December 4, 1973: The Reds trade young staring pitcher Ross Grimsley and minor league catcher Wally Williams to the Baltimore Orioles for reserve outfielder Merv Rettenmund minor league second baseman Junior Kennedy, and minor league catcher Bill Wood.
Grimsley was a Reds #1 draft pick in 1969 amateur draft and was 20-12 in his first two minor league seasons, including an 11-8 mark with a 2.73 ERA in AAA at age 20. After beginning the 1971 season 6-0 with a 2.93 ERA at AAA, the Reds recalled Grimsley to a struggling 1971 Reds team and he had a very good rookie season. Grimsley was 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA (92 ERA+) in 26 starts as 21-year-0ld rookie. He was 14-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 1972, plus winning one game in the National League Championship Series and winning two more games in the World Series. Grimsley was 13-10 with a 3.23 ERA for the 1973 Western Division champions.
However, Grimsley was a free-spirit who didn’t always conform to the Reds conservative image. From The Hardball Times:
Early in his major league career, Grimsley established himself as a pitcher who felt governed by more than fastballs and curveballs; he felt regulated by the laws of superstition. During his rookie season of 1971, a television reporter introduced Grimsley to a witch, believing that she could bring the struggling neophyte left-hander good luck. The witch gave Grimsley a charmÃ¢â‚¬â€a greenish-blue stone put into a setting and linked to a chain. After receiving the charm, Grimsley pitched well and won four games in a row. He then lost the charm. Soon after, Grimsley lost his next two games. He telephoned the witch, who sent him another charm. Grimsley proceeded to lose the replacement charm; when he tried to contact the witch again, he realized he had lost her number, as well.
GrimsleyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s manager, the old school Sparky Anderson, learned about the left-handerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s communications with the witch and called him into the office. Anderson advised him to forget about the charm and the witch, warning him that continued publicity about his superstition might result in him being branded by the rest of baseball. Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re crazy,Ã¢â‚¬Â Anderson told Grimsley face-to-face, according to an article in The Sporting News. Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be known as the clown of the league once this gets around.Ã¢â‚¬Â Grimsley didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care. He defended his belief in the charm. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll help me win,Ã¢â‚¬Â he told The Sporting News, Ã¢â‚¬Å“why shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t I keep in touch with the witch?Ã¢â‚¬Â Remaining steadfast in his superstitions, Grimsley collected pocketfuls of lucky pennies, coins and charms of various sorts during his career.
Good luck charms aside, Grimsley enjoyed early success with the Reds. Employing a herky-jerky windup and an exceedingly slow but deceptive change-up (once clocked as slow as 42 miles per hour), Grimsley won two games in the 1972 World Series against the Oakland AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. Yet, he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel comfortable under Anderson and certainly didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fit in with the corporate image preferred by the RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ front office. The Reds enforced strict rules about grooming, insisting on short hair, no mustaches and absolutely no beards; Grimsley preferred to wear his black hair long and curly, and he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always like to shave. In general, the Reds existed as a conservative organization; Grimsley existed as a free-spirited radical. Inevitably, the two could not co-exist. After the 1973 season, the Reds traded the left-hander to the Baltimore Orioles for backup outfielder Merv Rettenmund.
The Hardball Times also reports some unusual grooming habits, but these may (or may not) have developed later while playing for the Orioles.
Grimsley won 18 games his first season in Baltimore and later was a 20-game winner while with the Montreal Expos. Arm injuries finally finished him at age 32 following the 1982 season. In 11 big league seasons, Grimsley was 124-99 with a 3.81 ERA. In three seasons with the Reds, Grimsley was 37-25 with a 3.26 ERA. The Reds certainly could have used him as their pitching fell apart following the 1976 World Series. He won 14 games in 1977 and 20 more in 1978.
Outfielder Rettenmund was stuck behind the Orioles all-star outfield and came to Cincinnati with a chance at the centerfield job. The Reds Cesar Geronimo was coming off a .210 season and unhappy Bobby Tolan had batted .210 before being traded to the San Diego Padres. Good fielding Rettenmund was coming off a .262 season in Baltimore with a .789 OPS (124 OPS+) and had the reputation as an excellent fourth outfielder for the Orioles. In six seasons with the Orioles, Rettenmund ad a .383 OBP and an .819 OPS (133 OPS+).
However, Rettenmund didn’t hit in Cincinnati. In two seasons with the Reds, he hit .216 and .239 (.669 OPS, 88 OPS+) and was also dealt to the Padres for reserve infielder Rudy Meoli who never played in the majors for the Reds.
Kennedy had a cup of coffee with the Reds in 1974 (.158 in 22 games), and finally stuck with the Reds as a reserve infielder in 1978. After Joe Morgan left for free agency following the 1979 season, Kennedy and youngster Ron Oester shared the second base position with Kennedy hitting .261 in 104 games in 1980. Oester won the job and Kennedy was sold to the Chicago Cubs following the 1981 season. Catches Wood and Williams never made the majors.