September 16, 1882: The Cincinnati Red Stockings clinch the first pennant of the new major league, the American Association, with a 6-1 victory over the Louisville Eclipse. The Red Stockings finish the year 55-25, 11 1/2 games ahead of the second place Philadelphia Athletics.
The Red Stockings were managed by catcher Pop Snyder who led the Red Stockings to a first place finish in 1882 and a third place finish in 1883. Playing in the majors for 18 years, in 1882, Snyder batted .291 with 50 rbi (OPS+ of 117). The offense was led by third baseman Hick Carpenter, who played more games at 3B than any other player in Cincinnati history. In 1882, Carpenter batted .342 with 67 rbi, an OPS+ of 155. It was his best major league season. Joe Sommer was the leading outfield hitter, batting .288 with an OPS+ of 129.
However, the star of the Red Stockings was their pitcher, Will White. White won 40 games that year (40-12) with a 1.54 ERA in 54 games on the mound. He led the league in wins, complete games (52), shutouts (eight) and innings pitched (480). He followed up his 1882 season, by going 43-22 in 1883, leading the league in wins and ERA (2.09). White loved to pitch inside to intimidate the hitters. He played 10 major league seasons (eight with Cincinnati) and finished his career 229-166 with a 2.28 ERA (121 ERA+). White’s mound mate was Harry McCormick who went 14-11 with a 1.52 ERA and 24 complete games. He pitched four seasons in the majors going 41-58. WIn two seasons with the Red Stockings, McCormick was 22-17 with a 2.02 ERA (143 ERA+).
One oddity for the 1882 team….their opening day first baseman was a player named Bill Tierney who played on opening day and quit after the game. He went 0-5 in the game and is the only Cincinnati player in history to make an opening day start and never play for Cincinnati again. He did play one other game as a major leaguer. He played outfield one game in 1884 for the Baltimore Monumentals of the short-lived Union Association and went 1-3 with a walk.
In fairness to all, the first year of the American Association was not great baseball. As quoted from “The Great Encyclopedia of 19th-Century Baseball” by David Nemec:
“…the quality of play its teams exhibited (in) the Association was not nearly so precocious in its first season. The Cincinnati Red Stockings, piloted by catcher Pop Snyder, the lone established player to ditch the (National) League and sign with a rebel (American) Association team, featured three regulars from the 1880 Cincinnati team that had been expelled by the (National) League, and eight of the club’s other performers, including Snyder, had previous major league experience.”
It doesn’t matter, the Red Stockings won going away, starting the season 20-10, and then playing .700 ball the rest of the season.
September 16, 1896: The Reds sweep a doubleheader from the Pittsburgh Pirates as pitchers Billy Rhines and Frank Dwyer both hurl shutouts. Rhines pitched a six-hitter in the first game as the Reds scored 10 first inning runs and then won, 11-0. Dwyer spun a five-hitter in the second game as the Reds won, 4-0.
The 1896 Reds were built on pitching and defense. The Reds allowed the second fewest runs per game in the league (by a fraction) and were led by a team of five starting pitchers. The idea of using many starting pitchers rather than a few was pioneered by Hall of Fame manager Buck Ewing. According to Chris Jaffe’s book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers”, Ewing is one of the most underrated managers of all-time and at least one database rates him as one of the very best managers ever. Ewing only managed six years and his Hall of Fame induction came as a result of being considered the 19th Century’s best catcher. He was essentially the Johnny Bench of his day. Ewing’s Hall of Fame playing days, though, came with the New York Giants (sometimes Gothams) and he only played 2+ plus seasons in Cincinnati, mainly as a first baseman, batting .302. His career OPS+ for 18 seasons is 129 with a career batting average of .303. Ewing also pioneered the use of the relief pitcher, albeit only a few times in the season, but he was a “Captain Hook” in comparison to other managers of his age.
The 1896 Reds’ leading pitcher was Dwyer, who finished the year 24-11 with a 3.15 ERA (147 ERA+), followed by Red Ehret who was 18-14 with a 3.42 ERA (135 ERA+). Frank Foreman (14-7, 3.97, 116 ERA+), Chauncey Fisher (10-7, 4.45, 104 ERA+) and Rhines (8-6, 2.45, 189 ERA+) all pitched between 143 and 288 innings. Rhines led the league in ERA and Dwyer was fourth.
Their position players were built on defense. Hall of Fame second baseman Bid McPhee used a glove for the first time and set a record for fielding percentage. Third baseman Charlie Irwin led the league in fielding percentage. Outfielder Dusty Miller was the leading hitter on the team, batting .321 with 54 extra base hits (38 doubles) and 93 rbi (113 OPS+).
The 1896 Reds finished the season in third place with a 77-50 record, 12 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. They were in first place as late as August 19 before going on a dreadful 11 game losing streak to knock them out of the race. The 1896 Reds led the league in atteandance.
September 16, 1912: The Reds sweep a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia as Art Fromme and Rube Benton both pitch shutouts. Fromme pitched a four-hitter in the first game as the Reds won 6-0, and Benton pitched a five-hitter to outduel Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, 1-0.
The Reds finished in fourth place with a 75-78 record, 29 1/2 games behind the New York Giants. The anemic Reds’ offense finished last in runs scored per game, while their pitching/defense was in the middle. Fromme finished the year 16-18 with a 2.74 ERA (123 ERA+) and pitched in five different seasons for the Reds, going 49-50 with a 2.74 ERA (112 ERA+). His best season was 1909 when he went 19-13 with a 1.90 ERA. Benton finished his first full major league season with an 18-20 mark and a 3.10 ERA (109 ERA+). He led the league with 50 games pitched and 39 starts. He pitched 15 major league seasons going 150-144 with a 3.09 ERA for his career. In nine seasons with the Reds, he went 84-91 with a 3.28 ERA. The Reds’ best offensive player for the year was speedy outfielder Bob Bescher, who finished fifth in MVP voting. He lead the league with 67 steals and 120 runs scored to go with his .281 batting average and .381 OBP. His OPS was .777 (OPS+ of 117).
September 16, 1919: The Cincinnati Reds defeat the second place New York Giants 4-3, to clinch the 1919 National League championship. Dutch Reuther was the winning pitcher during his best season (19-6, 1.82 ERA).
The 1918 Reds had finished in third place behind manager Christy Mathewson and had improved each of the two seasons he had served as manager. When Mathewson joined the military for World War I, Pat Moran took over as manager. Moran was like Ewing nearly 25 years before, a former catcher who believed in fundamentals. According to Jaffe’s book on evaluating managers, Moran would ordinarily do drills over and over for his philosophy was that the Reds would not lose on bad fundamentals. He also believed in conditioning and sometimes made the players walk two miles each way to practice during spring training for two-a-day practices. One difference in Moran and Ewing was that he preferred to ride his best starting pitchers for as much as he could. Jaffe’s book says that Moran may be the most underrated manager in baseball history.
The 1919 Reds finished with an outstanding 96-44 record, a .686 won-loss percentage, nine games ahead of the Giants who also won more than 60% of their games (87-53). The 1919 Reds team only allowed 2.9 runs per game (first in the league) while scoring 4.1 runs per game (2nd in the league). The Reds also finished second in attendance.
September 16, 1944: Thirty-two year-old rookie pitcher Tommy de la Cruz throws a one-hitter as the Reds defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1, in the first game of a double header. The Reds also won the second game, 3-1, as Arnold Carter went the distance for the Reds in that game, too.
In the first game, the Pirates’ only hit came in the first inning on a run-scoring triple by Frank Colman after Jim Russell had drawn a walk. De la Cruz walked four and struck out three during the game. The Reds scored a run in the first and a run in the ninth. Both Reds’ runs came on run-scoring singles by third baseman Steve Mesner, driving in catcher Ray Mueller both times. Mueller had three hits in the game.
Mueller caught every game for the 1944 Reds, who were short on quality players due to World War II. Mueller caught every Reds game from July 31, 1943 through May 6, 1946, except for the 1945 season when he was serving in the army, a record of 233 games at the time. His record was broken by Frankie Hayes who caught 312 consecutive games during World War II to set the record. Hayes broke Mueller’s record playing for three different teams. Mueller played in all 155 games during 1944, batting .286 with 10 homers and 73 rbi (115 OPS+). The 1944 Reds’ offense was led by star first baseman Frank McCormick, who batted .305 with 20 homers and 102 rbi (143 OPS+).
Star pitcher and former MVP Bucky Walters had another outstanding season, leading the National League in wins, finishing 23-8 with a 2.40 ERA (146 ERA+). Ed Heusser led the league in ERA at 2.38 to go with his 13-11 record. De la Cruz, playing in his only major league season, finished the year 9-9 with a 3.25 ERA. At season’s end, he joined the Cuban army for World War II and did not return to the majors when the war ended.
The 1944 Reds finished the year in third place with a record of 88-65, 16 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Bill McKechnie is considered to be a brilliant manager in Jaffe’s book. He, too, focused on pitching and defense, and preferred workhorses on the mound like Walters.
September 16, 1954: Redlegs first baseman Ted Kluszewski clubs his 49th home run of the year, a record that will last over 20 years, as the Redlegs beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 9-3, in Brooklyn.
Kluszewski’s 1954 was his best season. He batted .326 and led the majors and set Cincinnati records with both 49 homers and 141 runs batted in. He had an OPS of 1.042 (OPS+ 167), with an OBP of .407 and a SLP of .642. He scored in 17 consecutive games and only struck out 35 times all year. Kluszewski finished second to Willie Mays in the MVP voting for the year. Kluszewski’s Reds’ rbi record stood until Johnny Bench drove in 148 in 1970 and his Reds’ home run record stood until George Foster hit 52 in 1977. Kluszewski played 11 seasons with the Redlegs/Reds, batting .302 with 251 homers and 886 rbi. He played 15 seasons in his entire career, batting .298 with 279 home runs and 1028 rbi.
The 1954 Redlegs, finished the year 74-80, fifth in the National League, 23 games behind the New York Giants.
September 16, 1972: From baseball-reference.com’s bullpen:
Following the Reds-Padres game at Riverfront Stadium, “This is your Life” host Ralph Edwards surprises Johnny Bench as the catcher is the featured guest on the program. With cameras rolling, Bench’s family and friends appear as Edwards narrates the show.
The Reds defeated the Padres, 6-3, during the game with Bench going 2-3 with two rbi. Bench was on his way to winning his second MVP award by batting .270 with 40 homers and 125 rbi. Bench appeared on the national show reviewing his life at age 24.
The 1972 Reds were National League Western Division and National League champions. The Reds finished the season 95-59, 10 1/2 games ahead of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, and beating the Pittsburgh Pirates in five games in the NLCS. They lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games in the World Series.
September 16, 1988 The Reds Tom Browning hurls the 14th perfect game in major league history in defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 1-0.
From Miscbaseball, here’s an account of Browning’s perfecto:
Tom BrowningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Perfect Game:
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an account of the perfect game thrown by Tom Browning on September 16 of 1988….
Browning pitched the 14th perfect game in major league history last night, breezing past the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0.
The 28-year-old left-hander (16-5) struck out seven and threw 102 pitches. The effort came in a game that started 2 hours and 27 minutes late because of rain.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When I got to the eighth inning, I felt a little bit antsy,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Browning. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how to explain it. Everything fell my way.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was just one of those days where everything worked, and every ball was hit right at people.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The 28-year-old left-hander found little conversation when he sat down next to catcher Jeff Reed in the Cincinnati RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ dugout Friday night, three outs away from a perfect game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was trying to take it easy myself,Ã¢â‚¬Â Reed said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to say anything about it, and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to say anything about it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So when Browning took the mound with a 1-0 lead against Los Angeles in the ninth inning and 16,591 fans screaming, he talked himself into staying calm.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just had to maintain my composure,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were only one run up, and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to give them a chance to get a rally together.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just kept talking to myself, saying what I needed to do Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to maintain my composure, to move the ball in and out.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Minutes later, he fired a fastball past pinch-hitter Tracy Woodson to complete the 14th perfect game in major-league history and set his teammates whooping.
He threw just 102 pitches, including first-pitch strikes to 21 batters. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go to three balls on a single batter and never got deeper than 2-1. He struck out seven and allowed just nine balls hit out of the infield. He threw 70 strikes and 32 balls.
Browning didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need any spectacular plays from his teammates, but they were there when he needed them on well-hit balls.
In the top of the fifth, the third baseman Chris Sabo went behind the bag to snag a hard hit grounder by Mike Marshall and threw him out by a half-step.
That was the closest any of the Dodgers got to a hit against the hard-throwing Browning who improved his record to 16-5.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He threw what he wanted, when he wanted, where he wanted,Ã¢â‚¬Â Reds manager Pete Rose said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He pitched perfect. I guess thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the best way to describe it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Moments after showering a group of fans with champagne, Browning conceded he Ã¢â‚¬Å“had the hitters guessing all night. I had them guessing one way and the other. When they guessed one way, I went the other way.Ã¢â‚¬Â
There now have been a total of 18 perfect games thrown in major league history. Over three starts, Browning actually retired 40 consecutive batters, one shy of the major league record held by Jim Barr of the San Francisco Giants in 1972. He finished the 1988 season with an 18-5 record and a 3.41 ERA (105 ERA+). His best season was probably his rookie season when he went 20-9 with a 3.55 ERA, the first rookie to win 20 or more games in a season since 1954. He ended that season winning 11 games in a row. Here’s an interesting factoid: Browning was drafted in the ninth round of the 1982 draft and won six times as many games as all the other pitchers combined that were selected in that draft.
For his career, Browning 123-90 with a 3.94 ERA in 12 seasons. Browning almost had a second no-hitter in 1988, having no-hit the San Diego Padres for 8 1/3 innings on June 6 in a Reds 12-0 win over the Padres. Tony Gwynn broke up that no-hitter with a one-out single.