I kicked this off last year, but it proved enough research and work that I wanted to hold off on it until another offseason. Now that we're 101 days until Opening Day, I'm happy to announce that we'll be counting down by going over the quintessential Reds for every uniform number. Every day from now until the season starts, if there's a Red who's worn the uniform number of that countdown day, we'll have another list counting down the quintessential Reds.
A couple of guidelines we're going off of for this. When players have worn multiple uniform numbers, we're usually going to go off of the one they wore the most often or had the most success in. We're also throwing out the 1938 team, who inexplicably went to absurdly high uniform numbers for one year before reverting back in the '39 season.
With 101 days, we're actually going to start with #1 (and we'll have something special when we get to 1 in the countdown). It also helps that if you read RR in February of this year or so, that you've already seen this list, so here goes.
When you think of #14 for the Reds, who pops into your mind? What about #11? Those are easy, right?
What about #44 or #21? A little bit tougher. What about #56? This is a project to answer these questions to the best of our ability.
I've done some research to put into context every number that's been worn by a Red at any time in history. Keep in mind, you won't be seeing any Edd Roush or Noodles Hahn on this list, as the Reds started wearing uniform numbers in 1932, which is fairly recent given their history.
This normally coveted uniform number has an unusual history with the Reds, who retired it in 1964. Even then, in the 32 years it was available, it was only worn by 6 players and for 6 total years.
Counting down, who's the quintessential #1 for the Reds?
5. Gus Brittain (-0.1 WAR)
This number was so unpopular that one of the 5 best guys to wear it only had 6 total at bats in the big leagues. Brittain was a catcher who only started one game behind the plate, the second game of a doubleheader against the Brooklyn Robins (Jay-Z should rename his basketball team this). He had one hit, but that makes him better than at least one player, so he's not in bad shape.
4. Dee Moore (0.0 WAR)
Moore was another catcher in 1937, and was the last player to wear #1 for the Reds. He played for the team for 2 years (totalling 25 PA) and didn't resurface until the middle of the Second World War, when he played a full season with the Phillies and Dodgers. Fun fact about him: He actually got called to pitch in a game in '36 (at age 22) and had the following line: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 K, 2 BB. I wonder if they kept him here, if he'd be higher up on this list.
3. Gilly Campbell (1.6 WAR)
This is kind of an odd case, because he was actually a total 2.6 WAR player with the Reds, but the rest of it happened with a different uniform number. Named as a nickname from his middle name of "Gilthorpe", Campbell was a catcher for 2 years on the team. He was 2nd in the league in passed balls in 1936, and his best BBRef comparison is ex-Met-current-Jay Josh Thole. He's 3rd on this list. Let's continue.
2. George "Boots" Grantham (2.5 WAR)
An infielder, Grantham had already had a pretty decent career with the Cubs and Pirates before the Reds purchased him in 1932. He hit .292/.364/.412 in 1932, which would look pretty decent in today's lineup (you know, before the Choo signing), but declined in '33 and was out of the league by '35.
1. Fred Hutchinson
For the vast majority of Reds fans, this is the only man that's been associated with this number. He took over for Mayo Smith at the age of 37 in 1959, and had the Reds to the World Series by 1961. Hutch was plagued by cancer in his final season, stepping down on August 13th of that season. He passed away 3 months later. The Reds retired his number shortly after, and MLB has given out an award in his honor ever since.