September 15, 1885: Rookie Cincinnati Red Stockings pitcher George Pechiney defeats the Baltimore Orioles, 1-0, in Baltimore. Pechiney joined the Red Stockings in August after pitching in the minors and started 11 games down the stretch. He went 7-4 with a 2.02 ERA (161 ERA+) during the last few weeks of the season. The 1885 Red Stockings finished in second place to the St. Louis Browns. The Red Stockings were 63-49, 16 games behind the Browns.
Pechiney didn’t fare as well in 1886. He started 40 games and pitched 330 innings, finishing the season 15-21 with a 4.14 ERA (85 ERA+). The nadir of his season came on April 27 when the Browns beat him 20-2 with Pechiney going the distance. He allowed 15 earned runs and 24 hits. At year’s end his contract was sold to the Cleveland Blues. In 1887 (his final season) he went 1-9 with a 7.12 ERA (61 ERA+).
The 1885 Red Stockings team was built on offense. Managed by local sportswriter Ollie Caylor (see, sportswriters can manage a team…), the offense was led by local superstar Charley Jones (fascinating biography found here…), Jones was fifth in the league in OPS and batted .322 (157 OPS+). The Red Stockings boasted one of the best infields in Cincinnati history in first baseman John Reilly ( career 128 OPS+), Hall of Fame second baseman Bid McPhee (career OPS+ 106), third baseman Hick Carpenter (OPS+ 86) and slugging shortstop Frank Fennelly (OPS+ of 118). Fennelly had a huge 1885, batting .273 with 10 homers (41 extra base hits) and 89 rbi in just 112 games (OPS+ 142).
The 1886 Red Stockings declined and were the worst Cincinnati team of their American Association era, finishing in fifth place (65-73) the only sub-.500 team of the 1880’s.
September 15, 1887: The Cincinnati Red Stockings defeat two different teams on the same day. In the morning, they defeat The New York Metropolitans, 4-0, on Staten Island, and then travel to Brooklyn to beat the Brooklyn Grays that afternoon, 11-1.
The 1887 Red Stockings finished second with an 81-54 record, 14 games behind the St. Louis Browns. The 1887 Red Stockings featured duel 30-game winners in Mike Smith (34-17, 2.94 ERA, 148 ERA+) and Tony Mullane (31-17, 3.24 ERA, 134 ERA+). (You can read more about Smith and Mullane here). John Reilly was the hitting star, batting .309 with 96 rbi in 134 games.
September 15, 1950: The pennant winning Philadelphia Phillies sweep a doubleheader from the Reds. The Reds lose the first game, 2-1, and then go 19 innings before losing the nightcap, 8-7.
The Phillies first game runs scored on a double play ground out and a home run by catcher Andy Seminick, giving them a 2-0 lead after four innings. The Reds’ only run came in the sixth inning when Virgil Stallcup doubled home Lloyd Merriman. Knuckleballer Willie Ramsdell went the distance in the loss.
The second game featured yeoman relief efforts from the Reds Herm Wehmeier who pitched 9 2/3 relief innings and allowed 11 hits and four runs, and the Phillies Jim Konstanty, who won the National League MVP in 1950 as a relief pitcher. Konstanty pitched 10 innings in relief and allowed six hits and three runs.
The Reds were leading 5-0 through the middle of the middle of the sixth before the Phillies fought back and tied it in the bottom of the ninth on a Granny Hamner two run double off Wehmeier. Both teams went scoreless over the next eight innings with nary a runner reaching third base.
The Reds finally broke the scoreless drought with two runs in the top of the 18th when Ted Kluszewski singled in Merriman and Grady Hatton to give the Reds a 7-5 lead. However, the Reds couldn’t hold the lead as the Phillies tied it in the bottom of the 18th on a Hamner sacrifice fly and a triple by Stan Lopata.
The Reds threated in the ninth when Connie Ryan doubled to lead off the inning, but was left stranded. The Phillies won it in the bottom of the 19th as the Reds’ Eddie Erautt couldn’t record an out. Eddie Waitkus singled to open the inning and Richie Ashburn beat out the bunt attempt for a single, advancing Waitkus to second base. Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones walked to load the bases, before Del Ennis won the game with a single. The hits were Waitkus’s and Ennis’s fifth hits of the day.
1950 was Kluszewski’s breakout year as the 25-year-old batted .307 with 25 homers and 111 rbi. Pitching wise, Ewell Blackwell finished the season 17-15 with a 2.97 ERA (143 ERA+), allowing only 203 hits in 261 innings pitched and placing second in the league with 188 strikeouts. The Reds finished the year 66-87, in sixth place, 24 1/2 games behind the Phillies.
September 15, 1972: In the game that probably led Fred Norman to becoming a Red, the Reds and San Diego Padres combine to set a National League record by striking out 28 times in a nine-inning game as the Padres shut out the Reds, 1-0, at Riverfront Stadium.
The Padres scored the only run of the game when Cito Gaston led off the fourth inning with a home run off Reds pitcher Don Gullett. For the day, Gullett went seven innings and allowed five hits, walked five, and struck out 11. Pedro Borbon struck out two more Padres after Gullett was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Norman was busy striking out 15 Reds in a complete game effort where he allowed seven hits and walked five. Every Reds player in the game struck out at least once, except for Borbon who did not bat. The Reds threatened in the bottom of the ninth with runners on the corner with two outs but Norman popped up Joe Morgan and struck out Bobby Tolan to end the game.
Norman finished the year 9-11 with six shutouts. The Reds traded for him the very next year and he went on to become a mainstay of the Big Red Machine pitching staff.
The 1972 Reds finished the year as National League champions with a 95-59 record and defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the League Championship Series. They lost to the Oakland Athletics four games to three in the World Series. Johnny Bench was named NL MVP in 1972 after batting .270 with 45 homers and 125 rbi.
September 15, 1979: Dan Driessen’s two-out ninth inning line drive bounces off the glove of outfielder Derrel Thomas and over the wall for a home run to provide the margin of victory in a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles.
The Reds entered the game with a slim 1/2 game lead over the second place Houston Astros. Fred Norman was pitching for the Reds against the Dodgers’ young Bob Welch. The Dodgers scored first on a Dusty Baker one-out homer in the fourth inning. The Reds tied it on a Dave Collins home run in the eighth inning setting the stage for Driessen’s drive in the ninth.
The 1979 Reds went on to win the National League Western Division, but lost the National League Championship series in three games to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
September 15, 1987: The Reds blast seven home runs in Atlanta as they beat the Braves, 21-6. Dave Parker had a HUGE day, driving in eight runs on two home runs, a double, and two singles as he went 5-5 in the game. Home runs were also hit by Leo Garcia, Buddy Bell, Terry McGriff, Barry Larkin, and Lloyd McClendon. Rookie McClendon’s was a pinch homer, one of only two he hit that season; rookie Garcia’s was the only home run of his career; and rookie McGriff’s was a grand slam and one of only three home runs he hit for his career. Six different Braves pitchers surrendered the home runs.
The 1987 Reds finished the year 84-78, in second place, six games behind the San Francisco Giants. The 1987 Reds received great years from Kal Daniels (.334, 26 homers, 64 rbi, 1.046 OPS, 169 OPS+ in 108 games) and Eric Davis (.293, 37 homers, 100 rbi, 50 SB, .991 OPS, 155 OPS+ in 129 games). The 1987 team had a tremendous bullpen with four relievers putting up impressive numbers: closer John Franco (8-5, 32 saves, 2.52 ERA, 167 ERA+), Ron Robinson (7-5, 3.68 ERA, 115 ERA+), Frank Williams (4-0, 2.30 ERA, 85 games, 184 ERA+), and Rob Murphy (8-5, 3.04 ERA, 87 games, 139 ERA+).