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View Full Version : The Reds in the 30's - it could be worse



redsmetz
08-22-2007, 10:21 AM
One caveat - I'm not a student of the team as many others here on RZ are - I encourage those with greater knowledge than me to correct anything I'm misstating or to clarify things I may not be clear on.

I've been reading the book Crosley, about Powel and Lewis Crosley and the business empire they built. It's an easy read, if not the best written book, but I've just arrived at the period when Sidney Weil left the Reds as GM and Larry MacPhail took over the team.

MacPhail had been successful running the Columbus, Ohio farm team for Branch Rickey, but he was fired following the 1932 season (according to the Crosley book). At that point, the Reds were broke and the bank hired MacPhail. The club was had just completed its second year in a row of finishing in last place and two more years in the cellar were to come. Yes, from 1931 thru 1934 we were dead last. One more last place finish came in
1937, MacPhail's last year as the Reds GM. Half of the 1930's were spent in last place.

The book mentions that the first thing MacPhail did upon taking over the club was to place the entire club on waivers to see what interest there was in the players. It stated several moves then were made. (MacPhail attempted that off season to hire Babe Ruth as the team's manager, but the Yankees wouldn't allow it).

That got me looking at baseball-reference.com at what transactions took place over the period. It's very interesting and a 1930's Red Zone would have screamed bloody murder as MacPhail began to construct a competitive Reds club and build its farm system. In 1934, Powel Crosley bought the club (the book seems to intimate that MacPhail sought Crosley out to free himself from having the bank overlooking his shoulder - I haven't read far enough to understand how this took place).

That said, of the moves I noticed, it wasn't surprising to me to see how many transactions were conducted with the Cardinals, since MacPhail had come from their system. Many of the transactions were trading away folks I'd never heard of, or sending off players nearing the end of their careers; releasing players, etc.

The first "name" move I noticed was trading Leo Durrocher and two other players to the Cards for Paul Derringer and two other Cards in May of 1933. Derringer proceeded to lose 25 games for the Reds that year, followed by 21 losses the next year. Oh my, the keyboards would be flying here on RZ over that move.

We signed free agent pitcher, Jack Quinn, then 49 years old - he went 0-1 before being released in July. The following year they took a flyer on 43 year old Dazzy Vance, nearing the end of his HOF career. He went 0-2.

That December they traded with Philly for veteran Mark Koenig, previously a player for the 1920's Yankees. He performed decently and was subsequently flipped the following year for SS Bill Myers. In November of 1934 we purchased the contracts of Ival Goodman and Lew Riggs. Riggs was a regular for the few years following and was a utility man for the 1939 and 1940 championship teams. Goodman had a good handful of good years for the club, leading the club in batting a couple of years.

The move that would make acquiring Branden Harris or Cody Ross and selling them pale in comparison would be the December, 1934 purchase of Johnny Mize from, again, the St. Louis Cardinals! We sold him back to the Cardinals the following April. He made his debut with the Cardinals in 1936 and went on to the Hall of Fame. The Reds, of course, would do similar transactions other times in later years as well. But, wow, can you imagine how a Redszone would have reacted to that?

This is just a sampling of the beginnings of the Reds club moving towards their championship seasons of 1939 and 1940. MacPhail left for Brooklyn in 1938 where he was ironically replaced by Branch Rickey after the 1942 season. Also of interest, at Brooklyn MacPhail replaced Bob Quinn, grandfather of later Reds' GM, Bob Quinn.

Just some thoughts on a Tuesday morning.

Johnny Footstool
08-22-2007, 10:31 AM
I picture a cross-wired telegraph service, with dozens of us tapping madly and spouting platitudes like "Let's drop a dime to the trouble boys and have them gashouse MacPhail stop"

westofyou
08-22-2007, 10:52 AM
That said, of the moves I noticed, it wasn't surprising to me to see how many transactions were conducted with the Cardinals, since MacPhail had come from their system.

Well, partly is that reason... MacPhail was considered a big spender and a bit of a rogue by Rickey. However Rickey received 10% of any player sale when he was the Cardinals GM and between 1920 and 1941 they never bought another player with cash, instead selling their surplus from the games first farm system. So they were wiling to sell players to the Reds through thoses tough times (Chick Hafey is a fine example)

The Cardinals had massive money problems in the 30's (like the Reds) they almost moved to Detroit and Toronto, but were able to survive on the money gained in player deals.

Heath
08-22-2007, 10:57 AM
The Cardinals had massive money problems in the 30's (like the Reds) they almost moved to Detroit and Toronto, but were able to survive on the money gained in player deals.

The 30's did a lot of almost-moves. The Reds were supposed to go to New York after Sid Weil lost his shirt. Somebody was looking at Washington.

cumberlandreds
08-22-2007, 11:26 AM
Considering the horrible economics of the 30's,it's amazing that no team moved or folded during these times. Many folks were barely surviving much less have money to attend a ballgame.

westofyou
08-22-2007, 11:49 AM
The 30's did a lot of almost-moves. The Reds were supposed to go to New York after Sid Weil lost his shirt. Somebody was looking at Washington.

Weil was a lot like Marge, even made money in the automobile business.

1. Obtained the team by buying the majority shares

2. Didn't really have the jack to run the team

3. Liked to be seen on the field (He even wore a uniform sometimes)

4. Had no farm system (Under Weil the Reds severed their Columbus connection, the only ML they had, which was later revived by MacPhail and the Cardinals)

5. Tenure proceeded a long run of disappointment on the field.

redsmetz
08-22-2007, 10:53 PM
Further in the book, as MacPhail and Crosley made their case for night baseball. They showed statistics that showed that in 1933 when they drew about 200,000 fans, 70% of them came to games for Opening Day, Sundays and Holidays.

Given permission for seven night games, those games drew on average 18,000 fans as opposed to about 5000 for day games.