November 8, 1894: Future Hall of Famer King Kelly dies of pneumonia in Boston, MA. As baseball-reference.com says, Kelly may have been the most popular player of the 19th Century. Kelly was 36 years-old at the time of his passing, having played his last major league season the previous year.
Kelly twice played for Cincinnati teams. He broke into baseball with the Cincinnati Reds in the first National League in 1878-79 before leaving as a free agent to join the dynasty of that day, the Chicago White Stockings. He later returned to Cincinnati in 1891 to form a new American Association team to replace the Cincinnati Red Stockings which had jumped from the AA to the National League. Kelly’s team was sometimes called the Cincinnati Porkers, but is remembered today as Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers.
To read more about Kelly, check this out. Many of today’s rules came as a result of Kelly finding ways to skirt the rules of the day. Kelly would cut across the diamond while running the bases, fake catches in the field, pass runners on the bases, and substitute while plays were in process. He was possibly the greatest baseball strategist in history. He’s credited with inventing the slide, and was honored with a popular song of the day, appropriately titled “Slide, Kelly, Slide.” It’s said that while being admitted to the hospital just before he died, that the attendants tripped and dumped him on the floor. Kelly responded by saying “That’s my last slide.”
His best Cincinnati season came in his second season, 1878, when he batted .348 with an OPS+ of 184. His best season came with the White Stockings in 1886, when he batted .388 with a .483 on base percentage and scored an incredible 155 runs in only 118 games. With Kelly’s Killers in 1891, Kelly batted .297 with a 126 OPS+. For his career, he batted .308 with 1357 runs scored in 1455 games, and an OPS+ of 138. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.
November 7, 1999: The Reds’ reliever Scott Williamson is named rookie of the year. Williamson, the Reds 1997 9th round draft choice, finished the year 12-7 with a 2.41 ERA and 19 saves.
Williamson was virtually unhittable for the Reds, allowing only 54 hits in 93 innings, walking 43 and striking out 107. He allowed only 5.2 hits per nine innings, striking out almost exactly twice as many, 10.3 per nine innings. From May 1 through June 10, Williamson did not allow a run over 14 appearances and 23 innings. He allowed nine hits and struck out 30 batters in that span, going 4-0 with five saves.
Williamson became a swing man the next season, with 10 of his 48 appearances coming in a starting role. As a starter he was 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA, allowing 47 hits and striking out 53 in in 55 innings. As a reliever, Williamson was 2-5 with six saves, a 3.65 ERA, and allowed 45 hits in 57 innings, striking out 83.
Arm injuries limited Williamson to 2/3 of an inning in 2001, and Williamson was sent to the bullpen for the remainder of his career to try to protect his arm. In five seasons with the Reds, Williamson was 25-22 with a 2.93 ERA and 54 saves, striking out 380 batters in 322 innings. Williamson was traded to the Boston Red Sox during the 2003 season and played another four years, pitching for four different teams. For his career, Williamson was 28-28 with a 3.36 ERA and 55 saves
Oddly enough, in 2003, when Williamson was traded to the Red Sox, Williamson pitched in 24 games, covering 20 innings with an 0-1 record with no saves and a 6.20 ERA after going 5-3 with a 3.19 ERA and 21 saves for the Reds. However, Williamson was the workhorse for the Red Sox offseason. In the American League Division Series, Williamson won two of the three Red Sox victories and saved all three of the Red Sox victories in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. In eight postseason games, Williamson pitched eight innings, going 2-0 with three saves. He allowed only three hits and struck out 14.
Williamson also serves as an example on contracts. In his first four seasons with the Reds, Williamson never made more than $400,000 per year. He started 2003 with the Reds making $1.75 million before being traded to the Red Sox at the trade deadline. For 2004, Williamson’s salary increased to $3.175 million, but he only pitched 28 2/3 innings for the Red Sox that season. For 2005-07, he was paid $3.4 million total to pitch 75 games, covering 65 innings, with a 3-4 record and a 5.43 ERA. The Reds definitely got the best value out of the contract years.