Dan Driessen, a Cincinnati immortal
When the words “Cincinnati Reds legend” are uttered, the mind usually turns to one of the all-time baseball greats that played for the team, such as Johnny Bench or Joe Morgan or Pete Rose. But as the true Reds fan knows, there are several other players that impacted the team in a positive way and have thus been inducted into the team’s local Hall of Fame. Ken Griffey, George Foster, Chris Sabo, and Jose Rijo are but a few of those players.
This past week, Dan Driessen was added to that roster of Cincinnati immortals that will forever be remembered as an important part of the Reds organization.
Driessen broke into the big leagues in 1973 and made an immediate impact, batting .301 and tying for third place in Rookie of the Year voting (behind Gary Matthews and Steve Rogers, tied with Bob Boone and Elias Sosa). In 1974 he became the regular third baseman for the team and finished the season with a respectable .281 batting average. However, with the emergence of Foster as an offensive threat, Rose was moved from the outfield to third base and Driessen found himself playing a utility role and giving the other players a rest in the World Championship years.
Following the 1976 season, Tony Perez was traded to Montreal, making room for Driessen to become the starting first baseman for the better part of the next seven-and-a-half seasons. During his twelve years of service to the Queen City, he collected 1,277 hits, 240 doubles, and posted a .271/.361/.416 line with a 115 OPS+. He led the National League in bases on balls in 1980.
Driessen’s tenure in Cincinnati ended in 1984 when he, like Perez before him, was traded to Montreal.