Record: 97-57, finished 1st in 8-team National League, lost World Series to Yankees in four games.
Did this team matter?: You betcha. Not only did the Reds win the pennant, they set the stage for the franchise’s second world championship the following year.
Performances to remember: I don’t know how to quantify this, or how even to research in a way to supplement my ignorant supposition, but I would submit that Bucky Walters’s 1939 season had the best combined pitcher/hitter season in Reds history. As a pitcher, he posted a 27-11 record (still tied for the most pitcher wins in a season by a Red, post-1900), led the league in wins, ERA, Innings Pitched, and strikeouts. As a hitter, he came to the plate 131 times and rocked a .325/.357/.433 batting line. 10 extra base hits and 16 RBI, homey. 170 ERA+, 110 OPS+, MVP award. Ironically, perhaps, in the ’39 World Series he surrendered 9 runs in 11 innings, was credited with two losses, and went oh-for-three.
Wikipedia says: “During the season, Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters became the last pitchers to win at least 25 games in one season for the Reds in the 20th century.”
Uniform notes: 1939 would kick off the first of eight seasons where the Reds ostensibly had as much blue in their uniform as red. However, blue had been an on/off component of Cincy uniforms since at least 1900 and would continue in some form or fashion until 1956.
My fashion-conscious, non-baseball-fan tween of a daughter says: “Oooh, more blue. It has a front thing and a side thing, that’s good.”
Record: 74-80, finished 5th in 8-team National League.
Did this team matter?: There’s a famous photo from 1936 that you’ve all seen. The photographer was Dorothea Lange and the photo’s title is “Migrant Mother”. There’s a woman with stress and worry plainly painted on her visage as she looks into a bleak horizon. Her right hand is tenderly touching the side of her face in a way that spells out a sense of helplessness better than 16,000 words possibly could. Two young children bury their faces into their mother’s shoulders while she sits stoically. The photo’s acclaim and exposure exploded almost overnight as the quintessential image of the Great Depression. So to recap, the Reds were a slightly below average team during the heart of the worst economic period in American life. There was an average of 6,100 fans in attendance per home game. This team did not matter.
Performances to remember: Put this in the category of “potentially baseless off-the-cuff generalizations”, but it seems to me that if you have a player that leads his team in both runs scored and runs batted in, you are probably not looking at a very good team. Kiki Cuyler, generally bouncing back and forth between hitting leadoff and in the #3 spot, led the 1936 Reds with 96 runs scored and 74 RBI. It wasn’t a particularly heroic season (.326/.380/.453, 130 OPS+), but it was pretty damn fine for a 37-year-old centerfielder. Not bad for a guy the Cubs had outright released in the middle of the 1935 season.
Wikipedia says: “In the middle of [September], Cincinnati would go on a nine game losing streak, eliminating their chance of finishing above .500.
Uniform notes: Red pants! This uniform iteration is the one in Reds history that looks the most like a high school or college team’s get-up.
My fashion-conscious, non-baseball-fan tween of a daughter says: “Ooooh, red pants. Yes. I like this one. It would be the best if it had a collar, too.”
In which 1930s Reds uniform did Paul Derringer look the most dapper?
This poll is closed