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Happy Reds birthday, Don Newcombe!


June 14, 1926

Before there was Madison Bumgarner, there was Don Newcombe. “Newk” was well-known for his offensive prowess, hitting seven homers in 1955. He was the Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers in 1949, and won both the Cy Young and MVP award in 1956 when he won 27 games for Brooklyn. He came to Cincinnati in 1958 and played 66 games for the Reds between 1958 and 1960; he finished his career in 1960 with Cleveland.


Don Newcombe was a complete player

Rookie of the Year in 1949. Four times an All-Star. Cy Young and MVP Award winner in 1956. Don Newcombe149 wins. But Don Newcombe was more than just a good pitcher. He was a good hitter, too.

Often used as a pinch hitter during his career, Newk racked up 15 homers and 108 RBI in his 10-year career. In 1955 alone, he knocked the ball out of the park seven times on his way to a 2.5 oWAR score for the season. His batting average was .271, with 238 hits in 878 at-bats.

The Dodgers foolishly traded Newcombe during the 1958 season to the Redlegs for four players: Steve Bilko, Johnny Klippstein, Art Fowler, and Charlie Rabe. He continued his hitting display during three seasons with the Reds, pounding out 58 hits in 201 at-bats. That’s a .289 average!

The Reds sure could use a bat like Newcombe’s on the bench this year…or any year. He was an underrated player during his career, and while the Dodgers do a good job of recognizing his greatness, he is still overlooked by many fans.

Vintage Reds in the mail

Man, I love blind trades. I came across a Cubs fan on the Baseball Fever forums, and we agreed to swap boxes. I sent him almost 400 Cubs cards; he dumped the box, reloaded it with Reds, and sent it back my way. You don’t know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be good because who doesn’t love a box full of your favorite team?

Sometimes, though, the box is much better than you could have ever imagined. I opened the box to find not one, but two cards from the 1959 Topps set, six from the 1960s, and several 1970s and early 1980s. What a haul!

This card is especially cool because I don’t have many cards featuring Vada Pinson, a guy who had a borderline case for the Hall of Fame. He was on track early, and then just tapered off, never quite reaching the career numbers expected of him.

But check out how faded the back of the card is, too…

It was awful nice of someone to scribble the number on the back since it was so faded.

A trio of ’69ers…

As we move into the much more hip decade of the 1970s, we have a heavenly black-bordered 1971 and a reminder that the early Big Red Machine was not quite ready…

There was also a fair amount of the “junk wax” era, but amazingly some needs were met, such as this 1988 Topps John Franco, the last one I needed for the team set!

And this ’91 Score “Cooperstown Card” of Barry Larkin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this card before. Weren’t they factory-set bonuses or something like that?

This was a great trade! In fact, I have yet to regret a blind trade. I get the chance to send off cards that I don’t want for cards that I can actually use…either for my collection, for TTM requests, or to bribe the kids with.

I’m going to hold off on more blind trades for the time being as I continue to sort through my collection, but leave a comment with a team you’re interested in and an e-mail address, and I will get a hold of you when I’m ready to go again! (Never mind that “holding off” junk…I love getting packages in the mail to much!)

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