Call me a weirdo if you’d like, but old baseball footage just puts me in a good mood. On Friday afternoon I stumbled upon some video of the Cincinnati Reds from 1950, reportedly from March 7th in spring training. Assuming that is the correct date, this video would have been shot in Tampa, where the Reds held their spring training from 1931-1987, with the exception of 1943-1945 due to World War II when it was held in Bloomington, Indiana.
Thanks to Baseball-Reference, we can actually put some names with a few of the faces in the video by matching up jersey numbers (we’re going to assume guys didn’t change them after spring training). Of course, as it happens, one key point of the video early on is what appears to be a coach and a pitcher looking at a baseball with a line drawn on it, then the pitcher making a throw off of the mound with that ball. The pitcher, wearing #39, either didn’t make the team that year, or knowing that 70 years in the future I’d be trying to match up this video and his jersey, and switched numbers to outsmart me.
The video opens up with the team stretching together as a whole. It seems that things are being led by #2, who at least according to Baseball-Reference is Ted Tappe. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t feel too bad. He played in all of 11 games for the Cincinnati Reds between the 1950 and 1951 seasons. At the time the video was shot he had just turned 19-years-old. He had never played in the Major Leagues at that point – an unsurprising fact given that he had just turned 19 – and wouldn’t see time with the Reds until mid-September. Tappe made his Major League debut as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning on September 14th against the Brooklyn Dodgers in New York. He made his presence known immediately as he clubbed a solo home run in his professional debut. He would not record another hit on the season, going 0-5 as a pinch hitter with one walk the rest of the season.
When the video cuts to a closer shot of the players, we’ve got the great Peanuts Lowrey and Eddie Erautt in the foreground. It was the first time in spring training with the Reds for Peanuts Lowrey, who had arrived in Cincinnati the previous season in a trade that saw he and Harry Walker join the Reds, and the Reds send Hank Sauer and Frank Baumholtz to the Chicago Cubs on June 15th of 1949. After a Sauer would go on to hit 198 home runs for the Cubs in seven seasons – including the 1952 season in which he won the MVP award. Lowrey had a solid Major League career, but he struggled with the Reds. In 1950 he hit just .227/.320/.292. Late in the season the Cardinals bought his rights from the Reds.
Pitcher Eddie Erautt was coming off of a good year in 1949 for Cincinnati. He threw 112.2 innings – mostly out of the bullpen – and had a 3.36 ERA (126 ERA+). Here’s how much the game has changed – he put up a well above-average ERA while walking 61 batters with just 43 strikeouts. Things didn’t go so well for him moving forward, though. In 1950 he pitched in just 65.1 innings and posted a 5.65 ERA.
At the 45 second mark of the video we get a clip of Johnny Wyrostek in the cage taking some live batting practice. That was a good year for the outfielder, who would go on to be named to his first All-Star team that season. The left-handed hitting right fielder put up a .285/.357/.418 line with 34 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 52 walks, and just 38 strikeouts in 131 games played. In the field he also added eight assists – five from right field and another three from left.
Just thought it would be cool to pass along the video, and provide a little bit of information on the few identifiable players from the video.