 twice in his 12 year big league career, but both times he came up big.

On September 1, 1964, he allowed only three hits and struck out 13 as the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs, 2-1. Leo Cardenas drove in what proved to be the winning run with a fourth inning single.

Maloney struck out the first four batters he faced and seven of the first nine batters he faced, all on swinging strike threes. He finally gave up a run on two hits in the fourth inning, but allowed only one other single and walked one in the complete game victory. Maloney finished the 1964 season 15-10 with a 2.71 ERA. One note (to save for later)…rookie Mel Queen was in right field on this day for the Reds. He later switched to pitcher and comes up big on September 1, 1967.

Maloney also pitched September 1, 1965 and nearly duplicated his 1964 effort. Pitching the second game of a double header for the Reds in a 2-0 shut out victory over the Milwaukee Braves, Maloney fires a five-hitter, walking one, and striking out 12.

The Reds scored their runs early on a second inning home run by Tony Perez and a third inning sacrifice fly by Vada Pinson. Rookie shortstop Tommy Helms had three hits, including a triple, in this game during his September cup of coffee. In the first game of the day, Helms had provided a bottom of the ninth inning pinch-triple to tie the game and later scored the winning run. Helms had 21 career triples in 5333 plate appearances, and two of them came within is first nine major league plate appearances (he also had a double in those first nine PA).

For 1965, Maloney finished 20-9 with a 2.54 ERA. For his career, he was 134-84 with a 3.19 ERA.

September 1, 1967: The Reds lose the longest game in their history, 1-0, in 21 innings to the San Francisco Giants at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

Amazingly enough, the Giants used only two pitchers and the Reds used only four pitchers themselves. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry started for the Giants and pitched 16 innings, allowing 10 hits, walking two, and striking out 12. Frank Linzy was the winning pitcher, having pitched five innings of two-hit ball in relief, walking no one and striking out three.

Converted right fielder Mel Queen started for the Reds and pitched 9 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits, walking one, and striking out 10. Ted Abernathy and Don Nottebart combined to pitch 8 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and striking out five. Bob Lee was the losing pitcher for the Reds, pitching three innings, allowing three hits, walking two, and striking out three.

The Giants scored the only run in the top of the 21st inning. Jim Ray Hart singled with one out and Ollie Brown followed with a double to left, sending Hart to third base. Hal Lanier was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dick Groat then drew a walk to force in the only run of the game. Linzy then grounded into a force out at home and Jesus Alou grounded out to the end the inning. Linzy retired the Reds in order in the 21st to end the game.

Only once in 21 innings did the Reds get a player to third base in the game. That came in the home half of the 10th inning when Perez opened the inning with a single. Chico Ruiz replaced Perez as a pinch runner. Helms struck out attempting to sacrifice Ruiz to second. Cup of coffee rookie Johnny Bench, who, like Giants catcher Tom Haller, caught the entire 21 innings for the game, singled Ruiz to third base. Cardenas was intentionally walked to load the bases, forcing Bench to second. However, Deron Johnson and Tommy Harper both flied out to end the threat.

Following the loss, the Reds were still in second place, 11 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds finished the season 87-75, in fourth place, 14 1/2 games behind the eventual World Champion Cardinals. Queen was fantastic in his first year as a starting pitcher, finishing 14-8 with a 2.76 ERA (career 20-17, 3.14). This was also Abernathy’s best year, finishing 6-3 with a 1.27 ERA and 28 saves, allowing only 63 hits in 106 innings spread across 70 games.