I feel like the only person in America that hasn’t watched the The Last Dance documentary around Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Having to cut cable led to no ESPN, which means I didn’t get to check it out. But it seems that everyone else on this blue marble we live on did see it. The ratings were through the roof and every episode had social media going crazy over many of the stories. Bouncing quarters for money, Dennis Rodman needing a vacation during the season, potentially poisoned pizza – you name it, this documentary seemed to have it.

That got me thinking about other sports figures that could make for great documentaries on them. And of course, that led to wondering about who in Cincinnati Reds history would make for a great one. There are going to be a whole lot of possible answers that work here, too.

Pete Rose. This one feels obvious, right? Great player who had an off-the-field life that was, how do we put this? Disgraceful? Yeah, that’s the nicest way that we can put it. There are plenty of well known, public stories out there already. If you’ve read his book you know that he even gets into some of them. And then there are the stories you hear from people around the city that may just be stories, too.

Marge Schott. Another one that feels pretty obvious. She was a part time owner or a majority owner of the Cincinnati Reds from 1981 through her death in 2004, though she sold the controlling interest in the team to Carl Lindner in April of 1999. On the good side of the ledger was Schottzie and a 1990 World Series title. But the other side of the ledger was filled with homophobic and racist remarks.

Neither of those documentaries would exactly be fun ones. But they would likely be ones that had a lot to work with. Who are some of the people in the organization that would make for more non-controversial subjects of a documentary? I’ll offer up a few of mine with explanations.

Joe Nuxhall. What a story to tell. Youngest Major League player ever. Suited up for his hometown team for a large majority of his baseball playing career, was a 2-time All-Star, played in parts of 16 seasons, and then went on to become a legendary broadcaster for that same hometown team for 38 seasons.

Bob Howsam. You may know him as the architect of The Big Red Machine, taking over as the Reds General Manager in 1967 and remaining in the role through 1977. But he was so much more than that. Did you know he founded the Denver Broncos as a last resort after a failed attempt to get Major League Baseball in Denver and had a stadium ready to go? He was also an owner of a minor league team from 1947-1962. Later on in his life he served on the committee that finally did bring Major League Baseball to Colorado with the Rockies.

Powel Crosley Jr. This one, to me, would be far more interesting because of his life outside of sports. Crosley bought the Reds in 1934 and remained such until his death at age 74 in 1961. But he revolutionized how we consume the game, as the Reds were the first team in baseball to broadcast all of their games on the radio (he owned the station, too). On top of owning and operating the Reds and several radio stations (including 700 WLW), he was an entrepreneur of the highest level. He made automobiles, televisions, radios, snowmobiles, and even airplanes.

Those are my picks. What about you? Who do you think would make a great subject for a documentary who was involved in Cincinnati Reds history?

17 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    I haven’t seen The Last Dance either Doug. Not really all that interested to be honest. But there are loads of Reds players and personalities whose documentaries I’d watch. In addition to the compelling choices you give, I’d nominate Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench (the recent short show left me wanting way more detail), Eric Davis, Bernie Stowe, Lou Piniella, Marty Brenneman, Griffey Sr. And Jr., and Joey Votto. Though the latter would likely be heavily focused on his baseball narrative, preparation, etc. and not his personal life. But in a way Votto has helped change the way we look at hitting success, from Avg/HR/RBI to OBP/Slugging/OPS and all the OPS+ and WRC+ rate stats. Any of those and more would get me setting my DVR.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    I just finished watching ‘The English Game’, a miniseries about the origins of professional soccer in England in the 1870s. I couldn’t help but think about how wonderful a similar show about the origins of baseball would be. The 1869 Red Stockings would make for a compelling show.

  3. centerfield

    Frank George “Noodles” Hahn

  4. Jim Walker

    As already suggested, Frank Robinson, Bench, the Ol’ Lefthander.

    Joe Morgan has to be in there somewhere too doesn’t he?

    And the peoples’ choice for several generations, Tony Perez. He was often cited as among the very last major talents to get out of Cuba before Castro locked the island down. In addition he has also been called the glue who held the pieces of the BRM together. Think of this in the 1970’s, BRM “regular 8” was 3 Latinos, 3 AfroAmericans, and 2 guys most considered Caucasian but of one of which who also identified as significantly Native American. That had to take some power glue at times and make for some good stories.

    • GR

      Doug, Is there a possibility of you publishing an in-depth interview perhaps with some photography (or a series of interviews) with some the living individuals listed? Obviously, identifying and tracking down sources, and corroborating the information such sources for some of the deceased individuals would be more challenging.

      Ed Roush, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez would be my suggested additions to the growing list.

  5. Redsfan4life

    All lifelong Reds fan know pretty much everything there is to know about the great 8.
    I would like to know more about the pitching staff of the 70s and the many different extra men.
    Could call it the big red machine the other 17 players.

    • Jim Walker

      But what about all those fans who have come since the BRM. And there was so little true background stuff that came to light back in the day that the guys would probably talk about now. Tony just turned 78 several days ago. The days are dwindling to hear it straight from the guys who lived it.

  6. RedNat

    Dave Parker, the Cobra was one of the most fascinating players for me. he was only with the Reds a short time but that 1985 season was really amazing. when he was hot he was nearly impossible to get out. he was the ultimate showboat. may have been one of the most misunderstood and underrated players in history.

  7. Keith

    I had little interest in The Last Dance. However, I’d watch the heck out of any documentary that followed Sean Casey around. Guaranteed to be uplifting.

    The other one that might be interesting is Don Gullet. Growing up in KY as all-state in 3 sports, winning with Reds and Yankees in 70s and then going on to coach the Reds – I’d watch that.

  8. Mark

    Powell Crowley would be very interesting, to me, and/or the 39-40 Reds World Series teams (Ernie Lombardi, Johnny Vander Meer, Paul
    Derringer, Frank McCormick, Bucky Walters, and many other interesting characters).

  9. Grizz

    How about a documentary on the back-to-back world series championships of 75 and 76?

  10. John Reedy

    I believe the 1990 reds would makes a great story to see in a documentary

  11. SteveLV

    The history or the Reds revolves around the Big Red Machine with Bench, Rose, Perez, Morgan, but to add some additional entertainment value, I’d add Pedro Bourbon into the mix. He could play the Dennis Rodman role.

  12. TR

    Powell Crosley would also be my choice. He became the majority owner in 1934 and stabilized the Reds ownership after the trauma of the 1919 World Series and the ensuing court cases that extended into the 1920’s. Then in the late 1950’s, when the Dodgers and Giants moved to California, there were rumors the Reds might become the National League’s franchise in NYC. Crosley was a bulwark to keep ML baseball’s oldest franchise in Cincinnati. He brought a number of new things to baseball such as the first ML night game and broadcasting all Reds games on WLW, which Crosley owned, and in those days was the strongest frequency AM station in the U.S. and was known as the Nation’s Station. Crosley was an industrialist of the first order and mainly known around the country because the Red’s ball park was named for him.

  13. William Myers

    I would like to see a documentary on Ted Kluszewski. Kluszewski was a National League (NL) All-Star for four seasons. He had a .298 lifetime batting average, hitting over .300 seven times. In 1954, he was the NL Most Valuable Player (MVP) runner-up, hitting for a .326 average and leading the NL in home runs (49), RBI (141), and fielding average (.996). In 1959, Kluszewski was traded late in the season to the Chicago White Sox from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted .297 and did not commit any errors in 31 games for Chicago, which helped the “Go Go” White Sox to clinch the American League pennant that year. In 1962, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

  14. Jeff

    Willard Hershberger, whose number 5 was retired in 1940. Wild story.

  15. Steve Schoenbaechler

    You know something? Rather than a person, how about the stadiums? A documentary on all the places the Reds have played.