This Day in Reds History: So long, Kurt Stillwell

Kurt Stillwell - thewritersjourney.wordpress.com

On this day in Reds history, the team traded Kurt Stillwell to Kansas City.

On this day in 1933, Hall of Fame executive Larry MacPhail purchased a stake in the Reds. He would become the team's general manager from 1933 to 1936. Perhaps his most memorable contribution to the team was his decision to install lights at Crosley Field in 1935.

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On this day in 1976, the Reds acquired righty Jim Sadowski from the Pirates in exchange for right-hander Tom Carroll.

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On this day in 1987, the Reds dealt reliever Ted Power and shortstop Kurt Stillwell to the Royals for starter Danny Jackson and shortstop Angel Salazar. The trade worked out pretty well for Cincinnati, especially in 1988. Admittedly, Stillwell had what was probably his best year in 1988 while Power had a miserable season split between Kansas City and Detroit. However, Jackson had an All-Star year for the Reds and finished second in the voting for the Cy Young Award. His season wasn't as spectacular as his win-loss record indicated, but he still posted a 2.73 ERA (132 ERA+) in 261 innings of work.

By trading Stillwell, the Reds cleared the last obstacle in Barry Larkin's path to an everyday job. They had each played over 100 games in 1987 with Larkin playing only shortstop whereas Stillwell split his time between shortstop, second base, and third base. To that point in their careers, Stillwell had hit .246/.313/.326 in nearly 750 plate appearances while Larkin had hit .254/.310/.380 in about 650 plate appearances. Certainly Larkin looked like the better hitter, but the difference wasn't massive and neither player had much experience. Stillwell was actually a year younger than Larkin as well. Larkin was the better defender although in 1989 Baseball America claimed that Stillwell had the American League's "Best Infield Arm," an idea that Bill James admittedly found fanciful in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. James said that Cal Ripken, Jr., for one, had a stronger arm though James admitted that Stillwell did have a nice arm (p. 594). Given what we know now, it's obvious that Cincinnati made the right choice. Larkin went on to a Hall of Fame career while Stillwell never could quite put everything together. Whichever scout or executive could see the difference between the two players deserves a great deal of credit.

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On this day in 1989, the Reds signed catcher Donnie Scott.

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On this day in 1990, the Reds signed catcher Dave Liddell. He had only one plate appearance in his major league career, but he made the most of it, doubling and later scoring a run for the Mets on the third of June, 1990.

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On this day in 1992, the Reds bought left-handed reliever Greg Cadaret from the Yankees.

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On this day in 2001, the Reds signed catcher Jesse Levis.

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On this day in 2004, the Reds signed right-hander Brian Rose.

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On this day in 2008, the Reds signed catcher Ben Davis. Baseball-Reference lists him as "Mark Christopher Davis." It's beyond me how you get "Ben" from that name.

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Riverfront76 earned yesterday's point. Mike Cameron was the other major league player (in addition to Dernell Stenson) who attended LaGrange High School in LaGrange, GA.

Kurt Stillwell made one all-star appearance in his career. He played one inning in the field in the 1988 All-Star Game at Riverfront Stadium as a member of the AL team. Name the three all-stars from the Reds in 1988.

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