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View Full Version : Dipping into the Vault - 1957 Redlegs Season Preview



westofyou
12-11-2008, 05:54 PM
http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1132415/index.htm

April 15, 1957

Cincinnati Redlegs


The personable, colorful, lively Redlegs are the most popular ball club in the National League. Last season strong hitting, brilliant fielding, shrewd managing and an astute front office combined to lift them to third place after 11 dismal years buried in the second division. Now they have their eyes on the pennant


THE MANAGEMENT

Shrewd, genial Gabe Paul is the soundest front office man in the league, if not in all baseball. One of his best moves was hiring as manager talented, talkative Birdie Tebbetts, who combines natural genius for good public relations with tough, analytical baseball mind. James J. Dykes, the humorist, is Birdie's third-base coach and assistant professor of philosophy. Likable Frank McCormick handles first base chores, and quiet, hard-working Tom Ferrick does wonders with the weak Cincinnati pitching staff.

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S REDLEGS

STRONG POINTS

Birdie Tebbetts likes to protest that Redleg hitting isn't as powerful as it looks, but try to get one of his sluggers away from him in a trade and his red face turns pale. This is a club built presently on two things: big bats and sure gloves. Four Redlegs—Ted Kluszewski, Wally Post, Gus Bell and Ed Bailey—hit more home runs last season than the entire St. Louis Cardinal squad, even though Cards led league in team batting average. And this muscular quartet doesn't even include the great rookie Frank Robinson, whose 38 homers were high for Cincinnati. Perhaps this explains why club scored nearly 100 runs more than Cardinals in 1956 and led league in that important item. Redlegs are not flat-footed muscle-bound sluggers (though some cynics look doubtfully upon massive Ted Kluszewski). Post and Bell are very good fielding outfielders and Robinson seems to be developing into an extraordinary one. Bailey is an excellent catcher. Klu is immobile at first, but usually sure-handed when he gets near a ball. Nonslugging members—Shortstop Roy McMillan, Second Baseman Johnny Temple and either Don Hoak or Alex Grammas at third—are masters of their trade, which is primarily fielding of baseballs. Scrawny, bespectacled McMillan is by far the greatest fielding shortstop in game today, and this is said with full knowledge of the skills of such as Luis Aparicio, Gil McDougald, Pee Wee Reese and Willie Miranda.

WEAK SPOTS

With characteristic forensic maneuverability, Tebbetts praises his poor pitching while finding fault with his great hitting. This may be part of a massive scheme to hypnotize his in-and-outers into believing that any one of them could throw a baseball through a concrete wall. It may work at that, because Redleg pitchers turned in some surprising figures for such a mediocre group. Best of them (Joe Nuxhall) was lowly 17th in earned run averages among starting pitchers, and staff as a group allowed three runs or more per game more often than any other pitching staff in league. But they seldom let a game fall completely apart; despite their bandbox home park, Crosley Field, Birdie's pitchers gave up fewer home runs than any staff except Milwaukee's gilt-edged crew. A great deal of credit for this goes to tremendously effective relief pitching of Hershell Freeman (14-5, even though he didn't start a game). Hersh allowed home runs at the rate of one every 55 innings (for comparison, Robin Roberts allowed one every six innings). Keeping enemy's score to a moderate, if not modest, total gave the cocky Cincinnati sluggers an incentive to unleash their huge bats and catch up. Nevertheless, neither Nuxhall nor Johnny Klippstein nor Art Fowler nor even 19-game-winner Brooks Lawrence has proved to be a real stopper on the pitching staff, which is a most serious weakness in a team with pennant ambitions.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES

Don Hoak, an abject failure with Cubs last year, has been a joy in spring training and may beat out Grammas for third base. Another ex-Cub, Warren Hacker, has been working on a sidearm delivery that Tebbetts hopes will revive Warren as starting pitcher. There is good rookie crop, but Redlegs aren't rushing them.

THE BIG IFS

Since slugging is still the key to Cincinnati success, major worry is Ted Kluszewski's ailing hip—because Big Klu remains the big man on this team. Last season, having a "bad" year, he was their best in batting percentage and runs batted in. Unless a brilliant starting pitcher rises out of nowhere, the Redlegs simply must have a healthy Kluszewski.

OUTLOOK

Paul and Tebbetts were more surprised than the fans when the Redlegs finished a scant two games behind pennant-winning Dodgers last year. They were elated, naturally, but now this year—with more and more enthusiasts jumping on Cincinnati bandwagon—they are growing apprehensive. Club is still building for future: pitching must be developed, bright minor leaguers carefully nurtured, soft spots in lineup and bench strengthened. Gabe and Birdie will not be elated by repeat of last year's record, but they'll be plenty satisfied.

SPECTATOR'S GUIDE

Cincinnati wants a new ball park, but until one comes along will have to put up with Crosley Field, smallest in majors. Partly because of size, however, there are really no bad seats; only sun area is in Sun Deck bleachers (called Moon Deck for night games). Ticket prices are below average ($2.50 box, $2 reserved seat) and ushers are efficient and polite, expect only moderate tip. Refreshment stands are adequate, prices reasonable, food good.

There are problems, however. Rest rooms, although clean, are frequently overcrowded on big days. The streets leading to the park are narrow and crowded with parked cars. There just aren't adequate parking facilities for any sort of crowd. For out-of-towners, however, park is within easy walking distance of Union Terminal. (The Redlegs get more out-of-town spectators than any other major league club.) The best and easiest way to go to a game is by special buses called Baseball Arrows. They run from specified places downtown and cost 70¢ round trip.

Improvements this year include an extensive repainting of park, better lights and colossal new scoreboard. New board will be 55 feet high and 65 feet wide and is designed so that it will be visible from any seat in park. A feature will be the flashing of a player's batting average as of that morning each time he goes to bat.



NATIONAL LEAGUE
TEAM W L PCT GB
Braves 95 59 .617 -
Cardinals 87 67 .565 8
Dodgers 84 70 .545 11
Reds 80 74 .519 15
Phillies 77 77 .500 18
Giants 69 85 .448 26
Pirates 62 92 .403 33
Cubs 62 92 .403 33

lollipopcurve
12-11-2008, 06:57 PM
Man that's good stuff.


With characteristic forensic maneuverability, Tebbetts praises his poor pitching while finding fault with his great hitting.

Love it.


The personable, colorful, lively Redlegs are the most popular ball club in the National League.

Talk about an opening line.

chicoruiz
12-11-2008, 07:17 PM
You have to love a season preview that thinks it important enough to mention the first-base coach.

HokieRed
12-11-2008, 09:10 PM
What an outfield that was. Robinson-Bell-Post. And then a couple of years later Pinson. I remember them all very well.

Matt700wlw
12-11-2008, 10:24 PM
My mom was 2....my dad was 4 :D

Bob Borkowski
12-11-2008, 10:27 PM
My mom was 2....my dad was 4 :D

Braggin' or complainin'? ;)

Matt700wlw
12-11-2008, 10:42 PM
Braggin' or complainin'? ;)

Those would have been some players to see, so I'm not sure. My step-dad was 13, so he's told me some cool stories about watching the Reds back then. He thought Big Klu was like a God. :)

cumberlandreds
12-12-2008, 08:07 AM
Which seat should I buy? The $2.50 box or the $2 reserved? Oh what the heck I'll splurge buy the $2.50 box. :cool:

Roy Tucker
12-12-2008, 08:59 AM
I wonder if there were a lot of people that made that Union Terminal to Crosley Field stroll? Sounds like a good start to a baseball day.

Were there any restaurants and bars in the immediate Crosley area? I don't remember any, but I came along later in the mid-60's and a lot of the surrounding buildings had been torn down for parking.

HokieRed
12-12-2008, 12:34 PM
As I remember the area around Crosley, it was mostly industrial and neighborhood. There wasn't any of the surrounding stuff we now think of as being around ballparks. But the whole economic climate was different anyway. People didn't think of spending the same kind of bucks on baseball (even inflation adjusted) as an "experience" as they have come to in recent years. (Whether this can be sustained through the coming recession or depression will be very interesting to see.) People went to the game, ate some hot dogs, brats, or metts, and got a couple beers, maybe, from the vendors--35 cents for one of the four Cinti. brands (in the 50's anyway): Hudepohl, Burger, Wiedemann, Schoenling. One of the amazing things to me in retrospect is that for years the games began at 8:08, an unthinkably late hour today. It could easily be midnight by the time you'd get home and then lots of people had to be at work the next morning at 7. I remember one time being at Crosley for 13 or 14 hours during a long doubleheader with the Phillies when both of the games were rain-delayed and high scoring.

Chip R
12-12-2008, 12:53 PM
The 1956 team was the first Cincinnati team to draw 1M fans.

BoydsOfSummer
12-12-2008, 09:48 PM
My Pops was 21.Was talking to him about it today. He was a big fan of that outfield, natch. My Uncle loved Vada Pinson when he came along.
I have a DMB replay of the '58 season going off and on.

WVRedsFan
12-13-2008, 12:09 AM
I wonder if there were a lot of people that made that Union Terminal to Crosley Field stroll? Sounds like a good start to a baseball day.

Were there any restaurants and bars in the immediate Crosley area? I don't remember any, but I came along later in the mid-60's and a lot of the surrounding buildings had been torn down for parking.

We did it many times--in daylight :). Dad was a railroader, so we got free passes on the train. We'd leave the station at Prince, WV at 7:00 AM and arrive in Cincinnati about 3:00. From there we would walk to the stadium. That article about the narrow streets and no parking were pretty accurate. We'd be at the park by 5:00 (we had to eat at, I think, Frisch's) and wait for the gates to open. One time we got in somehow and still had our tickets, untorn, in our hands when we went to our seats. It really confused the usher, but we were privy to a conversation between Don Pavletich (sp?) and a reporter about how bad the press treated Robby. I think I've told this one before :). My first game at Crosley was 1962 when I was a child, but I always wondered why they didn't revamp the place. It was a wonderful place to play baseball, but the neighborhood deteriorated to the point that they had to do something. When they built Riverfront, it lacked the character of Crosley and today's GABP is better, but not quite Crosley.