May 21, 1906
Hank Johnson went 14-9 for the Yankees in 1928, but was left off their postseason roster. Only three pitchers appeared in the ’28 World Series for the Yanks: Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt, American League wins leader George Pipgras, and late-season pickup Tom Zachary. Johnson later played for the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Athletics before wrapping up his career in 1939 with the Reds.
May 21, 1955
Another former Red that struggled with substance abuse, Eddie Milner passed away in 2015. Never an All-Star, but a fan favorite in the 1980s.
May 21, 1981
His star rose, then fell, then rose again, only to be toppled. Drugs are bad, mmmkay? Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, is a man without a team. After five straight All-Star appearances, Hamilton faltered for the next three, and has not played in the majors since 2015. An amazing talent, but he couldn’t defeat his demons.
May 20, 1900
George Grantham hit over .300 for eight straight years, 1924-1931, and .302 for his career. In thirteen seasons, he collected 1508 hits.
May 20, 1963
Two weeks after striking out Mickey Morandini in the 1995 All-Star Game, the Tigers traded David Wells to the Reds. During the off-season, the Reds shipped him to Baltimore for Trovin Valdez and Curtis Goodwin. In December 1995, Murray Chass wrote an article, “The Rich Get Richer As Orioles Get Wells,” for The New York Times, lamenting George Steinbrenner’s inability to convince Reds GM Jim Bowden to take Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada for Wells.
I’m not making this up. As a Reds fan, it absolutely kills me. Chass wrote, “Jim Bowden, the Reds’ general manager, declined to discuss the Yankees’ involvement, but an official familiar with the Wells talks said Steinbrenner called Bowden Saturday night and offered pitcher Mariano Rivera and catcher Jorge Posada. Bowden, looking to cut his payroll, obviously decided he preferred Goodwin, a 23-year-old left-handed hitter, who in 87 games with the Orioles last season batter .263 and had 22 stolen bases in 26 attempts.”
May 20, 1976
This was probably pointed out at the time, but there is a very confusing statement made on the back of Ramon Hernandez’s 2009 Topps card: “In Ramon’s case, patience has paid off. Five years after the Reds signed him as a Minor League free agent, he led their 2008 system in strikeouts and made his MLB debut.” But Hernandez had been playing in the big leagues since 1999 when he debuted with Oakland, and leading a team in strikeouts isn’t considered a good thing for a catcher. The mystery is solved by examining “The Six Degrees of Mantle” at the top of the card: “Ramon Ramirez plays with Homer Bailey…” Whoever wrote the copy for Hernandez’s card thought they were writing for Ramon Ramirez.
May 20, 1980
The Reds made Austin Kearns of Lexington, Kentucky, their first round draft choice in 1998. His best major league season was his rookie year, as he batted .315 while hitting 13 homers and driving in 56 runs. He came in 3rd in Rookie of the Year balloting behind the Rockies’ Jason Jennings and the Expos’ Brad Wilkerson.
May 19, 1955
Alan Knicely’s cardboard debut for the Reds came in the 1983 Topps Traded set, after showing up in the base set with the Houston Astros. The Astros traded Knicely to Cincinnati for Bill Dawley and Tony Walker. Knicely’s 1984 Topps card shows him wearing the tools of ignorance, but he disappeared from the 1985 set. Topps included him in the year-end Traded issue as a Red, but he was traded to the Phillies with Tom Foley in August for the late Bo Diaz.
(July 20, 1964 – May 17, 2017)
One of the most talented hard rock singers of the past few decades, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell has passed. Police are investigating his death as an apparent suicide.