On this day in 1896, former Red Curt Welch died in East Liverpool, OH. Welch only spent part of one season in Cincinnati (the second half of 1892). He was the type of colorful character that baseball no longer possesses. According to Derek Zumsteg at The Cheater's Guide to Baseball Blog, Welch would hide "cases (cases!) of beer behind the billboards of Sportsman’s Park [in St. Louis], so he could enjoy beers while playing at the home park." In both The National Game and Robert L. Tiemann's Nineteenth Century Stars, Welch is described as "uncouth" and "uneducated".
Welch is best known today for his "$15,000 slide" in the 1886 World's Series. With the score tied in the bottom of the tenth, Welch scored the series-winning run on what has been variously described as a wild pitch or a steal of home. The winner's share in the series was $15,000 to divide among the victorious players, hence the name. (BR Bullpen) Bill James called the "$15,000 slide" "the most famous play of 19th century baseball" in the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. A more in-depth description of the "$15,000 slide" is available at This Game of Games.
The other key players involved in the "$15,000 slide" are even more historically notable than Welch. John Clarkson, a Hall of Famer and 300 game winner, was the pitcher for Chicago that unleashed the high pitch. Mike "King" Kelly, another Hall of Famer, was the Chicago catcher that bobbled the ball that allowed Welch to score. Kelly was the subject of the first popular baseball song, "Slide, Kelly, Slide".
Welch's drinking would destroy his career and his life. His last good season came at age 29, and he was out of the game at 31. He was only 34 years old when he passed away. This Game of Games has another post about Curt Welch that is worth reading for those who are interested in learning more about him.
On this day in 1933, former Red Lonny Frey made his major league debut. Frey was the Reds' second baseman from 1938 to 1946 (he missed all of 1944 and 1945 while serving in World War II). Like many of Bill McKechnie's players, Frey played excellent defense. He posted 13.3 dWAR and saved 57 runs in the field (rField) in his career. However, this somewhat understates his defensive abilities as Frey came up as a shaky shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. McKechnie made Frey a full time second baseman in 1938. Frey blossomed, and from that point to the end of his career, Frey accumulated 13.6 dWAR and saved 88 runs on defense. Frey also hit well until he entered the army. He slashed .267/.357/.369 from 1938 to 1943, good for a wRC+ of 109. According to Fangraphs, Frey was the sixth most valuable player in the National League over this span. Frey's play slipped after the war, and he retired in 1948.
Lonny Frey was the "Leopard" in the Reds' famous "Jungle Cat" infield of 1939 and 1940. He was the first second baseman inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame when he was elected in 1961.
On this day in 1969, the Reds signed Dan Driessen.
On this day in 1970, Pete Rose knocked his 1,500th career hit in a 4-3 victory over the Expos at Jarry Park Stadium (Stade Parc Jarry) in Montreal.
On this day in 1985, the Reds traded Cesar Cedeno to St. Louis for Mark Jackson.
On this day in 1996, former Red Dmitri Young made his major league debut. Coincidentally, Da Meat Hook's younger brother, Delmon, made his major league debut 10 years to the day later.
On this day in 1998, the Reds defeated the Marlins at
Cinergy Field Riverfront Stadium, 7-5. It was the the Marlins' 89th loss of the season, which set the record for most losses by a defending World Series champion. The 1991 Reds had previously held the record with 88 losses.