Category Archives: baseball cards
February 23, 1961
Two players named Mike Smith pitched in the late 1980s. This Mike Smith made his debut with the Reds in 1984, and pitched 12 games for Cincinnati from 1984 through 1986, but he never appeared on a card for the big league team. He also appeared in games for the Expos in 1988 and the Pirates in 1990, and as far as I can ascertain, his only major league issue came in the 1990 Topps/O-Pee-Chee set (#552) as a member of the Pirates; this is not to be confused with the Orioles’ Mike Smith who appears on card #249.
But wait, there’s more. The second Mike Smith—who never played for the big league Reds—was drafted by the Reds in 1984 and spent a few years in Cincinnati’s farm system before Baltimore took him in the Rule 5 draft in 1988. Though both pitchers were in the Reds’ system, they never played for the same team at the same time.
But wait, there’s more. In 1989, Mike Smith and Mike Smith were a part of the Baltimore Orioles organization, and both spent time with the Rochester Red Wings. Both had Rochester cards in the 1989 CMC AAA and 1989 ProCards Minor League sets.
In the 1990s, both Mike Smiths continued pitching in independent leagues, and the “other” Mike Smith (the one who never pitched at the major league level for the Reds), even attempted a comeback with the Reds in 1995, appearing in three games for the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. He continued pitching for independent league teams through 2006.
February 22, 1934
The greatest manager in Reds history, Sparky Anderson skippered the club during the famous “Big Red Machine” era of the 1970s. The Reds won 863 games, four National League Pennants, and two World Championships with “Captain Hook” at the helm. Anderson joined the Detroit Tigers in 1979, and became the first manager to win a World Series in both leagues in 1984. Anderson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 along with one of his greatest clutch players with the Reds, Tony Perez.
February 21, 1943
The pitchers of the Big Red Machine don’t get a lot of attention, because they were overshadowed by Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, as well as other offensive standouts like Pete Rose and George Foster. But Jack Billingham was one of the best in the National League, winning 87 games for Cincinnati and finishing 4th and 6th in Cy Young Award voting in 1973 and 1974, respectively. Billingham was a part of the big deal that not only brought Morgan to the Reds, but also center fielder Cesar Geronimo before the 1972 season.
February 20, 1959
Bill Gullickson‘s best big league season according to WAR was 1986, when he pitched to a 15-12 record and 3.38 ERA. He was named Pitcher of the Month on the strength of his 5-2 record and minuscule 0.79 ERA. Gullickson spent the 1988 and 1989 seasons pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He said of those years, “The only English words I saw in Japan were Sony and Mitsubishi.”
February 19, 1935
Russ Nixon enjoyed a 12-year playing career with the Indians, Red Sox, and Twins. He began his managerial career in the lower levels of the Reds’ farm system in 1970, and worked his way up to a coaching job at the major league level under Sparky Anderson in 1976. He took the managerial position in 1982 after John McNamara was fired, but only stayed with Cincinnati through the end of the 1983 season. He went on to coach for the Expos, manage the Braves, and coach for the Mariners at the major league level. He also spent many years instructing minor leaguers. In all, Nixon spent 55 years as a player, coach, or manager in pro ball.
February 19, 1939
Jackie Moore, a coach for the 1990 World Champion Cincinnati Reds, only played a handful of games for the Tigers in 1965. He managed the Oakland A’s from 1984-1986, and was even named on some Manager of the Year ballots in 1985 despite a 5th place finish.
February 18, 1990
In his relatively short career, Didi Gregorius has already been involved in two three-team deals. First he went from the Reds to the Diamondbacks in a trade that brought Shin Soo Choo to Cincinnati from Cleveland. Two years later, the Diamondbacks shipped him to the Yankees while the Yankees sent Shane Greene to the Tigers. He has played well the past two seasons in New York, posting 2.8 WAR in 2015 and 3.1 in 2016.
February 17, 1930
Roger Craig pitched 12 seasons in the big leagues, including one year in Cincinnati, but he is best known to baseball fans of the 1980s as the manager of the San Francisco Giants. He never won the Manager of the Year award, but always seemed to be in the running for it. He finished second twice, third once, and fifth once.
February 17, 1976
Scott Williamson was the seventh Reds player to be named National League Rookie of the Year. His main competition in 1999 was Florida’s Preston Wilson and Pittsburgh’s Warren Morris. Other Reds who have won the award are Frank Robinson, Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Johnny Bench, Pat Zachry, and Chris Sabo.