We could talk about Billy Hamilton‘s better-than-expected rookie campaign and the possibility of winning the National League Rookie of the Year award over the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. Or we could talk about Jumbo Diaz‘s long road to the majors, after bouncing around for more than a decade in the minors with the Dodgers, Rangers, Orioles, and Pirates before finally making it to The Show with the Reds. Or we could talk about Kristopher Negron‘s cup of coffee in 2012, followed by a less-than-stellar 2013 in Louisville, before becoming a reliable (though still less-than-stellar) utility man for the injury-plagued Cincinnati nine.
Or we could talk about those clothes. Hamilton is appropriately dressed as Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony. Get it? He’s fast.
Diaz is the Queen of Hearts I think? But there was another Queen of Hearts in a different costume, so I’m not positive.
Negron is Olive Oyl. I guess because he’s skinny. Or maybe just because it fit.
To see more rookie hazing around the bigs, check out this article on sportingnews.com.
(February 1, 1944 – December 26, 2013)
A centerfielder for the Orioles, Yankees, and Reds, Paul Blair passed away at the age of 69. Reports are that he collapsed while bowling. Blair was a two-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner, and four-time World Champion with the Orioles and Yankees. He spent part of the 1979 season with the Reds, but his last great season was 1974. Blair topped 5.0 in WAR three times, 6.0 once, and 7.0 once. For those learning about WAR (like me), 5.0+ is considered All-Star level, so he had five All-Star level seasons.
While putting my Reds cards in binders a few days ago, I realized I had the complete 1980 Topps Cincinnati Reds team set. The last card I needed was Manny Sarmiento, and it was received a few months ago from a fellow blogger. I decided that a special post was in order, as this is the oldest complete team set I have for the Reds. Twenty-six cards in all to represent the 1979 NL West champs. I also included the 1980 Burger King Tom Seaver card since there is a photo variation. George Foster was also included in the Burger King release, but the photo is the same as the base 1980 card, and I don’t have it yet. I’ve typed enough…on to the cards…
#500 Tom Seaver • #516 Hector Cruz • #550 Ken Griffey • #606 Cincinnati Reds CL/John McNamara MG • #622 Mario Soto • #650 Joe Morgan • #677 Art DeFreites/Frank Pastore/Harry Spilman • #714 Fred Norman • Burger King Pitch/Hit/Run #10 Tom Seaver
Most of the Big Red Machine position players were the same, with Driessen replacing Tony Perez at first base and Knight replacing Pete Rose at third. Foster led the team in home runs and RBI while Knight and Collins both posted a .318 batting average. Morgan would leave the Reds after the 1979 season, signing with the Houston Astros as a free agent. Geronimo’s playing time would be cut significantly in 1980, and he was traded prior to the 1981 season for German Barranca.
The pitching was quite different, however. Starters Jack Billingham, Gary Nolan, Don Gullett, and closer Rawly Eastwick were all gone by 1979. Seaver, LaCoss, and Hume were the big names on the mound in ’79, with a young Soto working out of the bullpen.
There are a couple of almost connections to the 1990 World Champion teams. Griffey played part of the 1990 season with the Reds before his release and signing with the Seattle Mariners to play with his son Ken Griffey Jr. Collins bounced around a bit in the 1980s and came back to Cincinnati from 1987-1989, but ended up with the Cardinals in 1990. Ron Oester, whose rookie card was produced in the 1979 set, was left out of the 1980 issue. 1990 would be Oester’s last in the majors.