I initially thought I had the 1983 and 1984 Reds Yearbooks, and bought the 1985 edition earlier this week. As it turns out, I am also missing the 1983 book. So that will be next on my eBay-dar.
The 1984 Reds Yearbook was the edition after Johnny Bench and before Eric Davis. The cover of the 1984 book is not nearly as interesting as 1985, so I didn’t bother scanning it. I did, however, scan the cards so I could post them here.
The Reds welcomed Dave Parker to the fold in 1984 as the team’s first major free agent signing.
The Reds also brought Tony Perez back to Cincinnati as his career was winding down. For the Perez card, I am assuming the Yearbook editors used a 1970s photo of the Big Red Machine alum. Photoshop was not a thing back in 1984, and Perez hadn’t suited up for the Redlegs since 1976.
There was one player who started and finished the decade with the Reds with little interruption. Besides an injury rehab assignment in Chattanooga and Nashville in 1988, Ron Oester was Mr. Cincinnati throughout the entire decade of the 1980s.
I love batting cage baseball cards. Oester is watching Nick Esasky take cuts, patiently waiting his turn. And how about those no-name-on-back warmup jerseys? Pure ’80s gold right there.
May 11, 1928
Vern Rapp managed the Reds for 121 games in 1984. His last game was Wednesday, August 15. The Reds didn’t play on Thursday, but the front office was busy bringing home one of Cincinnati’s most popular players in Pete Rose. Rose not only joined the team on the field, but replaced Rapp as the skipper on Friday, August 17.
In just ten days from his home address, Vern Rapp signed my 1984 Topps Traded card. This is the eighth Reds autograph from the 1984 Topps/Topps Traded sets that I have obtained; I have four others in the mail at the moment (and will probably have more out by the end of the month).
In 1984, Rapp managed the Reds to a 51-70 record in 141 games before Pete Rose took over for the remainder of the season. Rapp had previously managed the Cardinals in 1977-78, and announced his retirement from the Montreal Expos organization as a coach at the end of the 1983 season. A Boston radio station decided to broadcast a tribute to Rapp as a parody of the many Carl Yasztrzemski-themed tributes being paid on-air for his retirement (see the Sports Illustrated write-up here). The Reds brass caught wind of the broadcast, realized that Rapp could potentially be an asset to the team, and talked him out of retirement.
Rapp never played in the major leagues, but his minor league record stretches back to the 1940s. He started out at age 18 in 1946 playing for a Cardinals affiliate. His last at-bat in the minor leagues came in 1976 at the age of 48, almost like a minor league version of Minnie Minoso. He got a hit for AA Denver in his first plate appearance since 1966. His playing career ended with 792 hits, prompting Topps to change the number of cards in their annual set just a few years later.
If you believe that last part about Topps, I have a few thousand late 1980s baseball cards that would make a great investment…maybe even pay for your kids’ college educations!