This Day in Reds History: Bill McKechnie passes away

Bill McKechnie - http://farm6.staticflickr.com

On this day in Reds history, Bill McKechnie died.

On this day in 1930, the Reds bought outfielder Wally Roettger from the New York Giants.

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On this day in 1965, Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie died in Bradenton, FL at the age of 79. As I've mentioned before, McKechnie's greatest strength as a manager became his failing weakness. You probably knew someone as a child who was particularly gifted in one area and his parents pushed him in that direction at the expense of other pursuits. By the age of 10, playing the piano or studying math was a full-time job for him, and you couldn't really relate to him anymore. That's how McKechnie was as a manager. He was so devoted to good defense that he lost sight of the offensive side of the game, which cost him his job in Cincinnati.

Managers need to constantly balance the opposing forces -- run scoring and run prevention -- that govern the game of baseball. You can stretch a player or two out of position for his bat like the Tigers have done with Miguel Cabrera at third. Sometimes you can punt a position offensively to fit a great glove in the lineup like Mike Scioscia tried to do with Jeff Mathis for a number of years, but you can't stretch every player on defense or punt every position on offense. If you do, you might have a good year or two, but it's not sustainable. You end up with the mid-2000s Reds with Adam Dunn and the fossilized remains of Ken Griffey, Jr. patrolling the outfield, or you end up with Bill McKechnie's last teams in Cincinnati. Those mid-1940s Reds teams played tremendous defense, but you can't consistently win with a team on-base percentage of .304, just ask the 1945 Reds.

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On this day in 1969, the Reds released pitcher Pedro Ramos.

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On this day in 1996, former Red Ewell Blackwell died in Hendersonville, NC at the age of 74.

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On this day in 2010, the Reds signed righty Justin Lehr.

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BigBabyBruce picked up the point last Wednesday. Cy Seymour is the Reds' franchise leader in batting average.

The 1946 Reds (McKechnie's last season in Cincinnati) scored merely 523 runs on the season. Since the end of the deadball era (1920-present), only one Cincinnati team has managed to score fewer runs in a full season (e.g. not a strike year). The team scored 496 runs and finished in last place. What was the year?

Since this question is very difficult, I will provide a few hints. The team had four Hall of Famers -- five if you count a utility player who went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a manager. The man who led the team in batting average with a .303 mark was known for his terrible vision, which eventually led to his retirement. The manager, Donie Bush, was a former teammate of Ty Cobb's. Oh, and what the hell, I'll also award a point to anyone who can name all five Hall of Famers on the team. The utility player is tricky enough, but one of the regulars is even more challenging in my estimation.

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