Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Short Term Stops: The All-Reds Team


I think I would've liked the Reds a lot more had I grown up in the '70s.

I'm a huge fan of the Big Red Machine, despite the fact that I was born almost twenty years after they were at their peak. Rose, Bench, Morgan, Perez, & Co. has to be one of the best rosters ever assembled, and I imagine they were quite a treat to watch play ball.

These days, the Reds are another one of those teams who I don't much care about one way or the other. They've rarely been relevant during my baseball lifetime, and I don't think I've ever watched a full game the Reds have played against a team other than the Cubs.

With a franchise history dating back to the late 1860s, however, the Reds have quite a stable of Short Term Stops to choose from, so let's get started.



Pitchers

2009 Topps Update "Legends of the Game Updates" #LGU-3 Christy Mathewson 

"Short Term Stops" Reds Accolades:

Christy Mathewson (1916 Reds, 1 game, half-year stint, sunset season)

This roster begins with arguably the best pitcher in baseball history and a rare one-game wonder.

Christy Mathewson was, for a short time, property of the Reds before being traded to the Giants in 1900, never suiting up for Cincinnati. You probably know the rest: in 17 seasons with the Giants, Matty won 372 games with a 2.13 ERA, earning him a place among Cooperstown's first inductees in 1936.

What sometimes gets lost to history is the one game Mathewson pitched for the Reds, the last time he'd take the mound in his career. Acquired by the Reds for the purpose of managing the club, he came out of retirement for one last game, a specially constructed matchup on September 4th, 1916 in which he faced the Cubs' "Three Finger" Brown (also the final game of Brown's career).

Mathewson won the "duel" by a final score of 10-8, giving him the 373rd and final win of his career and cementing his spot on this roster.



1989 Topps Traded #116T Kent Tekulve

Kent Tekulve (1989 Reds, 37 games, sunset season)

I had no idea Teke was ever a Cincinnati Red before I acquired this card.

Though he'll forever look wrong in the jersey, Kent Tekulve was indeed a Red for 37 games in 1989, the final season of his career. It wasn't much of a finish, as Tekulve posted a 5.02 ERA in 52 innings that year.  

And thus the game of baseball entered its sad post-Teke era.



2012 Topps #89 Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis (2011 Reds, 13 games, sunset season)

I was a big fan of Dontrelle Willis back during his heyday with the Marlins.

Within his first three big-league seasons, Willis had an NL Rookie of the Year Award and two All-Star games under his belt to go along with that famous herky-jerky windup of his. Unfortunately, he was never quite able to recapture the magic of his early seasons and toiled in obscurity before joining the Reds for what would be his final season in 2011.

Like Teke and Matty before him, Willis's final season in Cincinnati wasn't much to write home about, as he went just 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts.

At least in my mind, however, the legend of Dontrelle Willis will live forever.



Catcher

1996 Score #126 Benito Santiago

Benito Santiago (1995, 2000 Reds, 170 games)

I don't have a better nominee for the catcher position than Benito Santiago -- who joined the Reds for a pair of single-season stints in 1995 and 2000 -- so here's a card of him petting Schottzie. 



First Base

1999 Black Diamond #23 Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko (1998 Reds, 26 games, half-year stint)

Some fans might remember when Paul Konerko was a highly-touted prospect with the Dodgers, but I'm sure most remember his legendary years on the South Side of Chicago.

Almost no one, however, remembers the brief time in which Konerko was a Cincinnati Red. Traded to the Reds in midseason in '98, Konerko finished up the year in Cincinnati hitting just .219 with three homers in 26 games. He'd be dealt to the White Sox that offseason for Mike Cameron.

Sixteen seasons, 432 homers, and one statue later, Paulie remains one of the more beloved sports figures in Chicago history.



Second Base

1989 Bowman #308 Manny Trillo

Manny Trillo (1989 Reds, 17 games, sunset season)

Manny Trillo was a solid middle infielder throughout the '70s and '80s before winding up in Cincinnati for his sunset season in 1989.

He'd be released by the Reds after hitting just .205 in 17 games with the club, though it was enough time, apparently, for Bowman to get him into their 1989 checklist and produce the only card I own of Trillo as a Red.

And that's about the only positive thing I can say about '89 Bowman.



Shortstop

1994 Conlon Collection #1164 Joe Tinker

Joe Tinker (1913 Reds, 110 games)

Let's take a ride in the way-back machine and revisit Joe Tinker's brief stint in Cincinnati. 

Part of the famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play combo as a Cub, Tinker served as player-manager during his lone season as a Red. Though he hit .310 in 110 games, the club finished with a woeful 64-89 record. Tinker would jump to the doomed Federal League for the next two seasons before finishing his career back with the Cubs in 1916.

Pre-War Short Term Stops can be a hassle to find, so much thanks to Charles Conlon for documenting Joe Tinker's quick stop as a Cincinnati Red.



Third Base

1998 Topps #240 Pete Rose Jr.

Pete Rose Jr. (1997 Reds, 11 games, sunset season)

Here's one of my favorite Topps cards of the '90s.

After having toiled in the minors since 1989, Pete Rose Jr. finally got his shot in the bigs as a late-season call-up with the Reds -- his father's old team -- in 1997. He went 2-for-14 in 16 plate appearances in Cincinnati before going back down to the minors at season's end, never to resurface in the Show.

Though this actually isn't his first appearance on a baseball card, it's the first (and only) major-league issue Rose Jr. would enjoy outside the spotlight of his father.



Outfield

1961 Fleer #77 Al Simmons

Al Simmons (1939 Reds, 9 games, half-year stint)

It's a miracle any card exists of Al Simmons as a Red in the first place, seeing as how his stint in Cincinnati lasted all of 21 at-bats (with three hits) in nine games in Cincinnati.

Though I enjoy them quite a bit anyways, Fleer's early all-legends sets often get extra points for featuring old-time guys in unfamiliar uniforms, something certainly taken to the extreme with HOFer Al Simmons here. 



2007 Upper Deck #630 Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton (2007 Reds, 90 games)

Josh Hamilton's story has been well-documented: a former can't-miss #1 pick who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction before eventually putting it all together and becoming a star more than a decade after he was drafted.

Hamilton became one of the faces of baseball for a few years with the Rangers, but he actually broke in with the Reds in 2007, eight years after being taken #1 overall by the Devil Rays in 1999. (Side note: Hamilton was dealt to the Reds by the Cubs after Chicago had taken him as a Rule 5 pick prior to the '07 season, yet another screw-up in hindsight by the Cubs' front office.)

After turning some heads with a .292-19-47 line in 90 games with the Reds, Hamilton was traded to the Rangers, and while he looks to be on the outs as a big leaguer here in 2017, I think most of us will look back on Hamilton's late-blooming stardom with joy.



2010 Topps Update #US-178 Jim Edmonds

Jim Edmonds (2010 Reds, 13 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

This roster ends with Jim Edmonds, yet another one-time star who dissolved into retirement after an unmemorable stint with the Reds.

After having spent the first 73 games of the 2010 season as a Brewer (a stint of which no cards exist), Edmonds was sent to Cincinnati in a late-season swap to provide some veteran leadership for a playoff-bound Reds club.

Edmonds would spend the final 13 games of his career as a Red, hitting the last three of his 393 lifetime homers in the process, one of which is (presumably) captured on this card from 2010 Topps Update.

Not a bad way to go out: a home run trot into the sunset.

That just about does it for this edition of Short Term Stops.

Thanks for tuning in.

9 comments:

Mark Hoyle said...

Well done Nick

Adam Sanders said...

Great job Nick! I've been looking forward to this for a long time and you definitely didn't disappoint.

Adam Sanders said...

Oh yeah, quick side note ... I was at Rose Jr's. debut game. I still have the ticket stub too ... Sept. 1, 1997 against the Royals.

Tony Burbs said...

These posts are my favorite recurring feature that you write - always fascinating and I always learn something new. For instance, I had no idea Al Simmons was ever a Red.

gcrl said...

Great post - I enjoy this series. One short termer whose term was so short they didn't finish spring training would be jack Morris (and almost rollie fingers)

Brian said...

Awesome stuff, love the deep dive to find Tinker.

shlabotnikreport said...

I ran across this while eating breakfast this morning, figured I'd save it for when I got home... and then read it anyway. Thanks for making me late(r) for work! :-)

BTW, I completely forgot about Tekulve and Edmonds playing with the Reds.

Adam Kaningher said...

I had no idea Konerko was ever a Red.

Rockies are up next!

Anonymous said...

@Adam Kiningher I do not think the Rockies are up next. Since it looks like he is going in alphabetical order the Red Sox would be next then the Rockies. Who I am looking forward to since they are my favorite team.