This Day (& Yesterday) in Reds History: Bubbles, Bucky, Bench, & a Brawl

CINCINNATI - APRIL 11: (FILE PHOTO) Manager Lou Piniella of the Chicago Cubs is pictured during the game against the Cincinnati Reds on April 11 2010 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati Ohio. It was announced that Cubs manager Lou Piniella says he is retiring after Sunday's game against the Atlanta Braves citing family reasons on August 22 2010. The Cubs named third base coach Mike Quade manager for the rest of the season. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Note: Chris Jaffe from HardballTimes.com forwarded along several Reds history events yesterday. These events actually occurred on September 17th, but are included here. They are too good to exclude. You can read Jaffe's full column with events from throughout baseball here. Let's all give Chris Jaffe a tip of the hat for the great information about yesterday's events.

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On this day in 1889, Reds Hall of Famer Heinie Groh was born in Rochester, NY. Groh was an outstanding third basemen who logged nine seasons and 39.1 WAR in Cincinnati. He was a key member of the 1919 Reds team that won the NL pennant and the World Series.

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Yesterday in 1900, Cincinnati shortstop Tommy Corcoran discovered a wire running to the Phillies' dugout while coaching at third base. The Phillies' backup catcher, Morgan Murphy, was stealing signs in the outfield clubhouse and wiring the signs to the Philadelphia third base coach via a buzzer buried in the coach's box.

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On this day in 1913, Reds Hall of Famer Bubbles Hargrave made his major league debut. Hargrave played in Cincinnati from 1921 to 1928. When looking at Hargrave's Baseball-Reference page, one might wonder why he did not accumulate more playing time (only 2671 PAs while in Cincinnati), as he slashed .314/.377/.461 as the Reds' catcher, good for a 124 wRC+. However, for much of Hargrave's time in Cincinnati, the Reds also had Ivey Wingo. Despite being on the downside of his career in Cincinnati, Wingo was a fine backup catcher until the last few years of his career. I see no mention of major injuries to Hargrave, so I believe the Reds simply did not play Hargrave too much, because the team had a very useful backup catcher in Wingo.

On this day in 1931, Reds Hall of Famer Bucky Walters made his major league debut. Walters originally played the infield (mainly third base) before switching to pitcher while playing for the Phillies in 1935. Walters is best known for his outstanding season in 1939, for which he won the MVP. He led the NL in wins, ERA, complete games, innings, strikeouts, WHIP, H/9, RA9, ERA-, and bWAR (pitchers and total). Walters had a great season at the plate, too. He slashed .325/.357/.433 (112 wRC+) in 131 PAs.

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On this day in 1936, Reds general manager Larry MacPhail resigned. MacPhail later owned the New York Yankees in the 1940s before leaving baseball to focus on owning and breeding thoroughbred racehorses. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978. His son, Lee, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. They remain the only father-son duo in the Hall of Fame.

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On this day in 1940, the Reds clinched the NL pennant with a 4-3 win over the Phillies.

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Yesterday in 1947, Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi appeared in his final major league game. The Schnozz slashed .311/.359/.469 (124 wRC+) as a Red while also winning the 1938 MVP and batting title. In his 10 seasons in the Queen City, Lombardi also helped the Reds win two NL pennants (1939, 1940) and a World Series championship (1940). The Reds honored Lombardi with a statue at Crosley Terrace in 2004.

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Yesterday in 1953, Cincinnati fired Rogers Hornsby, who had been hired in the midst of the previous season. Hornsby was a world class grouch and general malcontent that managed to irritate nearly everyone at every stop in his long career in baseball. The Rajah posted a 91-106 record as the manager of the Reds.

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Yesterday in 1983, the Reds held Johnny Bench Night at Riverfront Stadium. Bench appeared at catcher for the final time as a big leaguer and smashed his final home run. The Hall of Famer went 2 for 3 with a walk, a run, and two runs driven in, but the Reds lost to the Astros, 4-3.

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Yesterday in 1992, manager Lou Piniella and reliever Rob Dibble got into shoving match in the Cincinnati clubhouse after a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. Dibble was upset that Piniella did not use him in a close game even though he was rested. The incident was brief, and the two men worked out their differences the following day with Marge Schott. The damage was done, however, as the brouhaha had taken place in front of cameras. Piniella would leave Cincinnati after the season while Dibble had one more ineffective campaign for the Reds in 1993 before departing.

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Bonus trivia question: This post mentions three of the four catchers in the Reds Hall of Fame. Who is the fourth catcher?

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