The sixth post in Red Reporter's count down of the 10 Greatest Moments in Reds All Star History. This is my attempt to rank the most memorable and exciting moments relevant to the Cincinnati Reds in the history of the Mid-Summer Classic.
July 13, 1982
1982. Men at Work and "Ebony and Ivory" topped the charts. Grease 2 premiered. Pete Rose was playing for the Phillies. Johnny Bench was playing third base. The Reds were horrible. Just a season removed from the travesty that was the 1981 baseball season, in which the Reds owned the best record in the NL but failed to qualify for the playoffs, they were 19 games back at the break and finished 61-101. Dead last in the NL West, 28 games behind the division-leading braves and 16 games back of the 5th place Astros.
But it wasn't all bad. There were some good beginnings in '82. The Smiths and the Pogues formed. Anne Hathaway and Elisabeth Moss were born. So were a few of you jokers too, I'd wager. Dave Concepcion still held sway over short stop, as he had since 1970 and still had one very good season ahead of him. Especially now, with yet another SS candidate freshly called up to the bigs, it's easy to idealize the Concepcion Era. 19 seasons of mostly Gold Glove caliber defense and hitting that almost always at least adequate, especially given the era.
Concepcion came into the Break slashing .293/.332/.363, with 9 SBs. He was elected to start for the NL over Ozzie Smith, who had a very similar line (.258/.326/.362, 16 SB), on the strength of his Big Red Machine pedigree and batting average. It was Davey's 8th straight All Star appearance and 9th in his career, but would be his last. Despite appearances, Concepcion didn't really steal from Ozzie's trophy case. It would be Concepcion's successor, Barry Larkin, that would stand in the shadow of the Wizard of Oz for a portion of his career.
Concepcion joined teammate Mario Soto and current Red Dusty Baker (then a Dodger) on the NL side. The Senior Circuit, managed by Tommy LaSorda, would oppose then-Red Sox starter Dennis Eckersly with the Expos' Steve Rogers. Concepcion's first at bat came in the Bottom of the 2nd, with two outs and the NL trailing 0-1. Dale Murphy had worked Eck for a walk and stood at first base. Concepcion made solid contact with a pitch, lifting it down the LF line and fair. A two-run home-run to put the NL up 2-1.
With Steve Carlton on the mound, Concepcion turned a 1-5-3 double play in the Top of the 5th, throwing on to former BRM-teammate Pete Rose. Davey closed out his game 1-3 with 2 RBI, being pulled for a pinch-running Ozzie Smith after reaching on an error. His HR and double play were the Top 2 plays of the game by Winning-team Win Probability Added (wWPA) and Davey rightfully took home the Game's MVP award.
It's worth asking why a one-hit game - a second-inning HR at that - would justify the #5 spot. Aside from admitting this is a highly subjective and flawed process, there's the WPA and MVP business. Only one Red, Frank Robinson, has recorded more than two hits in an All Star Game. Only a few hits by Reds' players have meant more to the game's eventual outcome than this one. Concepcion wound up with only 5 HRs in '82 and given how truly atrocious the Reds were that season, this might have been the most exciting and meaningful home run by any Red in 1982.