May 29, 1962
The rumor in Cincinnati in 1987 was that the Hall of Fame had already cast Eric Davis’ plaque. Davis intimidated pitchers both at the plate and on the basepaths. In 1986, he hit 27 homers while stealing 80 bases; in 1987 he fell three home runs shy of becoming the first 40/40 player in history. Injuries limited his playing time, and fickle Cincinnati fans turned on their brightest star. After the 1991 season, the Reds sent Davis to Los Angeles with Kip Gross for Tim Leary and John Wetteland. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Reds fans soon realized what they had lost. He returned to Cincinnati for one season in 1996 as a free agent, and continued playing through 2001. Eric the Red is now a “Special Assistant, Player Performance” for the Cincinnati franchise, and a very popular guest at fan functions such as Redsfest.
May 29, 1976
Jerry Hairston Jr. played much longer than I remembered—16 years in the major leagues. He was in Cincinnati in 2008 and part of 2009, hitting .287 with 14 homers and 63 RBI.
May 28, 1887
There are so many tall tales about football Hall of Famer Jim Thorpe, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. He only played part of one season in Cincinnati, appearing in 77 games for the Reds in 1917. He batted .247, hit four home runs and drove in 36 in that time.
May 28, 1910
One of the most devastating stories in major league history, Willard Hershberger took his own life in 1940. Failing to show up to the ballpark for a game against the Boston Bees, the team sent someone to check on him at the hotel. He had taken a razor to his throat. His uniform number 5 was retired for the remainder of the season and the Reds won the World Series in his honor, sharing a portion of the championship money with Hershberger’s mother.
May 28, 1953
Rafael Landestoy hung around the majors for eight years, but struggled mightily at the plate. From 1981-1984, he batted .153, .189, .159, and .185.
May 28, 1958
Bill Doran was a solid player for many years with the Houston Astros. I was surprised to find that he never made an All-Star team, despite receiving MVP consideration in 1985, 1986, and 1987. The Reds acquired Doran late in the 1990 season as they were wrapping up their wire-to-wire World Championship campaign.
(December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017)
Founding member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group, the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman passed away today from liver cancer.
(October 23, 1931 – May 26, 2017)
Nine-time All-Star and former United States Senator, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning passed away yesterday. He was the second pitcher to collect 100 victories and 1000 strikeouts in both the American and National Leagues, threw a perfect game, and one of just seven pitchers to throw a no-hitter for two different teams. In fifteen years on the Hall of Fame ballot, Bunning never received the necessary 75% support from the BBWAA. He fell four votes short in 1988, his twelfth year on the ballot. He was finally inducted in 1996 via the Veterans Committee.
A few years ago, Gary Cieradowski did a great piece on Bunning at The Infinite Baseball Card Set.
May 27, 1948
Gary Nolan was a big part of the Reds teams of the 1970s, winning 110 games for Cincinnati from 1967 through 1977 with a 3.02 ERA.