clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Reds History: "The Old Roman"

Getty Images

On this day in 1859, former Red, Charles "The Old Roman" Comiskey, was born in Chicago. Comiskey is best known for his days as owner of the Chicago White Sox, but he was well-known in his playing days as well. He was a member of the notoriously rowdy American Association St. Louis teams of the 1880s. With Comiskey at first base, St. Louis won four consecutive AA pennants from 1885 to 1888, including the World's Series in 1886. (The club also tied in the World's Series in 1885. The World's Series of the time were poorly coordinated money grabs that sound remarkably boring in retrospect.) For many years, Comiskey was credited as being the first baseman who first played off the bag. Harold Seymour, in Baseball: The Early Years, disagrees, stating that "this method of play was familiar and commonly used back in the 1860s." This innovation is now ascribed to Joe Start.

Comiskey later wrapped up his playing career in Cincinnati. "The Old Roman" played poorly during his three years (1892-1894) in the Queen City, slashing .233/.273/.288, good for a Smoakian wRC+ of 56. Of the 83 players that amassed more than 1000 plate appearances during those years, Comiskey's wRC+ was 82nd, ahead of only the notable Jiggs Parrott of the Chicago Nine. (The original Billy Hamilton led the way with a 159 wRC+.)

"The Old Roman" would cross paths with the Reds once again in the infamous 1919 World Series, this time as the owner of the White Sox. Eliot Asinof in Eight Men Out painted Comiskey as a skinflint who drove his players to sell out the Series. It is the view of this author that Asinof exaggerated the faults of Comiskey. The poster Ubiquitous at the Baseball-Fever forums has done an excellent job of collecting information pertaining to the Black Sox Scandal. In this thread, Ubiquitous cites Gene Carney (author of Burying the Black Sox: How Baseball's Cover-Up of the 1919 World Series Fix Almost Succeeded), saying, "Comiskey in fact had the highest payroll in the game . . . He had 3 players who were the highest paid for their position in the game." (Ubiquitous, Regardless, Comiskey survived the scandal and owned the White Sox until his death in 1931.

On this day in 1935, former Reds pitcher, Joey Jay, was born in Middletown, CT. Jay pitched for the Reds from 1961 to 1966, winning 75 and losing 63 while in Cincinnati. He led the NL in wins and shutouts in 1961 with 21 and four respectively. During his time in Cincinnati, Jay posted an ERA+ of 100.


On this day in 1970, Lee May drove in all five of the Reds's runs in a 5-4 win over the Phillies at Riverfront Stadium.


On this day in 1984, the Reds acquired Pete Rose from Montreal for Tom Lawless. The Reds fired manager Vern Rapp and named Rose player-manager.


On this day in 1995, former Red and -ManBearPig favorite, Reggie Sanders, slugs three home runs in a 11-3 win over Colorado at Riverfront Stadium.


On this day in 2010, the Reds beat Florida 2-0 to sweep the Fish and rebound from a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals the previous weekend. The victory over the Marlins gave the Reds a one game lead in the NL Central, and Cincinnati led the rest of the season.