I am a fourth generation Reds fan. My maternal great-grandfather was born in 1900 and loved the Reds. He passed away in 1992 having witnessed all five of the Reds World Series titles.

My father lived and died by the Reds of the 1970s, the Big Red Machine. I remember the stories. “Not an easy out in the lineup” he would say. “They could score on anyone at any time.” Just the names give me chills: Bench, Rose, Foster, Morgan, Griffey, Perez, Conception, and Geronimo. As someone who saw Joe Randa start opening day at third base for the Reds, I can’t imagine what it was like to see those guys hit every day.

The Reds have had great players in every generation. Just as my father passed down the stories of legends in his time, and the generations before him told tales of Ernie Lombardi, Eppa Rixey, and the early years of Frank Robinson, I can’t wait to tell my kids about Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Jose Rijo, and Joey Votto.

The Cincinnati Reds have a tremendous history and as Reds fans, we should celebrate that history.

ESPN recently released their annual Hall of 100, an attempt to rank the best baseball players of all time regardless of off the field suspicions and/or sins.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has become a place for debates on the morality of players as opposed to the worthiness of individual candidates based on their baseball performances. Voters have taken a hard stance against players suspected of using performance enhancing substances. Some writers suggest that we should ignore such suspicions and vote the best players in regardless of whether they “cheated” their way to greatness or not. Others would like the Hall of Fame to recognize only those players that achieved greatness without controversial substances.

Regardless of whether it is justified or not, we should all accept the fact that a baseball Hall of Fame without Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, etc. ignores some of the greatest players in the history of the game. The ESPN Hall of 100 disregards such controversies.

Several players on the list may never make the Baseball Hall of Fame because of suspected PED use or other issues. Besides those listed above, some of these controversial players are Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Manny Ramirez. Two of these controversial players even made the top ten:

  1. Babe Ruth
  2. Willie Mays
  3. Barry Bonds
  4. Ted Williams
  5. Hank Aaron
  6. Ty Cobb
  7. Roger Clemens
  8. Stan Musial
  9. Mickey Mantle
  10. Honus Wagner

The list includes 27 pitchers and 73 position players from all eras of the game. Only three current players made the top 100 with Alex Rodriguez ranked 23rd, Albert Pujols 29th, and Miguel Cabrera 47th (Felix Hernandez was an honorable mention selection).

The remarkable history of the Cincinnati Reds did not go unrecognized. On the list were seven players that played significant portions of their careers with the Reds:

  • Joe Morgan #18
  • Frank Robinson #20
  • Tom Seaver #22
  • Johnny Bench #26
  • Ken Griffey JR #35
  • Pete Rose #38
  • Barry Larkin #75

Tom Seaver and Ken Griffey Jr are more closely associated with other franchises but did have good seasons for the Reds. Frank Robinson obviously had great years after the Reds traded him, but the Hall of Fame lists the Reds as Robinson’s primary team. What an amazing list. Reds from several eras are represented.

We are all excited about the upcoming season and the future of the Reds. Even so, let us not forget just how special the Reds’ past is. One day, my son (who is only 7 weeks old at the moment) will ask his grandfather about Pete Rose and Johnny Bench, and the stories will continue on. Those stories aren’t just part of the Reds story; they are part of my family’s story.

I remember sitting around a fire in summer with my brother and father, listening to Marty. I recall Kevin Mitchell swinging so hard at a pitch that the patrons at Riverfront gasped. And I’ll never forget celebrating with my brother at GABP when Adam Dunn hit a two run homerun in the ninth to beat the Indians. These aren’t just Reds memories. They are memories of family, childhood, and those I care about most.

As a way to celebrate the Reds past, we will have a series of articles on the Reds greats listed in the ESPN Hall of 100. Many of you watched all of these players and will undoubtedly have fascinating stories to tell. We can’t wait to hear them. As we piece together each other’s stories and make them our own, our children and grandchildren will get a fuller picture of just how great the Cincinnati Reds have been. They’ll also get a clearer picture of what this franchise has meant to our families for generations.