September 2…the baseball gods have been busy in Cincinnati…
September 2, 1870: The Cincinnati Red Stockings exacted some revenge on the Brooklyn Atlantics by defeating them, 14-3, in Cincinnati. The Atlantics had broken the Red Stockings 81 game winning streak back on June 14, 1870, in 11 innings. The loss led to cracks in the Red Stocking support system that ultimately led to the end of the professional franchise at the end of the 1870 season.
There was some additional drama to the game, having to do with player behavior. Red Stockings second baseman Charlie Sweasy had gotten into some trouble on August 29 and had been expelled from the Red Stockings baseball club due to “disgraceful” conduct on a steamboat. Sweasy was the Red Stockings’ best home run hitter in 1870, totaling 18, including a grand slam home run to win a game against Portsmouth in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the game, 29-27. Sweasy’s expulsion come as a result of some actions on a steamboat called the “Fleetwood” on the way home from Portsmouth following a game on August 26. From “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder:
“According to the captain of the boat, two or three members of the team, including Sweasy, were drunk and began fighting at the breakfast table. Calling his behavior “disgraceful,” the club expelled the second baseman on August 29, but took no action against the other players. The club hinted at more suspensions, however, saying it intended to “purge the nine of all intemperate, insubordinate, and disorderly members.” Despite the firm stance, the club reinstated a sorrowful and repentant Sweasy the next day, on the eve of a match against the visiting Atlantics.”
No doubt, the nature of the opponent and Sweasy’s ability had something to do with the forgiveness. The fans apparently gave Sweasy polite applause as he took his place on the field and he “repeatedly touched his cap in grateful acknowledgment.” He proceeded to hit a home run and score three runs in the game.
September 2, 1950: Ewell Blackwell hurls his only shutout of the year, as he one-hits the Chicago Cubs, 5-1, in Chicago. The Cubs’ only hit was a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth inning by first baseman Phil Cavaretta, who was later erased on a double play to end the game. The Cubs’ only run came in the eighth inning when Blackwell walked two and then induced pinch hitter Ron Northey to hit into a force play at second base. The Cubs Carmen Mauro then flied out to left field and pitcher Blackwell threw to second base to get runner Wayne Terwilliger who was trying to advance after the catch. Carl Sawatski scored from third on the play for the Cubs’ only run.
The Reds scored all five of their runs in the the third inning on a two-run single by Bob Usher, a two-run homer by Johnny Wyrostek, and a sacrifice fly by Connie Ryan. Wyrostek was a Reds all-star both in 1950 (.285, 8 HR, 76 rbi, 103 OPS+) and 1951 (.311, 2, 61, 105 OPS+). Blackwell was a six-time all-star for the Reds. In 1950, Blackwell finished 17-15 with a 2.97 ERA, allowing only 203 hits in 261 innings pitched.
September 2, 1951: The very next year, Reds “crafty” lefty Ken Raffensberger fires a one-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader as the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs, 7-0, at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, exactly one year after Blackwell has one-hit the Cubs in the same locale. The only Cubs’ hit was an infield single down third base line by Eddie Miksis in the third inning. Miksis was the only baserunner of the game for the Cubs. The Reds lost the second game, 2-0, as the Cubs’ Bob Rush tossed a four-hitter.
The pitching gem was Raffensberger’s fourth career one-hitter. Known for his outstanding control, Raffensberger only walked 38 batters in 248 innings in 1951, finishing the year 16-17 with a 3.44 ERA and leading the league with a 1.086 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). Raffensberger threw 31 career shutouts, leading the league twice with five in 1949 and six in 1952. His career record was 119-154 with a 3.60 ERA; with the Reds he was 89-99 with a 3.64 ERA.
September 2, 1963: Jim Maloney having a breakout season on his way to a 23-7 record with a 2.77 ERA, fires a three-hitter, walking six, but striking out 13, as the Reds defeat the New York Mets in the second game of a double header, 1-0. The only run of the game came when Reds’ rookie second baseman Pete Rose hit the first pitch of the game out of the park for a home run. Formed Reds pitcher Jay Hook allows only four hits in the game, walking one, in the loss.
In the game, Maloney struck out every member of the Mets starting lineup except for their rookie second baseman, Ron Hunt. The Mets’ only three hits come from .211 batting first basemen Tom Harkness (a single and a double) and a single from Hook. The Mets had won the first game, 5-3, behind the complete game pitching of Al Jackson.
The home run was Rose’s sixth and final one of the 1963 season. Named Rookie of the Year, Rose batted .273 with 101 runs scored in 157 games, 25 doubles, nine triples, and six home runs.
September 2, 1970: Reds ace Gary Nolan gets some “help” from reserve outfielder Angel Bravo to defeat Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal, 2-0, in Cincinnati. Nolan throws a three-hitter and drives in both runs on a single and sacrifice fly to earn the victory. Here’s the fun story from “Redleg Journal”:
“A little ‘black magic’ helps Gary Nolan defeat the Giants and Juan Marichal, 2-0, at Riverfront Stadium. Before the game, Reds outfielder Angel Bravo, who delighted and mystified his teammates with his superstitions and uncannily accurate predictions, handed Nolan a rubber ball to carry with him during the game for good luck. ‘It only works,’ said Bravo, ‘when it is in the left pocket.’ After Nolan pitched a three-hit shutout and drove in both runs with a single and sacrifice fly, he was afraid to go back to the clubhouse. ‘I don’t know what kind of voodoo he has.’ stated Nolan.”
Nolan had an exceptional 1970, finishing the year 18-7 with a 3.27 ERA. For his career, he finished 110-70 with a 3.08 ERA. He did need last out relief help from Wayne Granger after Nolan gave up a ninth inning single and a walk (may be Nolan moved the rubber ball to his right pocket?). Granger set a major league record (since broken) by saving 35 games that year; the previous year (1969) he set a major league record (since broken) by appearing in 90 games as a pitcher.
Bravo had a short Reds career. Acquired by the Reds from the Chicago White Sox in trade, he appeared in 70 games with the Reds with 83 plate appearances, batting .271 with two extra base hits. He was traded to the San Diego Padres in 1971 for veteran outfielder Al Ferrara. Ferrara was an interesting fellow; nicknamed the “Bull” for his muscles, he was also a musician and a television actor. From baseball-reference.com’s bullpen concerning Ferrara:
Nicknamed “The Bull”, he was very muscular. A teammate, on hearing that Ferrara had played piano at Carnegie Hall, quipped that Ferrara was probably a piano mover instead of a piano player, because of the muscles. He once played a headhunter on an episode of Gilligan’s Island, and was in several episodes of the TV show Batman.
Once upon hearing that a fan had complained about the Reds only getting Ferrara in trade for Bravo, Ferrara was said to have quipped: “Who did they expect for Angel Bravo…Willie Mays?”
September 2, 1974: The Reds lose, 4-3, to the Houston Astros in a game where Joe Morgan is thrown out at home with the potentially tying run, in a nationally televised game. The Reds loss misses an opportunity to cut the Los Angeles Dodgers lead to 1 1/2 games and the Cincinnati City Council later passes a resolution against an “atrocious” call in the game.
The defending National League Western Division champion Reds had been chasing the Dodgers all summer. The Dodgers’ biggest lead over the Reds had been 10 1/2 games in early July, but the Reds had caught fire. From July 10 through September 1, the Reds had gone 32-16 and cut the Dodger lead to 2 1/2 games. The Reds-Astros games was chosen to be the national baseball game of the week at a time when only one game was shown to the world at a time, not like today when nearly every game is shown in its entirely somewhere in the technological world.
The Reds struck in the top of the first inning when Tony Perez singled home Pete Rose with the game’s first run and they made it 2-0 on Morgan’s second inning home run. The Astros got on the board in their half of the third when they scored on a fielder’s choice ground out, and then took the lead in the fifth inning on a run-scoring single to centerfield and a suicide squeeze bunt, the Astros second sacrifice bunt of the inning. The Astros stretched their lead to 4-2 when Doug Rader homered off Reds starter Tom Carroll.
The Reds seventh inning comeback fell just short. With one out, Rose singled to left field. Morgan singled to right field with Rose advancing to third base and Morgan advancing to second base on an Astros error by rightfielder Greg Gross. The Astros called on Ken Forsch to relieve Larry Dierker on the mound and Johnny Bench followed with a double into shallow left field scoring Rose. Morgan, however, was called out at the plate when TV angles appeared to show him being safe at home. Perez struck out to end the rally. Forsch retired the Reds in order in both the eighth and ninth innings to save the game.
From the book “Day by Day in Cincinnati Reds History” by Floyd Conner and John Snyder:
“A bad call in a game in Houston costs the Reds a possible victory in the torrid Western Division pennant race. In the seventh inning with the Astros leading 4-2, Pete Rose on third base and Joe Morgan on second, Johnny Bench hit a single into left field, easily scoring Rose. Morgan also attempted to score, and appeared to bat throw to the plate, but umpire Jerry Dale signaled out. The game was nationally televised by NBC, and replays clearly showed Morgan to be safe. The Reds wound up 4-3 losers. Two days later, the Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution expressing “shock and dismay” at the “atrocious call.”
The Reds were scheduled to play the Dodgers in the next series at home, but lost two of the three to the eventual National League champions, placing the Reds 3 1/2 games behind. The Reds did eventually cut the lead to 1 1/2 games on September 14 after a 4-2 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers eventually won the division by four games, despite the Reds’ exceptional 98-64 record.