View Full Version : Most enjoyable Reds season of your lifetime?

07-14-2009, 04:00 PM
A lot of people will probably choose 1975 or 1976 or 1990 and rightfully so. Unfortunately, I was born in 1987 so I'm obviously too young to remember the 1990 World Series. I can only remember bits and pieces of the 1995 playoffs. I remember the Reds sweeping the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS and then I remember crying my eyes out when the Braves eliminated the Reds. My most vivid memory of that series is Javy Lopez hitting a home run down the left field line.

Another favorite time of mine was the first game I attended was a doubleheader against the Phillies in June of 1996. I was amazed at how beautiful and big the field was. I remember Willie Greene hitting a grand slam. I immediately became a fan of his, and Eric Davis and Barry Larkin too. I also loved the fist pump by Jeff Brantley after he saved the game. Other than that, I don't remember much from the 1996 or 1997 season. Most of my memories from the 1998 season are of the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa/Griffey Jr. home run chase. I do remember the Reds calling up Barry Larkin's younger brother Stephen late in the season and playing him at 1B, with Bret Boone at 2B, Barry Larkin at SS, and Aaron Boone at 3B, creating an all brother infield.

1999 is when I truly become a diehard Reds fan. I can remember the whole season as if it was yesterday. I'll never forget the 1999 Reds. No, they didn't make the postseason but they provided so many great moments that I'll never forget. The Pokey Reese walkoff HR against the Cardinals. The 24-12 win in Colorado. The 22-3 win in Philly where the Reds set a NL record by hitting nine homers in one game. The 10-game winning streak with all the wins coming against the DBacks and Astros. The Ron Villone one-hitter to outduel Randy Johnson. The grand slams by Boone and Taubensee in consecutive innings against the Expos while I was in attendance. Greg Vaughn hit three homers in a game at Wrigley. I can remember almost anything from that season. I'm still heartbroken that the Reds missed the playoffs. One more win. That's all they needed. There's on particular game that sticks in my mind. A game in Cleveland where the Reds led 9-4 after 6 1/2 innings and the bullpen blew it and sent the game into extra innings. The Reds retook a 10-9 lead in the 10th but Scott Williamson gave up a two out, two run walkoff HR to Omar Vizquel.

I still think that team would've won the NL pennant and possibly the World Series if they had made the playoffs. There was just something about that team. 1999 is still the most enjoyable Reds season of my lifetime and I'll never forget it. I can only hope I'll get to experience another season like that sometime soon.

07-14-2009, 04:12 PM
99. I graduated high school that year and also met my now wife.

Summer was perfect until Sullivan blew it. Well Graves blew his fair share before the fateful Brewers series.

07-14-2009, 04:35 PM
1990, my HS graduation year. I actually bet a math teacher the Reds would be in first place on the last day of school. He gave me an A for it.

07-14-2009, 04:39 PM
1995, 1998 and 1999. I took my wife to her first major league game in '95, Reds/Pirates. In '98 I held my one month old daughter in the Red seat as they again played the Pirates. Walk off win in the 9th or 10th. BTW, I live 1300 miles from Cincinnati, so seeing any game in person is a treat.

And just everything about the 99 season, meeting the people online that would eventually lead to Redszone.

07-14-2009, 04:40 PM
1990 - I was going to school at OU and living with two buddies who were also huge Reds fans. We made a pact at the beginning of the season that we were going to break Pedro Borbon's alleged curse against the Reds. Our method? We each carried a Pedro Borbon baseball card around in our wallets all year long thusly creating a "power triumvirate" which broke the curse and ultimately led the Reds to glorious victory that year. We were addicted to the Reds that year and as they were not very often on TV and weren't at the time on local radio in Athens we would struggle to get the best signal we could from WLW and listen to the Reds intently while we drank beers and waited to go out to the bars. Best Reds season ever.

Always Red
07-14-2009, 04:46 PM
That's an easy one for me- 1976. I know, how could anyone not enjoy those years? I was in high school, and 1975 was not exactly an enjoyable year- until the end (yes, even with the 108 regular season wins). I'll explain...

The Reds of spring training, 1975 were considered huge underachievers; they had great talent, but could never get over the hump. In 1970, they lost to a great Baltimore team that they could hit with, but could not pitch with- the Reds pitching was shot by the end of 1970. In 1972, the team had been retooled and looked great, but barely lost in the WS to the A's, who went on themselves to win 3 WS in a row.

The 1975 season was a nail biter for all who remember it, because of the past. The WS with the Red Sox was very tightly contested, and everyone was hoping against hope that the Reds wouldn't fade in the end, again. And then, when the series moved back to Boston for Game 6 and 7, it was delayed by rain for 3 days (I think). That was sheer agony! Of course, the good guys came out on top, and the Big Red Machine finally got over that hump and moved into the history books.

1976 on the other hand, was sheer delight. The Reds breezed to the NL West title and won both the NL Championships and World Series in sweeps, in convincing fashion.

Poz has a book coming out on the 1975 Reds season (and I am sure it will be great, as is everything he writes), but for me, 1976 was the season of dreams, the most enjoyable Reds season I have ever seen.

07-14-2009, 04:46 PM
I'm still waiting ;), be default I'd go with 2005 as I attended a bunch of games that year and had a nice time.

07-14-2009, 04:53 PM
1979-basically due to the overachieving and the tight pennant race with the Astros. The NLCS was a bummer, but winning the division was not in sight after firing Sparky, losing Pete, and aging Bench, Morgan and Concepcion versions, with all kinds of question marks on the pitching staff, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.

Chip R
07-14-2009, 04:55 PM
I'd have to say 1990. 75 and 76 were wonderful but those teams were built when I started following them. 1990 was a team of guys I followed as best I could from a distance thanks to the Sporting News and other newspapers not to mention WLW. Going through the lean years of 82-84 made it pretty special.

Reds Fanatic
07-14-2009, 04:58 PM
Definitely 1990. I was just a kid for the championships in the 70s so I really did not get into baseball until just after those years but 1990 was fantastic from start to finish. Like Chip said above for all us who suffered daily during those years in the 80s 1990 was really sweet for everyone who stuck it out.

07-14-2009, 04:59 PM
1970, 1975 and 1976. Even though they lost the series in 1970, it was my favorite. Crosley Field, the new Riverfront Stadium, the All-Star Game with Rose scoring the winning run. Bench was becoming a superstar. It was the year that I was 9 years old, collecting baseball cards and falling in love with the Reds.

07-14-2009, 05:01 PM
I can't decide between 1990 and 1999. 1990 had the result that every fan wants. In 1999, the end was disappointing but I attended many more games, so I feel a greater connection to that season.

07-14-2009, 05:10 PM
1990 - I made the trip from Ole Miss (getting my MBA) two weekends straight to watch the Reds vs. Pirates. The O'Neal throw, the Glenn Braggs catch in RF when everyone wondered why Lou took out O'Neal right before, Larkin doing his Ozzie backflip when the Reds won the game with the Pirates are all great memories. I will never forget listening to games that whole season and thinking that this was truly their year. Haven't felt that way since 1999. It too was just a really fun year. It's a shame that my boys don't have one of those years (in their memories) and they are both huge Reds fans. I get so tired of my youngest saying...The Reds will be really good in 20__. He is now saying 2010.

I get my face rubbed into Cardinals garbage all of the time here in my area. Just today I got three text messages from a client watching a parade in St. Louis today with Cardinals players in it. He sent me 3 pics...One of LaRussa with the caption, "Greatest Manager ever." I really want a year that I can gloat.

07-14-2009, 05:14 PM

07-14-2009, 05:26 PM
I barely remember 1975 and 1976 - but what I remember is a lot of magic.
Though much of the 1984 season was rather miserable, having Pete and Tony back, as well as a young Eric Davis made that season a lot of fun.
The anticipation of 4192 made the 1985 season a lot of fun, as well.
1990 seemed to come out of nowhere. 1989 was miserable, and the team was picked to go nowhere.
And finally, seeing Junior in his first year with the Reds in 2000 - along with all of the hope of the future, was a lot of fun.

Roy Tucker
07-14-2009, 05:27 PM
1970, 1975 and 1976. Even though they lost the series in 1970, it was my favorite. Crosley Field, the new Riverfront Stadium, the All-Star Game with Rose scoring the winning run. Bench was becoming a superstar. It was the year that I was 9 years old, collecting baseball cards and falling in love with the Reds.

I think I'd say 1970 as well. It was the year I graduated from HS, wandered through downtown Cinci saying "where's the new stadium" and then coming around a corner and going "whoa", went the All-Star Game, booed Richard Nixon and say Rose plow over Fosse, went to Ohio Univ. in the fall, and watched the WS from Sargent Hall.

I think it was because it was the year the Reds finally got over the top. They'd had promising teams since I started following them in 1964, but juuuussst couldn't get over the hump. In '70 they finally put it all together.

I think 1999 was my second. That team came out of nowhere.

07-14-2009, 05:31 PM
Realistically, probably 1976 or 1990, maybe 1990 because I shared that one with my own children. But part of me wants to say 1956, the most exciting year by a rookie and a new Red that I've ever been privileged to see: Robinson's 38 home runs.

07-14-2009, 05:35 PM
Tier 1
1990....no explanation necessary.

Tier 2
1999....Great year. Almost had it.
1995....Great year. Just couldn't get by a team of destiny (ATL).

Tier 3
1985....Pete Rose back (with Dave Parker joining)....good times.
1987....Eric Davis was a freak
1988....Eric Davis was a freak

Tier 4
1994....strike ruined it though

Tier 5
1979...first year I can remember caring. Cried when Buc's swept us in the NLCS.
1978...first game at Riverfront. W/L column did not matter to me.

Tier 6
1975, 1976...I was alive, but have no recollection. Just glad it happened in my lifetime.

07-14-2009, 05:37 PM
1990. Born in 78, so I missed out on the Machine and got into baseball and the Reds around 84 or 85. My uncle was convinced the Mets would go deeper into the season than the Reds did, and we put a fiver on it. Metsies didn't even make the playoffs and the Reds celebrated with the big trophy. Sweetest $5 I ever earned.

I enjoyed 1995 and 1999 too, but nothing compares to seeing your team emerge as the last team standing. At the very least, it's something I can say I've seen, which is more than fans of some teams can say.

07-14-2009, 06:14 PM
1970 -- heck the entire decade, 1990, 1999.

I'd tell you 1961 and 1962, but I'd be lying. Too young to know what was going on anyway. I loved those uniforms, though (61-62-63).

07-14-2009, 06:39 PM

1970 was wonderful, but losing that one and the subsequent close calls made finally getting over the top in 1975 all that much more sweet.

07-14-2009, 06:40 PM
1990. I was living in Boston and going to college. I lived down the street from Fenway Park. If the Sox had beaten the A's in the ALCS, it would've been the Reds and the Sox. I still have the SI with Sabo on the cover after they won the whole thing.

07-14-2009, 06:51 PM
I'm only 22, so 99 was by far the best for me.

07-14-2009, 07:15 PM
1990 is definately my favorite, but I really enjoyed the 1999 season. Eric Davis and Jose Rijo have always been two of my heroes because of 1990. I remember my teacher being a big Reds fan too, and we held a big party in our class with hot dogs and sodas while we watched game 7, which she taped and brought it. I got to see it happen twice. Those were great days.

07-14-2009, 07:41 PM
1976 - Domination

1990 - Magic + Luck

1979 - Dog Fight

1987 - Eric Davis

1999 - Surprise

1978 - End of an Era

1995 - Davey

07-14-2009, 07:53 PM
1970 -- 1st great team, last year in Crosley

1975 -- the best, what a Series

1976 -- consecration of BRM as an all-time great team

07-14-2009, 07:59 PM
1990---definitely. I was fortunate to make it to 25 + games coming down from Columbus and made every playoff and the first two WS games. Magical season, from the impromptu parade downtown after the NLCS clincher to hanging at Willie's in Kenwood with friends and watching the Redlegs come in after a game....

07-14-2009, 08:46 PM
I loved that 1970 team with Perez, Bench and May hitting all those homers. Even Rose, Tolan, Carbo, McRae and Whitfield got in on the act.

Wayne Simpson for half the year was outstanding, Sparky Anderson, Don Gullett and Dave Concepcion arrived on the scene and Wayne Granger and Clay Carroll started earning Sparky his Captain Hook nickname. The biggest downside was the pitching injuries that first claimed the great Jim Maloney and later Simpson, Merritt and a host of others. By series time, the Reds staff was way out classed.

07-14-2009, 08:49 PM
1999, wasn't old enough to remember 1990.

What really made 1999 special was after the season was over. I hated the disappointment of missing the playoffs, but the overall excitement of adding Ken Griffey Jr to the lineup and the possibilities that never came to pass. :(

07-14-2009, 09:01 PM
1990. I don't have a great memory, but I'll always remember sitting in my parents bedroom, watching the WS games on a tiny TV, and going nuts when Benzinger squeezed the final out.

07-14-2009, 09:13 PM
OBM, I can't add much more to what you've already said. That year, 1999, was so incredibly special. I followed the Reds before 1999, but I was a youngster and didn't know much. But 1999 was the year I fell in love.

George Anderson
07-14-2009, 11:30 PM
I was to young to really enjoy the 75' and 76' season.

1990 is the obvious answer.

1979 was fun though, I remember the Astros and Reds going neck and neck in the standings for what seemed like months.

07-15-2009, 06:26 AM
1975. I had been a Reds fan since 1966. I had followed the careers of virtually every member of the Reds since they had joined the team. Rose and Perez were already there, and then came Nolan and Bench in 1967, Carroll in 1968, Concepcion, Gullett, and Sparky in 1970, Foster in 1971, Geronimo, Morgan, and Billingham in 1972, Griffey in 1973--all those great players (and manager), and so many thrills linked to so much disappointment in the end. Finally in 1975 the greatest team in Reds history and possibly the greatest World Series ever. Yaz's flyball goes in Geronimo's glove for out three, "and this one belongs to the Reds!"
1967 was a good year, as the Reds contended until injuries crippled the team, and Perez emerged as a star, and All Star game MVP (back in the days when the NL always won the game).
The Reds became baseball's best hitting team in 1968 and Rose won his first batting title.
A good pennant race in 1969, the birth of the Big Red Machine nickname, and another batting crown for Pete.
102 wins, victory in the NLCS, a World Series, Bench's MVP year: The 1970 season was golden.
1972 was great--another MVP for JB and his clutch HR in the NLCS, the excitement of Morgan, but all washed away by a bitter World Series defeat. The loss in 1970 wasn't bitter, as the Orioles were the better team. Losing to the A's in '72 hurt.
1973: Hal King's HR, the great overtaking of LA, Rose's MVP year with third batting title, and the entertaining but ultimately unsuccessful NLCS gainst the Mets and their hoodlum fans.
All that lead to 1975.
1976 was great, a season of dominance all year, but a bit of melancholy at the end, with the hints that this was the peak and all would be downhill after that.
Foster's 52 HRs highlighted 1977.
Rose's 44 game hit streak highlighted 1978, but then he left, and Sparky was fired.
1979 brought a division but a loss in the NLCS.
Pete returned in 1984, got hit 4192 in 1985, and then threw it all away in 1989.
1990 was great, but by then I was older than most, perhaps all, of the players, so it wasn't as special for me as was 1975.
Larkin was a joy to watch, especially in 1995 (MVP) and 1996.
1999 was a great year.

07-15-2009, 08:49 AM

I moved to the Cincinnati area in August of 1990. I got to experience the World Series but wasn't a Reds' fan at the time so it didn't mean a lot to me at the time.

I remember the comebacks. I remember how the bullpen dominanted. I remember Scott Williamson's electric stuff. I remember Greg Vaugn's leadership. I remember Pokey and Gookie. I remember Juan Guzman. Unfortunately I remember the last weekend in Milwaukee. I remember Al Leiter.

07-15-2009, 09:09 AM
90 WS Champs. I was scheduled to go to a game when the Reds returned to Cincy. That never happened.

95 The Reds were legit that season. Seems like a lifetime ago.

94 I remember the strike was looming and the Reds were in first place. I would check the newspaper each morning to see if they still were in first place. I remember thinking when baseball resumes the Reds were going to the playoffs.

99 Was a magical season. They were a fun team to watch but they just didn't have the horses in the starting rotation to go anywhere. I remember watching that last series against Milwaukee sitting on pins and needles.

07-15-2009, 10:02 AM
I was around for the BRM, but too young to appreciate how special a team that was. I thought it would always be like that.

After the Pete debacle, 1990 was nice, but you knew that team had the talent to do it.

1999...that year was special. They just...."happened" and it ended in heartbreak which is how baseball seasons are supposed to end.

07-15-2009, 11:00 AM

After three absolutely miserable seasons at the bottom of the NL West, the Reds were finally back among the league's best teams, and names that were unrecognizable outside of Cincinnati were replaced by names like Pete Rose, Buddy Bell, Dave Parker, Tony Perez, Tom Browning, and Bo Diaz.

The Reds home run leaders in 1982, 1983, and 1984 had 17, 17, and 16 HR, respectively. But in 1985 Dave Parker was second in the league in HR, led the league in RBI, and was third in slugging. Rookie Tom Browning started the season 9-9 before winning his last 11 decisions of the year to go 20-9 and became the first rookie to win 20 games since 1954.

The Reds hung with the Dodgers until the final week or two of the season. The pennant-chase atmosphere was back to Riverfront and the great Reds-Dodgers rivalry of the 1970s was renewed.

The icing on the cake was 4192.

All of that meant that the franchise was back in the national headlines for the first time in quite a while. The pain of the 1981 strike fiasco lingered through '82, '83, and '84, because one of the most heartbreaking on-the-field-related events in franchise history (being left out of playoffs despite best record in MLB) was immediately followed with three of the darkest seasons in franchise history (at least within my lifetime up until that point). That all started to change when Pete returned in August 1984, but the 1985 season was confirmation that we could at least begin turn the page.

07-15-2009, 01:47 PM
This has been a fun thread to read. I love reading about the Reds history and some of the personal experiences from some of the older fans. Thanks for sharing, guys, and I hope there's more to come.

07-15-2009, 07:32 PM

1970 was wonderful, but losing that one and the subsequent close calls made finally getting over the top in 1975 all that much more sweet.

I figured it was '19 for you?

Many good years, 1990 certainly the tops for me.


07-15-2009, 09:42 PM
All these yoots who don't remember the Big Red Machine make me realize how lucky I am. I'd say the 1975 season. I especially remember trying to find the Reds-Pirates playoffs games in Portsmouth, Ohio. But I could also say the 1999 season, except for that cold wet night in Milwaukee and then dominated by the Mets' Al Leiter. There's something about that pennant race and the 10-game winning streak mentioned above that was special, ultra-scoreboard-watching, hanging on for the ride.

07-15-2009, 09:58 PM
1990. I started my senior year of highschool. Loved every minute of that season.

07-15-2009, 10:09 PM
1976 - Domination

1990 - Magic + Luck

1979 - Dog Fight

1987 - Eric Davis

1999 - Surprise

1978 - End of an Era

1995 - Davey

Great list.

1975 got an 800-lb. gorilla off the team's back. It was in danger of being the most disappointing team in baseball history until it won Game 7 against the Red Sox. 1976 was the surest thing I've ever seen in sports.

1985 was pretty cool with the Reds getting back to winning baseball and Rose breaking Cobb's record.

1999 had a ton of drama.

Yet 1990 was my favorite season. Wire-to-wire. Hal Morris grabbing the 1B job. Eric Davis coming to the rescue when the season seemed in jeopardy. Barry Larkin doing everything. Nasty Boys. Jose Rijo becoming an ace. Bill Doran coming over in a September trade. Eric Davis and Paul O'Neill uncorking two of the greatest throws ever seen in the NLCS. Putting away the Pirates (getting some payback for 1979). Stomping a mudhole in the A's (getting some payback for 1972).

07-15-2009, 10:20 PM
I guess 2004. I was born in 90 so I didn't get to see the World Series. I didn't really care for baseball in 99. But when the Reds got Griff in 2000 that was pretty exciting.

07-16-2009, 11:07 AM
I was alive for '75 & '76 but I don't really remember them so I'd have to say 1990. That was also my junior year in college and I turned 21 four days before Opening Day so it's easily one of my favorite years, for many reasons.

I loved that team; I remember the 9-0 start so from the beginning, it looked like the season had real potential and it didn't disappoint.

Also, I was the only one among my group of friends who was a Reds fan, which made it that much sweeter somehow when Benzinger caught the final out.

07-16-2009, 12:27 PM
75 and 76 were great because I was a kid who got to go to a bunch of home games with an uncle and because I did nothing but live the game as a budding knothole phenomenon. There was no better place to be than Cincinnati when the BRM was at it's peak.

As an adult I'd say that 99 was my favorite season. I worked downtown at the time and ended up going to many games on the spur of the moment with a friend who lived downtown . And that team was so different- they weren't dominant like the BRM or the 90 team. It was just a feel good season all around. Except for that last game, of course.

Ron Madden
07-19-2009, 02:47 AM
1970, 72, 75, 76, 90 and 99.

I can remember very little about the 1961 WS but I do remember watching some of it on TV with my older brothers.

07-19-2009, 09:29 AM
Hokie and WVRedsFan are about my only brothers in age I guess. All you youngsters. For me 1961. It was the year I began playing little league, I went to Crosley twice with my Grandma and three times with my Dad who regaled me with tales of the 39-40 Reds, and family fables going back to the early 1900s. Grandma told me for the first time that her first date with my Grandfather was at a Reds game in 1925. How her family, the Maddock clan had been in Cincinnati since 1840 and her grandfather Joe became a big Reds fan and was a player himself who barnstormed with a semi-pro team.

One game we had seats behind a pole and I stood and leaned against it watching the game, watching especially for Vada Pinson, my grandma's favorite. The shade under the deck was so cool that the field exploded in sunshine from those shadows, like looking from the dark through a big window into a well lit room. Crosley had smells, too, spilled beer and cigar and cigarette smoke that had soaked into the old wood, and the players wore uniforms that forever set my standard for what a uniform should look like - pinstripes, and stirrups, a bit baggy and loose the better to move, with real belts - still a decade from stretch knits and spandex - and a generation from un-bloused legs and chains dangling outside tops, and long wild hair cascading onto players shoulders.

I had hotdogs and snuck sips of Dad's and Gran's beers - followed by swigs of Coke to wash out the bitterness - and cheered like crazy and had my first imaginings of being down there on that field playing myself. Facing Burdette, or Friend or Bob Buhl and whacking one into the corner and running like Vada , fast as a flame follows a trail of gas around those bases and sliding safe into third.

At first, as the season started I was involved in my struggles to establish myself in my own right, on my Loveland little league team. The first fly ball hit to me, I still remember. It was a high pop just beyond 2nd and I was in Center. I ran and ran and ran and made it to the ball and pulled up, kind of flinched and the ball fell onto the ground right in front of me. Dad was my coach. He called me over. I expected to get a chewing. Instead he told me "Great job - that was a long run and you got there. Some wheels you got. Next time just stick your glove out and you'll catch it. Once you catch the first one Jake, you've got the makings of good centerfielder." He made me feel great and I never feared making a mistake again.

As the summer wore on into June the buzz was growing - the Reds were starting to win. Gran took me to the first game. We rode a bus to Crosley and some older guys made fun of me because I brought my glove. They didn't understand. I brought my glove everywhere. When we went to Albers my glove was in the car beside me. What was more natural than a glove to a ballgame?

After that first game I began following the team on the radio. Bedtime in the summer was 10 pm - when the day ending news came on. That was so long ago most of you won't remember, but after the nighttime news and Johnny Carson all that was on TV was a test screen until 6 am. Well, my bedtime was the nighttime news. When it came on I went to bed. And curled under the blankets with the old Philco portable radio tucked next to me and the volume low enough I hoped Mom and Dad couldn't hear and listened to Waite Hoyt. I loved rain delays. Waite Hoyt set another standard for me - forever setting the bar for a good announcer and that bar was high my friends. During rain delays Hoyt would tell stories of the guys he'd played with and against. Fellas by the name of Ruth and Gehrig, and Lazzeri, and of Reds like VanderMeer, and the incomparable Ewell "The Whip" Blackwell who Hoyt called the most unhittable pitcher he'd ever seen. I've never heard a rain delay storyteller who could come close to Waite Hoyt. He was a good game analyst, color man and play-by-play guy all in one.

Anyway, from June on, I rarely missed listening to a game. I got my first little league hit, my first homer - an inside the park, error at each base type of homer but hey - I had sprinted from 1 to 2 to 3 to home and wasn't out, and by our standards that was a homer. Little League games then were all day games - nobody had a field with lights at that level then. I tried to pitch like Bob Purkey one time and Joey Jay the next. Pete Rose was 4000 plus hits away in the future, Frank Robinson was the greatest all round player the Reds had ever had to that point (and possibly still to this day) and Eddie Kasko had taken over for McMillan at short, Jerry Lynch would come in late to pinch hit.

The Reds won the pennant! In 1960 they'd been mediocre, a shadow of the 50s hard hitting, poor pitching teams and over the winter put together a terrific staff for 1961 - no one expected it though because it took emerging young pitchers, and career years, but it was now in the books and the Reds faced the Bronx Bombers. I didn't get to go to any Series games, but I was thrilled with the Reds one lone win, and in the naivete of youth thought this was how a Reds season would always end.

I am almost always an optimist when it comes to the Reds - even in the face of statistical evidence that warn me otherwise. I always expect the career year, the emerging youngster to plug a hole, the aging vet to have one last good season left. Sometimes I think it's because of that 1961 season. My baseball awareness and love was birthed in the year of a surprise pennant, alongside my first amateur efforts at the game, and under the wing of my beloved Gran and my Dad who passed a bit of family heritage to me. Being Reds fans was a family tradition. It was the natural thing for us.

Now, almost 35 odd years after leaving Cincinnati, I still have the team - and the city - in my heart. Both hometown and hometown team. Guess when my time comes I'll have em ship me home and lay me down in Spring Grove, maybe in the veterans section on the sloping hill facing the Ohio River and the city, near my granddad, and Charles Gould, the first baseman for the 1869 team, and the Maddock clan. Where I can feel the ground trembling with the city's celebration every time the Reds win another pennant. Every year, right? Hope springs eternal.

07-19-2009, 10:33 AM
Awesome piece of writing, passion brings out the words and aligns them firmly to the subject in this case. Thanks for that.

07-19-2009, 10:38 AM
Agreed. :) Fabulous writing RedlegJake. Thanks for sharing.

07-19-2009, 11:37 AM
Jake, that was fantastic, thanks for taking the time to share.

07-19-2009, 12:06 PM

I now know there are at least two of us. Your word pictures about sitting under the deck and seeing the technicolor on the field was spot on. I didn't get to a game until 1962--money was tight in those days and even though my father worked for the railroad and we could ride the train to Cincy for free, 1961 was not a go. Things got better in 1962 and we went and I remember that same scenario. I couldn't believe the red on the uniforms. it reached out and grabbed your eye. Those were uniforms with character. The uniforms the team wears today are mostly white. Even the C on the uniforms is white outlined sparsely in red. Those uniforms in 1961 were simply unique and made the Reds special for a 10-year old.

Like you, I always think the Reds will find a way to put it together, that is until this year. I've lost most of my interest in the team. The fan base has been hoping for the "kids" to come up and make the team a winner for a long time. It hasn't happened and I've lost hope that it will. The interest will come back I'm sure, but in 1961 you had Robinson, Pinson, Post, Lynch, Freese--guys who could solidly hit the ball. I see no evidence, outside of Votto, of those kind of guys now. It's disappointing.

When I was in elementary school and junior high, sitting up with the lights out in my room with either the old Zenith down low or later when I got a newfangled transistor radio and earphones, I never missed a game. Mom always wondered why I was so sleepy when the Reds were on the west coast. Today, heading into my 6th decade, I can watch most every game, but usually only watch to check the score. It's a horrible attitude to take and back in 1961, I would never have dreamed it would happen. But I will always remember 1961 because it planted the seeds of what could be done and gave hope that it could happen again. That's why it's so much fun to try to remember back then. I miss those days a lot.

Blitz Dorsey
07-19-2009, 05:12 PM
Since I was born in '76, have to go with '90 no question.

But damn it would have been great to be a Reds fan in the Big Red Machine era. I'm jealous of you old cats.

07-19-2009, 05:36 PM

I now know there are at least two of us.

Make that "at least" three of us. Much older than you and Jake, I had attended my first Reds game at Crosley Field in '46, completed an active duty hitch in the U.S. Navy in '60, and had the good fortune to attend many home games of that '61 team in my "most enjoyable Reds season". Heck of a party on Fountain Square the night after they clinched, with lots of :beerme:

Won't bore the board with my recollections, particularly since my writing skills flop in comparison to both of you youngsters (those were GREAT posts). But, Joey Jay, Bob Purkey, Jim O'Toole, Waite Hoyt.......................whatta season.

Always Red
07-19-2009, 06:15 PM
Awesome piece of writing, passion brings out the words and aligns them firmly to the subject in this case. Thanks for that.

Jake, that was a great post.

I am younger than you, but I do remember going to Crosley in that late 60's (with my own dad and grandpa), and the smell of beer and (IBold) cigars (25 cents??) is just as you describe.

Thank you for the great memories! :thumbup:

07-19-2009, 08:00 PM
Jake, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking you may be a year or two older than me. With a December birthday, I was six through the entire '61 season. It shaped me into believing we were always a great team. The fact is the 1962 team won more games than the previous year, but finished third and I had forgotten the nail biting finish to the 1964 season until recent years.

My first game was with a neighbor kid, my younger brother and the kids' dad. We sat in the second deck of Crosley along the first base line.

My later game experiences were going with a priest our family knew; he'd take a group of us. He was somehow related to the Joseph Chevrolet family and he'd get their tickets. For those of you who grew up in Catholic schools here in Cincy, you might remember a column titled "Ask Fr. Jim" or something like that. That's who this priest was. He'd taught my dad when he had been a student at Elder. We'd go to a couple of games a season with Fr. Jim.

My memories are sketchy, but I recall the Reds Hall of Fame plaques being up under the 1st level seats. Does that sound right? I was always fascinated by those and the other memorabilia that I think was up.

By the time Crosley closed, my oldest brother had his license so he drove me and the brother between us to the final game at Crosley against the Giants. My next younger brother went to the next game at Riverfront (probably with Fr. Jim again). My first game at Riverfront was the All Star game. My folks were going, but then dad got asked to sit in the blue seats. Mom gave me and my late brother Jim the other tickets and said, "they're probably at the top". She was right. I think others have said this elsewhere here over the years; it was thrilling to walk in and see the field, this vivid electric green modern field. It took your breath away. I know that may be hard to believe given how it looked over the years.

My brothers and I started a tradition of the family going down to Opening Day as we became adults. It's a tradition I've tried to continue, with few interruptions, including help from one RZ'er a few years ago. And my kids look forward to it every year. My oldest daughter is moving away in September and I'll miss going to Opening Day with her. Her first game was a business day special when she was just weeks old. It went into extra innings and then a rain delay with a runner on second for us. Thank goodness my wife could feed her during the long time! Game resumed, batter hit the 1st pitch into the gap and the Reds one. Not a bad start to a life of fandom!

07-19-2009, 08:50 PM
Definitely the 1990 season. Starting off 7-0, timely hitting, good starting pitching and incredible bullpen work by the Nasty boys, along with the amazing NLCS, and the fantastic World Series. That's easily the best season.

I was 19-20 at the time.

07-19-2009, 10:07 PM
Jake, it looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree in your family. Beautiful stuff.


Roy Tucker
07-20-2009, 12:01 PM
Jake, it looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree in your family. Beautiful stuff.


Exact same words that came to my mind.

:thumbup: :beerme:

07-20-2009, 12:28 PM
It has to be 1990 for obvious reasons, but damn if I didn't live and die with that 1999 club. I went to my first Opening Day that year (I still can't believe it took me so long), was there when Pokey hit that homer, saw almost every home start Villone made (seriously...Ron Villone?), all of those comebacks and late night celebrations with the neighbor guy after every win (we had adjoining porches, so we'd grill out and yell back and forth when good or bad stuff happened), and Sean Casey breaking his bat after being struck out again by Al Leiter.

I don't think I ever invested as much emotion in one season before or since. There was just something really cool about that whole team.

07-20-2009, 12:43 PM
RedlegJake, that was an amazing post. Jim Brosnan's book Pennant Race made me want to go back in time and watch that '61 team; your post made me ache for it. Fantastic.

07-20-2009, 01:17 PM
1990 was my favorite season, but I didn't get to watch them like I do now. I enjoy baseball more now than ever. Watching the Reds is very frustrating.

07-21-2009, 09:42 AM
1976 and 1990. I remember '90 better but '76 was pure magic because I was only 7 years old and the players were so larger than life back then.

07-21-2009, 10:23 AM
1975 for me. It was the culmination of the BRM after some years of getting "Oh so close."
The year started slowly but not many games after Rose was inserted at 3rd base and Foster began playing everyday the Reds took off and never looked back. This was the first season that my family had cable TV. We got a station from Lexington Kentucky that carried Reds games from their network,about 50 game,IIRC. Before cable we only got three stations from Tennessee and none carried Reds games. So the only time I saw them play was when they were on the Game of the Week or in person,which was only once a season. I listened every night when they weren't on TV. WSGS from Hazard Kentucky carried all their games. Many nights I listened to the entire pre-game shows,The Main Spark and Joe's Nuxhalls interviews with a player, to the post game Star of the Game and scoreboard show. The Reds got on a roll in the middle of the season in which they won something like 45 out of 55 games. They just blew the division away. They had the earliest clinched pennant at the time. It was around September 10th when they clinched. It just seemed to me like destiny they would win it all. They blew away the Pirates in the playoffs but came upon a stubborn Red Sox team. In the 7th game I thought they a had blown the season when they were down 3-0 going to the 6th inning. I can remember feeling very down about that time. They let game 6 get away and it looked like the world championship with it. But with one swing of the bat by Perez everything changed. It seemed like destiny returned and the Reds would come back. As we all know they did come back and capped off a near perfect season for this life long Reds fan.
I will say a close number 2 is the 1990 season. In March of 1990 I moved to the DC area. I knew no one up here. Everything was strange and odd to this mountain boy now living in the big city. I worked early hours,leaving my apartment around 6:30 am. Early in the season I started turning on WLW every morining to see how the Reds did the night before. After a while it became a habit and it was fun following that team all season. I even got to go to see them play the Phillies later that season up in The City of Brotherly Love. It was just a magical season and being able to turn on WLW each morning helped ease the pain of loneliness I was having by living in a strange new area.

07-21-2009, 10:55 AM
The Main Spark and Joe's Nuxhalls interviews with a player,

The "Turf-Side Show." Great memories!

07-21-2009, 10:57 AM
The "Turf-Side Show." Great memories!

Thanks! I could not remember the name of that show. Yes, those are good memories.

07-21-2009, 11:34 AM
I am going to go off-menu here. Bear with me.

I think an answer like this is personal, and a lot depends on the age you are as the year that you look back on fondly occurred. I was five and six in '75 and '76, too young to appreciate what was going down. I remember 1979 with fondness of course, and 1981 will always be bitter for the what was taken away from this 11-year-old by the strike and split season shenanigans.

1990 was great, but I was in college, and didn't live and die with the team each and every day quite like you do when college pursuits are not clouding the picture.

So, for me, my sweet spot occurred in high school, my senior year, 1988. At the outset, they did not win the division. The evil LA Dodgers and the even more evil Orel Hershiser denied them that. But what you did have was a team built around pitching and really good young talent, the nucleus of which brought them the title two years later. And I will always remember the joy of watching that coursing of talent break into the big leagues for the team I cared about the most.

The 1988 OF? Paul O'Neill, Eric Davis, Kal Daniels. Young and talented, all the way across. For Davis, injuries were starting to mount, and he still put up a 26 HR 35 SB season, and was still able to play with the ridiculous outsized talent that made him the most exciting ballplayer I have ever seen. Kal Daniels was a young hitting machine, and O'Neill's talent was unmistakeable.

On the left side of the IF, the young Chris Sabo and Barry Larkin. Larkin was in the process of establishing himself as one of the best in baseball, and unleashed a 12 HR 40 SB season that year. First base was split between Griffey Sr. and Nick Esasky. Esasky was a holdover favorite of mine from the mid-80s,and Sr. was, well, Sr. A reminder of the glorious recent past. Bo Diaz was the catcher.

Across the board, a likeable and exciting collection of talent who could hit, run, and field. Hard to underestimate just how exciting they were to watch play ball. Youth and talent can really jolt a franchise.

As for the pitching, Danny Jackson arrived from KC throwing bolts. 23 wins. Add in Tom Browning's breakthrough season, 18 wins, and Dennis Rasmussen of all people being good, 16 wins, and it was a surprisingly solid top three. What made that rotation though was the in-season maturation of Jose Rijo. 13 wins, 162 IP, and 160 Ks, he along with Browning gave more than just a hint that the Reds had finally found a core to build around at starting pitcher. Two years later, that came to fruition.

In the bullpen? Rob Dibble arrived, and joined Norm Charleton in previewing what was to become the Nasty Boys. 59 Ks in 59 innings for Dibble in 37 games. 1.82 ERA. It was glorious to watch him wind up to throw a fastball. Never seen anything like it.

A bonus, as it turned out, was that was the last year with the pre-scandal Pete. I spent a care-free summer, after graduating high school, waiting tables, listening to Reds games, and getting ready for college. The team was young, talented, and a joy to follow.

They won 87 games. 1989, in my mind, never happened, and then we get to 1990, when the guts of that 1988 team came into their own.

But, for me, the joy of discovery, if you will, with the '88 team is unmatched in my lifetime. So many young players, learning that you could really trust their talent as a fan, spending the year post-Stillwell/Larkin realizing the Reds chose VERY well, spending the year learning that O'Neill had a gun in RF, that the Dibble kid threw seeds, that the Rijo kid had a killer slider. Spending the summer grooving on Danny Jackson, as hot as I have ever seen a Reds pitcher, mowing batters down, learning that Tom Browning could control games even though he was far from over-powering, reveling in what Grifffey Sr. still had in the tank, and mostly, that he was wearing the Cincy "C" again.

Like I said, 87 wins. Not near enough, in the end, as the Dodgers were at 94 wins, and eventually the WS behind the Gibson miracle HR and Orel Hershiser's brilliance. But, still, as enjoyable an in-season campaign as I have ever follwed, given where I was in my life and who was on that team. I just went back and looked at the final standings, and if there had been a WC in 1988, the Reds would have had it. And with that rotation, yaneverknow...

I cross my fingers, at the age of 39, and hope to have another year of following the team close to that before my time is someday up.