On this day in 1889, Reds Hall of Famer Heinie Groh was born in Rochester, NY. Much like fellow Red Buddy Bell, one could make a pretty good Hall of Fame case for Groh. I'm not sure I could convince myself to vote for him, but I think the position is certainly defensible.
Groh played in a transitional era for third basemen. When he came up in the early 1910's, third base was a defense-first position. Teams bunted so often in that era that you just couldn't afford to put a Miguel Cabrera or Bobby Bonilla at the hot corner. The 1912 NL had eight teams, and the league recorded 1,362 sacrifice bunts in 1,226 games, or nearly 1.1 sac bunts per game. In comparison, the 2012 NL, with sixteen teams, recorded 1,024 sacrifice bunts in 2,592 games, or about 0.4 bunts per game. The modern AL, of course, records even fewer because of the designated hitter.
By the end of Groh's career, one could see the dawn of the modern power-hitting third baseman. Harlond Clift broke onto the scene in 1934 and average 20 home runs a season in his first eight seasons. These transitions often make it difficult to accurately evaluate players. From the start of the modern era to the late '20s when the last deadball players began to fade away, Groh was as good as any third baseman not named Home Run Baker. People have made the Hall of Fame with weaker cases.
On this day in 1899, the Reds bought pitcher Jack Cronin from the Detroit Tigers, then of the Western League. As best I can tell, Jack was not related to Joe Cronin the Hall of Fame shortstop.
On this day in 1913, Reds Hall of Famer Bubbles Hargrave made his major league debut with the Cubs at the age of 21.
On this day in 1925, former Red Harvey Haddix was born in Medway, OH. Haddix pitched for Cincinnati in 1958. I wrote about Haddix's most famous game a few weeks ago.
On this day in 1967, the Reds sent corner infielder Len Boehmer to the Yankees in exchange for lefty Bill Henry.