This Day in Reds History: Hail to Hershie & an all too short life

Willard Hershberger - http://www.wondrousstories.com

On this day in Reds history, Willard Hershberger was born.

On this day in 1887, former Red Jim Thorpe was born in Prague, OK. Last month, I wrote about Cincinnati's acquisition of Thorpe.

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On this day in 1909, the Reds traded outfielder and pitcher Kid Durbin to the Pirates for outfielder Ward Miller and cash considerations. Durbin must have shown some sort of potential in the field and on the mound, but his career never materialized. Miller, however, gave the Reds decent production in two part-time seasons.

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On this day in 1910, former Red Willard Hershberger was born in Lemoncove, CA. Hershberger was a dependable backup catcher for the Reds from 1938 to 1940, but unfortunately, he is remembered as the only major league ballplayer to commit suicide during the season.

Ernie Lombardi went down with an injury in the summer of 1940 leading to Hershberger taking over starting duties for Cincinnati. The team lost a few games as Hershberger battled a slump at the plate. He blamed himself for the losses and said to Billy Werber that "If Ernie had been catching, we wouldn't have lost those ball games." Hershberger became increasingly depressed, and called in sick to batting practice on August third. When he didn't show up for the first game of the doubleheader, manager Bill McKechnie sent someone to check on Hershberger at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, where the team was staying. The man and a hotel employee found Hershberger dead in the bathroom. The Reds dedicated the 1940 World Series championship to Hershberger, and the team voted his mother a share of the bonus from the title (Wikipedia).

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On this day in 1958, former Red Bill Doran was born in Cincinnati. Doran appeared in 260 games for the Reds from 1990 to 1992.

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On this day in 1971, former Reds hitting coach Chris Chambliss made his major league debut with the Indians at the age of 22. Chambliss pinch hit for shortstop Fred Stanley in the bottom of the eighth. He grounded out, but went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award over Milwaukee righty Bill Parsons. Chambliss served as the hitting coach for Cincinnati from 2004 to 2006.

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