The 1900s was not a good decade for the Reds. They finished the decade 705-769, they had only four winning seasons, and they never finished better then third (1904) in the National League. Most of the seasons they were fourth or worse, and in 1901 they finished dead last. The 1901 team had the worst pitching staff of any team in the decade as they finished with a 4.17 ERA.
One thing to note regards a player that was part of the Reds franchise, but never played for them until his final season. Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson was traded to the New York Giants in 1900 for Amos Rusie, who pitched in all of three games for Reds before retiring. Mathewson finished his career with a 373-188 record, and notched a career 2.13 ERA in his fine career. Ironically he’d be traded back to the Reds in his final season (1916) and he started one whole game for the Reds (he won despite giving up eight runs) before retiring.
Who were the best of this rather mediocre decade for the Reds? Let’s take a look.
Catcher – Admiral Schlei was the Reds primary catcher between 1904 and 1908. His best season was 1906. He only had a .245 average, but he was eighth in the league in Home Runs (4) and he set career high marks in RBIs (54) and slugging (.354).
First Base – Hall of Famer Jake Beckley played first base for the Reds from 1900 through 1903. He hit over .300 and had better then a .400 slugging percentage in all four of those seasons. 1900 was his best season. He put together a .341/.389/.434 season, scored 98 runs, and drove in 94. Beckley is ninth all time in being hit by a pitch (183) and is fourth all time in triples (243).
Second Base – Another Hall of Famer (as a manager though), switch hitter Miller Huggins played second base for the Reds from 1904 through 1909. In three of those seasons, Huggins finished in the top ten in the NL in OBP, and he led the league in walks in both 1905 and 1907. 1905 was Huggins best season. He finished third in the league with 117 runs and he finished second in the league by reaching base 264 times. Huggins led the Reds with 150 stolen bases during the 1900s.
Third Base – Harry Steinfeldt manned the hot corner for the Reds from 1900 through 1905. In 1903 he led the league with 32 doubles and he was fifth in the league with a .481 slugging percentage. Steinfeldt was a very versatile player because he put in time at all four infield positions and each of the three outfield spots while with the Reds.
Shortstop – Tommy Corcorcan wasn’t spectacular at the plate for the Reds, but he played shortstop for them from 1900-1906. He did have some nice seasons, but most of them were before he came over to the Reds. His best season during the 1900s was probably 1905 when he played in 151 games and had a 72 OPS+ with 85 RBIs. He did finish the decade leading the Reds in RBIs with 388.
Left Field – This was probably the toughest spot to fill because it was somewhat of a revolving door. I’ll give the nod to Hall of Famer Joe Kelley. He played for the Reds from 1902 through 1906, and like Huggins, had most of his best seasons before the came to Cincinnati. 1903 was his best season with the Reds. He hit .316/.402/.418, scored 85 times, and hit three homers. Kelley also managed the team from 1902 through 1905.
Centerfield – Cy Seymour was probably the best player of the decade for the Reds. He led the team in batting average (.322) during the 1900s, and he also tied Sam Crawford for homeruns (26) during the decade. 1905 was a career year for Seymour as he just fell short of winning the triple crown. He led the league in hitting (.377), RBIs (121) and just about every other offensive category from doubles and triples to OPS and hits. Ironically it was teammate Fred Odwell who cost him the triple crown as his nine homers was one better then Seymour’s eight. But check out this league leader board. He’s at or near the top in everything.
Right Field – Hall of Famer Wahoo Sam Crawford played for the Reds from 1900 through 1902 and even though that covers only three seasons, he was one of the best players in the National League in 1901 and 1902. In 1901, Crawford hit a then unheard of 16 homers for the Reds, and despite playing only a small portion of the decade, he was tied with Cy Seymour with 26 homers during the 1900s. Crawford is the all time leader in triples with 309.
The Reds lost Crawford in 1903. Prior to the unification of the two leagues, Crawford had signed contracts with both the Reds and the Detroit Tigers. Because he signed the contract with Detroit first he was awarded to the Tigers. It’s hard to believe what kind of team the Reds would have had if they had kept Christy Mathewson and not lost Crawford to Detroit.
Pitcher – Noodles Hahn was the best pitcher the Reds had in the first part of the decade. Hahn threw for the Reds through 1905 and he had four great seasons for the Reds during that time. 1901 was his best season. He led the league in strikeouts (239), innings (375 1/3) and K/BB ratio (3.46/1). Hahn’s career prematurely ended due to what was called “lame arm.” He was released by the Reds in 1905, and while he attempted a come back, he never recovered.
Pitcher – Bob Ewing led the Reds in Wins (108), ERA (2.36) and strikouts (884) during the 1900s. He threw from 1902 through 1909 for the Reds and was very solid in all of them. 1905 was his best season as he won 20 games for the only time in his career. He also finished fourth in strikeouts (164) and ninth in ERA+ (131).
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the Reds won a close game. They beat up on the other team in Ohio that’s struggling, the Indians. Aaron Harang had a career night. Nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. And by some miracle, the bullpen didn’t blow the lead. I mean, come on, they’ve blown six run leads, so a single run lead is never safe.
Future Hall of Famer Adam Dunn hit his now tied for the league leading 12th homer of the season. His OPS is still well above 1.000, so the I can live with the .264 batting average.
And since the Reds of old are much more interesting then the current version, I’m hoping to get my third installment of the All Decade Team series up by Monday. Work has been rough, so we’ll see.
The win put the Reds is a tie for last, so they’re moving up. Man the Astros have fallen. They’re down in the standings with us. And what’s up with the Pirates?? It’ll be interesting to see if the Cards have things pretty much locked up by the All Star break.
May 21, 1975 Reds 11, Mets 4 (21-20)
This team was called the Big Red Machine for a reason. Throughout the season, they put up run after run. It didn’t matter whether they faced a future Hall of Fame starter like Tom Seaver or not.
With a 3-0 lead, the Reds chased out Tom Seaver in the fifth inning by scoring three in the fourth and four in the fifth. Tony Perez homered and drove in four runs, while Dave Concepcion homered and drove in three. Pinch hitter Doug Flynn added three runs with a homer of his own, but by this point, the game was over with.
Jack Billingham was adequate and improved to 4-3. He gave up 10 hits and two runs over seven innings, while walking none.
May 20, 1975 Mets 6, Reds 2 (20-20)
With a quarter of the season finished, the Reds stood exactly at .500. They had pulled themselves into second place, but were five games back of the division leading Dodgers.
The Reds got smoked, again. It’s time to get more worried about the 100 loss mark then it probably is reaching the .500 mark.
Fortunately, this is the only Reds site you can go to, and read about a winner. The 1975 Reds are turning around their slow start, and you’re going to see quite a bit of winning from here on out. It’s a pleasant escape.
The 1996 Tigers hold the record for most homeruns given up in a season with 241. That’s 1.49 per game. With the three homers given up today, the Reds have 62 through 40 games. That’s 1.55 per game. We could be seeing history in the making. For those people who are counting, last year’s Reds had the fifth highest total ever with 236. Yes, that’s a mere five homers away from the record. So if the Reds stay on there current pace, they’ll shatter the two year mark.
May 18, 1975 Reds 6, Expos 1 (20-19)
The Reds ten game road trip came to a close. After winning the first two, they dropped the next six. With the win today, I’m sure Sparky was glad to walk away 4-6.
The Expos scored a run off of Gary Nolan in the first inning, but were completely shut down the rest of the game. He gave up a total of only four hits, and improved to 2-3 on the season.
May 17, 1975 Reds 5, Expos 3 (18-18)
In a back and forth game, the Reds took home the victory in extra innings. The Reds got on top with three runs in the fifth. The Expos then scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to tie the game at three a piece.
In the top of the tenth, Ken Griffey led off the inning with a solo homer. Two batters later, Johnny Bench followed this up with another solo shot. Reliever Will McEnaney got into trouble in the bottom of the tenth by loading the bases up with one out, but a strike out and a pop out later, and the game was over.
May 16, 1975 Expos 4, Reds 2 (18-19)
This was the low point of the 1975 Reds season. They were a game below .500 after thirty seven games, and they stood in third place, 5 1/2 games back of the division leading Dodgers. The fact that they started out so tepid, and ended up winning 108 games goes to show you how nice of a stretch this team had.
But they were on the short end of the stick on this one. With the Expos up 2-1, the game was still within reach, but the Expos scored two in the bottom of the eighth to put the game away.
The six game losing streak was the longest the Reds had in 1975.
At least they lowered their ERA.
The Reds haven’t won back to back games since their three game winning streak from April 16 through April 18. Since today’s the 15th, that’s almost an entire month without winning two games in a row. That’s also the last time they won a series.
The good thing is, guys like Griffey and Kearns are coming around. We just have to get a handle on our pitching.
They open up a series against the Mets, and they won’t be seeing Pedro. If you have an awesome memory, you’ll remember the Reds were actually 3-0 this season, and those three wins were aganst the Mets. Maybe it’s time to hop aboard the winning train again.
May 15, 1975 Phillies 6, Reds 3 (18-17)
Reds starter Don Gullett was cruising along, actually dominating the Phillies. Through eight innings, he had held the home team to two runs on four hits. In the bottom of the ninth, the wheels fell of the wagon.
Greg Luzinski led off with a walk. Dick Allen then reached base on an error by Cesar Geronimo to put runners at second and third. Mike Schmidt was given an intentional pass to load the bases before Bob Boone grounded into a double play to tie the game. Mike Anderson was walked intentionally, and then Phillies pinch hitter Ollie Brown hit a three run walk off homer to end the game.
May 15, 1975 Phillies 5, Reds 3 (18-18)
For the second time of the day, the Reds blew a lead and walked away with a loss. After taking a 2-1 lead in the fifth, the Phillies scored two in the sixth to take the lead for good. They added one run in the seventh, and one in the eighth to give Phillie reliever Tug McGraw some insurance.
Pete Rose was the hitting star. He went two for three, with a double and two RBIs.