Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati Reds’

Greasy

January 8, 2019

“Greasy” Neale with the Reds

Very few players actually earn a World Series ring. Very few people earn a National Football League championship, coach a Rose Bowl team, gain a place in the College Football Hall of Fame and earn a spot in the Professional Football Hall of Fame. In keeping with the 100th Anniversary of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, it’s time you met, as far as I can tell, the only person who did all that, Greasy Neale. And before anybody says something, Jim Thorpe did play in the World Series in 1917, but his team lost (and he never made the Rose Bowl).

Albert Neale was born in November 1891 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. As a kid, he worked as a “grease boy” in a rolling mill (he had to grease the machinery) and the nickname “Greasy” was a natural. The local high school had a football team. What it didn’t have, was a coach. Neale, the oldest player on the team, was named coach. He picked up a scholarship in football to West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1912. He played football, baseball, and basketball.

While still in college, he was signed by the Canadian League team in London, Ontario (Class C at the time), By 1915 he was at Wheeling in Class B ball and was noticed by the Cincinnati Reds. In 1916 he went to the Major Leagues.

But he retained his love of football and spent the 1915 baseball off-season coaching the Muskingum College team. For the remainder of his baseball career, he would continue to waffle between the two sports.

He became the Reds regular left fielder in 1916, remaining there through 1918. In 1919 he moved to right field and participated in the 1919 World Series against the Chicago White Sox (the “Black Sox of scandal infamy). He hit .357 with 10 hits, a double, one triple, four RBIs, and a stolen base.

After the 1920 season he was traded to Philadelphia (the Phillies, not the Athletics), spent 22 games there, and went back to Cincinnati where he stayed through 1922. After spending 1923 out of baseball, he returned to the Reds for three games in 1924, then retired from the sport. For his career his triple slash line reads .259/.319/.332/.651 with 688 hits, 319 runs, 57 doubles, eight home runs, 200 RBIs, 883 total bases, 5.9 WAR, and a World Series ring.

But he wasn’t through with sports. He spent his offseason coaching football at Marietta College, Washington and Jefferson College, and the University of Virginia (where he also coached the baseball team). His Washington and Jefferson team played California in the 1922 Rose Bowl, which ended in a scoreless tie.

Neale went back to the big leagues as a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929, and left before the season ended. He moved back to football and coached both West Virginia and Yale in the 1930s. In 1941 the NFL came calling. He took over the Philadelphia Eagles in 1941 and for the next ten seasons, the Eagles were one of the top NFL teams. They won the NFL Eastern Conference title in 1947 but lost the championship game to the Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals (the Cards only NFL championship), but won consecutive titles in 1948 and 1949. In 1950 the team slumped and Neale was fired.

In 1967 Greasy Neale was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and in 1969 the Professional Football Hall of Fame followed suit. He died in 1973 with quite a unique resume.

“Greasy” Neale as Eagles coach

28 June 1914: the NL

June 27, 2014
Heinie Groh, complete with "bottle bat"

Heinie Groh, complete with “bottle bat”

And now concluding a look at where all three Major Leagues stood on 28 June 1914 (100 years ago tomorrow), the day that the assassination in Sarajevo set off the spark that led to World War I, here’s a view of what was going on in the National League.

The National League had the most games on Sunday, 28 June 1914. Both of the other leagues had three games, a double-header and a single game. The NL went with twin double-headers. In one set Pittsburgh played two in Cincinnati and in the other the Cubs took on the Cardinals in St. Louis.

the Reds managed to sweep both games from the Pirates. In game one they rallied late to take a 7-6 victory. Pittsburgh scored a run in each of the first three innings, got three more in the seventh, and led 6-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Joe Conzelman, in relief of Babe Adams started the ninth, couldn’t get anyone out, and left the job to George McQuillan. McQuillan got two outs, but never got the last, as Cincinnati plated five runs, all earned, to win the game. Heinie Groh of “bottle bat” fame had two hits, scored a run, and drove in one.  But the big hero was center fielder Howard Lohr who had three hits (all singles) scored two runs, and drove in three.

In game two the teams went the other way. In the second, Groh singled, then came home on another single by left fielder Harry LaRoss. It was the only run that starter Marty O’Toole gave up, but Cincinnati starter Pete Schneider picked up his first win of the season by throwing a complete game shutout. For the day Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner went one for seven with an RBI, while fellow Hall of Fame player Max Carey went one for seven and scored a run.

In St. Louis, the two teams split the double-header. In game one the Cards routed Chicago 6-0. The hitting stars were Lee Magee and Dots Miller. Magee scored two runs and had an RBI while going two for two with two walks. Miller went two for four, but drove in three runs. Pitcher Bill Doak threw a complete game shutout.

In the nightcap, with the scored tied 2-2, the Cubs erupts for six runs in the fifth. Tommy Leach two runs, Vic Saier had three RBIs, and Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan had both a run and an RBI from the eight hole. With the score 8-2, St. Louis rallied for two runs in the eighth before Cubs ace Hippo Vaughn entered the game. He gave up one more run, but then shut down St. Louis to record his only save of the season and see Chicago pull off an 8-5 victory.  Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem had the plate for both games.

At the end of the day, Cincy stood in second place, five games behind the Giants, while the Pirates held down fifth place (and were the highest placed team with a losing record). The Cubs were in third and the Cards in fourth. By the end of the season the Cards had risen to third, the Cubs were fourth, the Reds had slipped to last, nine games below seventh place Pittsburgh.

One major trade occurred that day. The last place Braves sent Hub Perdue, a 2-5 pitcher to St. Louis. They got back first baseman Possum Whitted and utility outfielder Ted Cather. Whitted moved into the clean up spot for the Braves and Cather became part of an outfield platoon. Both men were instrumental in the “Miracle Braves” run to the NL pennant and the World Series triumph in 1914. The run began 6 July when Boston ran off seven of eight wins to start the climb to the top.

 

 

 

 

Congrats to Cincinnati and Washington

September 21, 2012

A quick congratulatory note to both the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals for becoming the first teams to guarantee a spot in the 2012 postseason. For the Nationals, it’s the first postseason play for a  Washington team since Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, and Joe Cronin led the Senators to a World Series berth in 1933 (they lost to the Giants). A fun World Series might be the Nationals versus the Texas Rangers. Remember that the Rangers began their existence in Washington before moving to Dallas in the 1970s.

Home Field Advantage

June 13, 2011

Dome, Sweet, Dome

I’m something of a hockey fan. I watch a little when I get the chance and I’ve really enjoyed this year’s Stanley Cup. So far the home team has won each game. That makes for a real “home field advantage” (or ice in this case). I’ve watched a lot of sports over the years and I’ve noticed that the so-call “home field advantage” is kind of an uneven thing. It seems to me that it holds for hockey pretty well, less well for both football and basketball, and is something of a joke in baseball. I’ve always found  that a little strange. Baseball, after all, is the only one that doesn’t have a standardized playing surface. In every hockey match the ice is the same length and width. Same in football and basketball. But in baseball outfields differ greatly. So you’d  think that would give a team used to the outfield an advantage, wouldn’t you? And that doesn’t even begin to address the idea of a domed stadium versus open-air parks.

I decided to test this just a little, without trying to determine why. I went back to 1961 with the first expansion since 1901 and began looking at who won games at home and away in the World Series. Because the pre-World Series playoffs didn’t begin until 1969, I concentrated strictly on the Series. I also determined I wasn’t going to take the time to go through every team. So I picked five teams that played about the same number of World Series’ in the period: the Giants, Mets, Red Sox, Reds, and Twins. Here are the results.

Giants: The Giants appeared in four World Series (1962 and ’89, and 2002 and 2011) winning one (2011). They played 11 games at home, twelve on the road. Their record was 5-6 at home and 5-7 on the road. No advantage either way for them, they do equally poorly at home and away. And to be fair, there are two parks involved as the Giants home field.

Mets: The Mets appeared in three World Series (1969, 1973, 1986) winning two (’69 and ’86). They played 10 games at home, nine on the road. Their record was 7-3 at home and 4-5 on the road. A definite advantage for the Mets to play at home, but  one game under .500 is not a bad record on the road.

Red Sox: The Red Sox appeared in five World Series (1967, ’75, and ’86, and 2004, ’07) winning two (2004 and 2007). They played 15 games at home, 14 on the road. Their record was 9-6 at home and 8-6 on the road. Both are winning records, but are almost exactly alike. There seems to be no advantage for Boston to play either location.

Reds: The Reds appeared in six World Series (1962, ’70, 72, ’75, ’76, and ’90) winning half (1975, ’76,’ and ’90). They played 15 games at home, 16 on the road. Their record was 7-8 at home and 10-6 on the road. Cincinnati actually benefitted by playing on the road. Like the Giants, the Reds’ World Series games occur in two different parks.

Twins: OK, you knew there would be a kicker didn’t you? This is it. The Twins make three World Series (1967, ’87, ’91) winning two (1987 and 1991). They played 12 games at home and nine away. Their record is an  astonishing 11-1 at home and 0-9 on the road. Tell me the Metrodome didn’t make a difference? And again, there are two parks involved. BTW the lone home loss was game 7 of 1965 when they lost a three-hit shutout to Sandy Koufax. Things like that happen.

The Twins number is so outlandish, I decided to check something else. Between 1901 and 1960 the Twins were the Washington Senators, who just happened to also make it to three World Series’ (1924, ’25, and ’33), winning one (1924). They played 10 games at home, nine on the road, with different results. They were 6-4 at home and 2-7 on the road. For anyone curious, the only Senators/Twins pitchers to win a World Series game on the road were George Mogridge (who?) and Walter Johnson. Bet you had the second one figured.

Now this is  only a partial sample and I’m willing to admit that a fuller look might yield different results. But it seems that “home field” isn’t all that big a deal in the World Series (unless you’re the Twins). So maybe making “home field” reliant on the All Star Game isn’t such a big deal either.

The Banker was a Pitcher

September 6, 2010

Orval Overall

At some point every ballplayer has to retire. Some do it gracefully, some are led out kicking and screaming. Some don’t know what to do when they retire, others have a plan. One of the latter was Deadball Era pitcher Orval Overall.

Overall was born on Groundhog Day 1881 in California. He attended the University of California, majoring in agriculture, was elected class president, and played both baseball and football. In 1904 he joined Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League and was picked up by Cincinnati in 1905. He pitched there in both 1905 and 1906, going 22-28. In June 1906, he was traded to Chicago, where he joined a Cubs team on the way to a National League pennant. In both ’06 and ’07 Overall was a mainstay of the Cubs staff, winning 35 games and leading the NL in shutouts in ’07. He developed arm trouble in 1908, then came back in 1909 to win 20 games and led the league in strikeouts and shutouts. More arm trouble in 1910 was followed by a contract dispute and Overall retired after the season.

What did he retire to do? He ran a gold mine (jointly owned with teammate Three Finger Brown). He pitched a little minor league ball, then in 1913 went back to Chicago for one final season. He wasn’t very good and retired permanently at the end of the season. For his career he was 108-71 in 218 games (182 starts). He struck out 935 and walked 551 in 1535 innings and finished with a 2.23 ERA. In World Series play he finished 3-1 with 35 strikeouts, 15 walks, and two rings.

After retirement, Overall returned to California, worked in a brewery, then took over the family citrus farm. He sold it in the 1920s for a boatload of money, and became an appraiser and director of the local bank in Visalia, California. Moving  to Fresno, Overall became vice president of the Security-First National Bank of Los Angeles, eventually rising to branch manager in Fresno. He died in 1947 a very wealthy man.

There continues to be a perception that Deadball Era ball players were a bunch of uneducated, illiterate louts. Well, there’s great truth in that perception. But there was another group of ball players who were intelligent, well-educated, and knew how to manage their affairs. In the 1910 World Series Overall, Jack Barry, Eddie Collins, Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, and Jack Coombs were all college men, most of which went on to good careers after their playing days were over. Let us not forget them when we look at the louts who also inhabited the game.

The Beer and Whiskey League

March 19, 2010

William Hulbert made so many enemies as President of the National League that you begin to wonder if he simply had an aversion to friends. He managed to alienate most of the other league owners at one time or another in his tenure. Doing so in 1880 gave him a new rival for his league, the American Association.

In 1880 the Cincinnati Reds were in trouble financially, not to mention on the field. To solve their financial problem they decided to ignore three significant National Legue rules. First, they began renting out their park on off days and when they were on the road to local semipro teams. Then those teams  began selling beer in the stands. Finally, as Sunday was always an off day, the semipros began scheduling games on Sunday. It wa all too much for William Hulbert and the other owners. On 4 October 1880, the owners met in Rochester, NY and voted to “prohibit the sale of every description of malt, spiritous or vinous liquors” on league grounds. Cincinnati more or less politely told them to go to hell. On 6 October 1880, Cincinnati was expelled from the National League.

It took a year of planning and plotting, but Cincinnati struck back in 1881. On 2 November of that year a number of businessmen joined together to form the American Association. It had six clubs and six owners. Every owner was involved in the liquor business in some shape or form (brewer, distiller, saloon owner, etc). That led to the immediate nickname of “The Beer and Whiskey League.”

The Association began play in 1882 with teams located in Cincinnati (who won the initial pennant), Philadelphia, Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Baltimore. In 1882 they were joined by teams in New York and Columbus, Ohio. From the beginning the Association was a thorn to the NL. They raided teams, brought new teams into NL towns, they charged less for tickets, allowed beer and liquor to be sold in the stands, and were just simply a nuisance that cut deeply into NL attendance. The quality of play varied, but some of the teams were good.

In 1883, the two leagues settled their differences and created the League-Association Alliance that bound the two groups to honor each other’s contracts, create a common reserve rule, and to accept each other’s black lists. In 1884 they agreed to a postseason contest between the two league champions. This “World Series” lasted until 1890.

At the end of 1890, the two leagues argued over the spoils of the now defunct Player’s League (see previous post). The Association was already in deep financial trouble, and when the NL managed to corral almost all the top Player’s League talent, the Association bolted from the agreement and went it alone. The decision was fatal. The Association floundered and the NL moved to kill it off. The League offered to absorb four Association teams: St. Louis (now the Cardinals), Baltimore, Washington, and Louisville. Each team accepted and the Association died.

The Association died for a number of reasons, not least of which was the loss of four of it’s strongest teams. But it also had other problems. The Association never had the funding the NL had. It’s teams were owned by magnates with smaller fortunes (that’s, of course, not universally true, but as a rule is correct) thus less money was available. The cities were smaller. The Association put teams in Columbus, Milwaukee, Toledo, Rochester, Syracuse, Kansas City and Richmond. Nice towns, but not big metropolitan centers. They each had trouble drawing crowds. Finally, the Association was, for about haf its history not particularly competitive. Of 10 pennants, St. Louis won four. The others were won by different teams, but one of them, Brooklyn, immediately bolted for the NL, and Cincinnati, which had been critical in instituting the Association, moved back to the NL at a later date. That’s not real good for stability when your pennant winners are moving out as quickly as possible.

For ten years the Beer and Whiskey League gave Major League baseball a second league to compete with the already established National League. They also ended up winning the war over beer and alcohol and Sunday games because the NL adopted both ideas as soon as the Association folded. Finally the ballpark hot dog was, according to legend, invented by the Association (specifically in St. Louis). If that’s true, then that alone guarantees the American Association an honored place in baseball. Pass the mustard.

Thanks, King

February 22, 2010

All the way back in 1950, there was a poll that decided the greatest American athlete of the first half of the 20th Century. The big winner was Jim Thorpe. He enters baseball twice, and thus is fodder for me.

Thorpe came out of Oklahoma first achieving fame as a footlball star at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. He also starred at track and field, being half of a two man team one year. There wasn’t a lot of money to be had running college track or playing college football, so Thorpe began playing semi-professional baseball during the summer. He was OK, but it wasn’t his best sport.

In 1912 he entered the Olympics, held in Stockholm, Sweden, winning both the decathlon and the pentathlon gold medals. Those medals were handed to him by the King of Sweden who remarked “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe’s deathless reply was “Thanks, King.” It wasn’t long before Thorpe’s semi-pro baseball career came to the attention of the Olympic committee and he lost both medals because of professionalism (The medals were returned to his family in the 1990s).

In 1913, Thorpe joined the New York Giants as an outfielder. He hit a buck 43 over 19 games with two stolen bases. He stayed with the Giants through 1915 hitting .195 with seven stolen bases in 66 games, 28 in the field (all outfield). He sat out 1916, began 1917 at Cincinnati, did reasonably well (.237 average, 12 stolen bases, 36 RBIs), then was traded back to the Giants. He got into the 1917 World Series, playing one game in the outfield without getting to the plate. The Giants lost the Series. His 1918 was much like his 1917 year, hitting .248 with 11 RBIs in 58 games. He started 1919 at New York and ended up with the Boston Braves, finally hitting over .300 (.327) and having 25 RBIs. It was his final season. For a career he hit .252 with 82 RBIs, 29 stolen bases, and 91 runs in 289 games.

After leaving baseball, Thorpe spent time as President of the newly founded National Football League and played a few games for the Canton Bulldogs. He made the NFL Hall of Fame in 1963. His baseball career was certainly well short of Cooperstown. He died in 1953 in California. He was buried in Pennsylvania in a town that agreed to change its name to Jim Thorpe. In the ESPN poll to determine the greatest athlete of the entire 20th Century, Thorpe, dead for almost 50 years, still finished in the top five.

Double No-No

February 17, 2010

The other truly odd game of 1917 occurred on the 2nd of May. This game was in the National League and pitted home team Chicago against the Cincinnati Reds. It became famous at the double no hitter.

The Cubs sent lefty Jim “Hippo” Vaughn to the mound. There are a couple of stories about his nickname. One says it had to do with his size, the other with the way he walked. Don’t know which is true, but the Sports Encylcopedia: Baseball  lists him as 6’4″ and 214 pounds, not exactly hippo-like numbers. He was opposed by Cincinnati ace right-hander Fred Toney.

Both pitchers managed to get through a regulation game without giving up a hit. Both had a couple of walks, with Cubs outfielder Cy Williams being the only Chicago base runner (on two walks). In the tenth inning, Vaughn managed to get the first out, then light hitting shortstop Larry Kopf singled for the first hit of the day by either team. For the year Kopf was a .255 hitter with no power, a little speed (17 stolen bases), and a handful of runs (81). He went to third on an error and came home on a single by backup outfielder Jim Thorpe (Yes, that Jim Thorpe). Thorpe hit all of .247 for the year with 36 RBIs, none more famous than bringing home Kopf. Vaughn then shut down the Reds and Toney took the mound. He set the Cubs down in order to pick up the win and notch his only no hitter.

For years baseball carried the game as the only double no hitter ever pitched. When they changed the rules recently, Vaughn’s effort was washed away and only Toney now gets credit for a no hitter. I guess that’s fair, but it is kind of a shame.

For the season the Cubs ended up 5th 24 games back. Vaughn won 23 games against 13 losses with an ERA of 2.01 and 195 strikeouts. The Reds finished just ahead of Chicago in 4th place 20 games back. Toney was 24-16 with a 2.20 ERA and 123 strikeouts.

Over their careers, Vaughn did slightly better finishing 178-137 over 390 games with 1416 strikeouts and a 2.49 ERA. Toney was 137-102 (a better winning percentage) over 336 games with 718 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.69. But for one day, they were both superb and Toney was better.

This finishes a run of 3 posts on no hitters in 1917. In fairness, I need to point out there were 2 others that year, both in April. Eddie Cicotte of Chicago no hit the Browns on the 14th (and perhaps the two no hitters in May were payback by the Browns) and George Mogridge no hit the Red Sox on the 24th.  There were six no hitters in 1917. That ties 1908, 1915, 1969, and 1990 for most in a single season.