November 4, 1885: Tony Mullane, who has won 30 or more games in each of his first three full seasons, agrees to a contract to pitch for the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Unfortunately for the Red Stockings and Mullane, Mullane had previously agreed to an oral contract to return to his 1883 team, the St. Louis Brown Stockings and his current team, the Toledo Blue Stockings, weren’t happy about him leaving either. After having jumped teams after each of his first three years in the league, the American Association suspends Mullane from play for one season as a punishment for team-jumping. They do allow him to keep his salary from the Red Stockings.
The one year suspension almost certainly cost Mullane 300 career wins and most likely a spot in MLB’s Hall of Fame. For his career, Mullane was 284-220 with a 3.05 ERA over 13 seasons. From 1882-1887, Mullane won 30 or more games in every season, except for the 1885 season when he did not play. Mullane has the third most wins of any pitcher not in the Hall of Fame. Bobby Mathews won 297 games, but 131 came in the National Association (1871-1875) which isn’t regarded as a major league by MLB, and Bert Blyleven won 287. Mullane is the all-time wins and shutouts leader for the American Association. Mullane also has the most hits of any pitcher all-time with 661, having played 250 games at other positions. Mullane is tied for the second most wins of any pitcher born out the United States. Blyleven, from the Netherlands is first and Irishman Mullane is tied with Canadian born Ferguson Jenkins for second.
Mullane pitched eight seasons for the Red Stockings, going 163-124 with a 3.15 ERA. His best season came in 1887, when he was 31-17 with a 3.24 ERA and 47 complete games in 48 starts. He was elected to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2010.
November 4, 1891: The Cincinnati Reds sign Charles Comiskey and install him as manager and first baseman of their team. Comiskey had most recently played for for the St. Louis Browns of the American Association before the Reds encouraged him to jump to the National League.
Comiskey (future owner of the Chicago White Sox) was one of the best players and managers of his era. Comiskey was instrumental in developing defensive strategy including the radical move (in that day) of having the first baseman play off first base instead of on the bag to increase the first baseman’s range. Comiskey had played in the American Association from it’s inception in 1882, but had jumped to the Player’s League and the Chicago Pirates in 1890 before returning to St. Louis in 1891. As a manager, he had won four consecutive titles with the St. Louis Browns of the AA.
Comiskey was on the downside of his playing years when he joined the Reds. He was a starter his first season, batting .227 with 71 rbis at first base (71 OPS+) before making himself a bench player his last two seasons. In three seasons with the Reds, he hit .234 with an 82 OPS+. His career record showed a .264 batting average with the same 82 OPS+. As a manager, his first two seasons with the Reds were winners (82-68 and 65-63) before going 55-75 in his third and final season. Comiskey was replaced as manager by another future Hall of Famer, former catcher Buck Ewing, whose best and instrumental playing days had passed.
Comiskey’s management style was based on control pitching and sharp defense. In Chris Jaffe’s book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers,” he describes Comiskey as a manager who loved steals and who loved to ride his primary pitchers for as long as they could bear. Comiskey later founded the Chicago White Sox and was the owner of the White Sox during the 1919 World Series vs. the Reds that was stained by scandal.
November 4, 1981: The Reds trade Ken Griffey to the New York Yankees for minor league pitcher Brian Ryder and a player to be named later. In December, the Reds received pitcher Fred Toliver to complete the deal.
The Reds were still reeling from the newly developed free agent market that developed in the late 1970’s. To keep from losing Griffey to free agency they dealt him to the Yankees for two minor league pitchers. Ryder pitched two minor league seasons with the Reds and was done at age 23. Toliver pitched in three games (one start) for the Reds and had no decisions with an 0.90 ERA. In ten innings, he allowed seven hits, but walked seven, striking out four during the 1984 season. Toliver became essentially a AAAA pitcher, playing in seven major league seasons for five different teams, compiling a 10-16 record with a 4.73 ERA in 78 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Griffey went on to play ten more major league seasons (total of 19 major league years). Griffey had joined the Reds in 1973 and played through the 1981 season, returning to the Reds to play with them from 1988-90. Griffey was a three-time all-star for the Reds and came within a few points of winning the 1976 batting title when he hit .336. In 12 career seasons with the Reds, he batted .303 with 71 homers and 156 steals. For his career, Griffey batted .296 with 152 home runs.