The sixth post in Red Reporter's count down of the 10 Greatest Moments in Reds All Star History. This is my attempt to rank the most memorable and exciting moments relevant to the Cincinnati Reds in the history of the Mid-Summer Classic.
July 13, 1976
America's Bicentennial year was the peak not only of the Big Red Machine's dominance, but probably of the entire Cincinnati Reds franchise history to date. The Reds would appear in 6 League Championships and 4 World Series during the 1970s, but '76 stands tallest. It was the second straight World Series title - a sweep. It was three regular players OBPing over .400. Joe Morgan's insane 10 WAR season. Solid-to-good performances from virtually every pitcher. Dan Driessen and Bob Bailey were bench players on this team.
The '76 NL All Star side reflected the unimpeachable greatness of The Machine. Sparky Anderson managed and seven Reds made the team - all position players. Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Johnny Bench and Dave Concepcion started, with Perez and Griffey picked by Sparky as reserves. The NL faced a clearly inferior AL squad that nonetheless featured the likes of Rod Carew, George Brett, Thurmon Munson and a pitching corps that included Mark Fidrych, Catfish Hunter and Luis Tiant. These last three would each pitch equal shares of the first six innings, with the rookie Fidrych leading off.
Philadelphia, the birthplace of Independence, played host. Our nation's first capital city got a healthy tax revenue bump that year. Among other events, it also hosted the '76 NBA and NHL All Star Games and '76 Final Four. But there was little about Veteran's Stadium that inspired much Patriotism or reflection. It was a cookie-cutter stadium. If you squinted inside, it looked just like Riverfront. Which might be why it felt so comfortable for the Reds.
Pete Rose, who would come to know the Vet more intimately than any other member Big Red Machine, scored the first NL run after a lead-off single. Three batters later, George Foster brought in Steve Garvey with an RBI groundout. Two innings and two more Reds hits later, Morgan punched a one-out single to CF and George Foster came to the plate to face Catfish Hunter. Foster, whose '76 was just a prelude to his monster '77 and '78 seasons, clubbed a two-run home run to deep left center for his 2nd and 3rd RBIs of the game and put the NL up 4-0. Sparky had a cushy 90% win expectancy, which may have given him a chance to enjoy a well-deserved smoke in the tunnel.
When the dust settled, George Foster took home the the game's MVP award and Big Red Machinists had collected 7 of the NL's 10 hits (including a triple from Rose and Foster's HR), four of its seven RBIs and been party to all 3 successful NL double plays. Never before - and never since - have the Reds so thoroughly dominated an All Star Game. Or a decade.