All right. One more time. Let’s hear it for me for pacing these Sports Illustrated cover discussions with perfect timing so as to bring it home precisely in time for Opening Day. For this was all calmly and completely planned and not a frantic accident at all.

This is how it started.

This was when I first noticed that Johnny Bench endured much more than we thought on his way to greatness.

This was how the rest of America experienced the 1990 World Series.

This is all the times the Reds appeared on the cover of the Spring Training issue.

This is the obligatory Marge Schott post. 

This made me do math and I didn’t like it one bit. 

This one is my favorite because it has stirrups in it.

This is the obligatory Pete Rose post.

This is how SI tracked the rise, dominance, and fall of the Big Red Machine. 

Now we come to perhaps the most illuminating category of all: “I Don’t Know Where This Fits So I’ll Just Pretend It Doesn’t Exist So I Don’t Have to Make Actual Effort and Deal With It.”

Tom Seaver on July 27, 1981. This photo looks fake and posed but it’s Tom Seaver and the camera probably just manifests him like this even if he was mid-sneeze when the photo was taken.

Seaver had just played his role in Midnight Massacre, which sent him and him alone to Cincinnati. Off to New York went Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry. Seaver would leave a year after this cover appeared… back to New York. This man pitched until he was 42 and sat down with a 2.86 lifetime ERA.

May 26, 1997. Remember this? Sometimes people forget that this happened or haven’t even heard that it did.

But it did. It happened. And he retired a Red.

February 21, 2000: Between Junior and Tom Seaver, I guess I could have done a Trade Drama or Outlanders Joining Us Late post, but I’m committed now and you’re coming with me.

I cannot express to you how much of a kerfluffle this was at the time. You’d think we were past kerfulffles at this point in the team’s history, but no, we had more more good kerfluffle to throw.

There were four phases of the Ken Griffey Jr.’s career with the Reds:

  1. Did you hear we might get Junior? Could we really get Junior?
  3. Well… that didn’t go as planned.
  4. LEAVE JUNIOR ALONE. He was injured a lot.
  5. wait we’re still paying him?

The first two phases passed quickly; several years cranked by as the latter three unfolded. Then Junior and his father walked out of the corn at the Field of Dreams game which is all that’s really important here.


I may have missed one. I don’t think I did. But it sounds like something I would do. If you know of a Red on the cover of Sports Illustrated that doesn’t appear in this series, just let me know in the comments and I’ll ignore you because I am over this.

Happy Opening Day.



21 Responses

  1. LDS

    I was at the Seaver no-hitter, right on 3rd base. Before your time, but Howsam almost added Vida Blue. That’s how to run a ball team. Sadly, Kuhn the commissioner objected on the competitive grounds. Times sure have changed. The Reds have no one close to Howsam. And today’s commissioner doesn’t care squat about the game. A column on the new MLB rules would be low hanging fruit for an RLN writer. To me they erode the nostalgia and traditions of the game. I guess the internet generation is incapable of absorbing the nuances. Keep the columns flowing MBE. They are usually the least contentious posting of the RLN week.

    • greenmtred

      This is not contentious; it’s curiosity: to which of the new rules do you object? To my mind, the jury is out. They seem to have encouraged the re-emergence of base stealing and, by extension, small or, at least, smaller ball. They also seem to have reduced the ponderous length of most games. Games in my younger days–and yours–were generally under three hours long, I recall. Younger fans may not, as you suggest, have the attention span to savor the nuances of the game, or they may simply have moved on to other interests, but I suspect that the ubiquitous smart phone is a major culprit. You and I have had brief discussions about “A Christmas Carol,” so you will recognize this quote and its appropriateness: “…another idol has replaced me…” Belle speaking to Scrooge, but also the national pastime speaking to young fans who are too engrossed in their little screens to hear.

      • LDS

        In particular, I didn’t like the 3-batter rule when it was first announced. The bullpen rule change this year is even more egregious as is shortening the pitch clock again.

      • greenmtred

        I’m not a fan of the the three batter rule, either, though I can live with it because it clearly shortens the game.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I take that as a compliment 🙂 I fled politics several years ago because I didn’t want to add to all the contention. We have others doing that. I wasn’t necessary for it.

  2. Mark Moore

    As a kid, we lived in Northern NJ and the young Metropolitans were a favorite. Seaver was something of an idol for me. He’s among a handful of rare, timeless pitchers (whom I reference every once in a while) from an era long gone. Nobody will approach that level of innings per season, per game, per nothin’ ever again.

    Thanks for this wrap-up, MBE. It’s been a bittersweet journey for sure … but they remain our Queen City Redlegs.

  3. Oldtimer

    Seaver is the best RH pitcher of my lifetime (born 1951) and arguably among Top 3-5 pitchers ever.

    And he was a 10th round pick in the 1965 draft (where Johnny Bench was second round pick that year.) Not to mention Nolan Ryan who was 12th draft pick in 1965.

    • Oldtimer

      12th ROUND pick. RLN needs and edit feature.

    • greenmtred

      Who were the first rounders? The Gods on Olympus?

      • Oldtimer

        LOL. Reds 1st rounder was Bernie Carbo. The first catcher picked was Ray Fosse. Bench was 8th catcher picked in 1965.

        Most scouts saw Bench pitch for Binger, OK (not sure what the HS name was). The Reds scout saw him catch.

        Bench alternated at pitcher and catcher for his HS team.

        The Reds picked a SS named Mike Miley in 1971. In the second round, the Phillies picked Mike Schmidt and the Royals picked George Brett back-to-back. Miley went to LSU instead (as he told MLB teams he would).

    • greenmtred

      Weaver was great, certainly. Bob Gibson? I’d be hard-pressed to choose.

      • greenmtred

        Oh, God!.. Seaver. I meant Seaver.

      • LDS

        Gibson was probably more intimidating. Seaver lasted longer and probably edges Gibson out slightly on most statistics. Still a team couldn’t have gone wrong with either.

      • greenmtred

        Agree, LDS. Add Koufax and we’re on our way.

      • Oldtimer

        Seaver won 48% of his career starts and lost 32% of them. The other 20% were won or lost by a reliever. If you split it in half (guessing) his teams won 58% of his starts and lost 42% of them.

        Seaver lost 10 or more games in 11 (about half) of his MLB seasons.

        Seaver was utterly dominant his first 11 years with Mets. His 1985 season at age 40 with White Sox was incredible.

  4. Jerry Tracey

    To Greenmtred- I’m pretty sure in Bench’s case the first round pick was Bernie Carbo who also played for the Reds and the Red Sox.

  5. Melvin

    “Well… that didn’t go as planned.”

    No it didn’t. But it was still a smart trade that anyone in their right mind would have done. Griffey Jr. is one of the best players of all time. His body just broke down after all of those years on artificial turf in Seattle. The first year in Cincy was that way too and then the Reds try to correct it by putting grass on the field. Unfortunately it was too late.

      • Melvin

        Good question. Never thought of that although the fast surface is part of what made that team so great. The roster was kind of built for that.