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?