Well, At this point, it’s technically 10,001 wins, which is a nice piece of palindromity, but I’m still celebrating 10,000, in part because I got on a research kick that really interested me.
Specifically, since the Reds won game # 10,000 on April 20, 2012, with pitcher Homer Bailey getting the win, what happened when the Reds won the other multiples-of-a-thousand wins? Who got wins #1000, #2000, and #3,000. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, and the miracle of baseball-reference/retro-sheet, in large part, we know.
#1,000 – 1896.
To start out by contradicting what I just said, I regret to inform you that I don’t really know a lot about the Reds 1000th win, including what pitcher got the win in the game. Here’s what I do know. The Reds’ 1000th W came on July 12, 1896, 14 years after the official count starts, and the Reds beat the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (later the Brooklyn Dodgers, and later… well, you know) with a score of 9-5. The starting pitcher was an appropriately named Red Ehret, who was born in Louisville, KY, and pitched for the Reds for two seasons. The 1896 Reds were player-managed by Hall-of-Famer Buck Ewing, and would go on to finish 77-50, only good for 3rd in the National League.
#2,000 – 1910:
Like the previous entry, I couldn’t find all of the information about this particular win, which came on May 26, 1910. It was pretty exciting, even assuming they didn’t know it was the franchise’s 2000th victory, as it came walk-off style against (you may be pleased to know) the St. Louis Cardinals, final score 7-6. George Suggs started the game, although it’s a reasonably fair bet that he didn’t get the win, as he only finished 5 of his 30 starts. Suggs was a pretty good pitcher that season, his wins, ERA, and WAR all placing him firmly in the top 10 of starting pitchers in the NL in 1910.
#3,000 – 1923:
Now here’s a game where the box score survives to the modern internet. Win 3,000 was on August 11, 1923, as the first game of a double-header against the Boston Braves. Rube Benton got the win in a complete game, though not necessarily in a manner you would consider particularly impressive, with a line of 9 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 0 K, allowing 6 runs, only 5 of them earned. Only his endurance and the Reds bats got him the win in the 10-6 slugfest. Benton’s a bit of an interesting story – he actually pitched for the Reds in that 1910 season, but was traded to the Giants in 1915. BR-Bullpen states that he had quite a reputation for drinking (apparently, so did Red Ehret), and was also briefly implicated in the Black Sox scandal (even though he was on the New York Giants).
#4,000 – 1938:
You can tell that this set of 1,000 wins did not come at a particularly good time for the Reds, as it took them a full 15 years to get from 3k to 4k, and over that time their record was 1,000-1223. The 1938 Reds are one of my favorite teams, as my grandfather was a fan then, and he can still name the entire lineup, even though he’s over 90 years old now, so it’s nice to know that the Reds were in the process of turning their luck around, with a pennant win in 1939, and a World Series Championship in 1940 just around the corner. Win #4,000 is the second on this list to come at the expense of the Brooklyn Dodgers, final score 6-4, on May 23, 1938. Even though the ’38 Reds boasted both Paul Derringer and Johnny Vander Meer, the winning pitcher that day was Gene Schott, in the final start of his career. Schott had been a solid starter for the Reds in 1937, but was moved to the bullpen pretty quickly the next season. He wasn’t particularly good in Win 4k, but was helped along by a 4-5, two double game by All-Star right fielder Ival Goodman, and 4 innings of hitless relief by Joe Cascarella.
#5000 – 1951
Win number 5,000 came on May 2, 1951, and was won (finally) by a pitcher who is otherwise significant to Reds history. Ah yes, Ewell Blackwell, is (e)well known on this blog for both his no-hitter, and his alleged racial-slur incident to follow it. In any case, Blackwell is still one of the best pitchers in Reds franchise history, so it’s not un-fitting that his name be attached to the team’s 5,000th win. 1951 was not Blackwell’s best year, and May 2 was not his best start during the year – but he still got the win, even though it was close. Going into the ninth inning, the Reds and Phillies were tied, 4-4, when Blackwell himself walked, starting a rally that would put the Reds up 6-4. Blackwell then walked the first batter in the bottom of the 9th, and Frank Smith replaced him, and allowed one run on a double play-RBI, but got out of it lead intact.
# 6,000 – 1963:
Not to be outdone, win # 6,000 was won by a Reds pitcher even more significant to franchise history than Blackwell, the unforgettable Joe Nuxhall, a man Reds fans are still grieving for, five years after his death. Obviously this was well-after Nuxhall’s famous debut, the not so ‘Ol lefthander was making a resurgence with the Reds in 1963, winning 15 games and pitching very well. Win 6,000 came on August 30 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a lineup that includes Reds greats like Rose, Pinson, and Frank Robinson. It was a bit of a pitcher’s duel, but an odd one, as Pirates starter Don Schwall left after two runs and only two outs, but those would be the only two runs the Reds would score, as Tommy Sisk came in and dominated the Reds for the next seven innings. But Nuxhall was great, and the Reds eked out their 6,000th win.
#7,000 – 1974
This 1000 wins was clearly during the heyday of the Reds, even if you didn’t know what era it came in, as it dragged the Reds overall W-L record back over the .500 line (from 6,000-6028, to 7,000-6820), that is, between wins 6,000 and 7,000, the Reds went 1,000-792. Not too shabs. Being that this is the Big Red Machine, you’ll recognize most of the starters from this September 26 game, if not the pitcher of record, Tom Hall. September of 1974 was pretty heartbreaking really, as this was game 3 of a six game winning streak that would bring us to only 2 games behind the L.A. Dodgers and the NL West title. Unfortunately, that was 2 games before the season was over, and we lost both the last two, and the Dodgers won both the last two.
#8,000 – 1986:
Win number 8,000 happened in the year of my birth, which may or may not be some kind of sign. Probably the best part of this win is that Pete Rose was the manager. Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge he is a huge part of Reds history, when you think that he was the lead-off hitter for win number 6,000, the leadoff hitter for win number 7,000, and the manager of win number 8000. The winning pitcher, Bill Gullickson, is probably not particularly memorable for Reds fans, but he pitched for the Expos for six seasons before coming to Cincinnati, and later won 20 games for Detroit in ’91. On September 2, 1986, though, he pitched a complete game, allowing only one run, which conveniently coincided with the Reds lineup putting the hurt on the Pittsburgh Pirates. That lineup is hilariously ’80s-y, which may just mean it’s one of the oldest periods where even the scrubs in the lineup are vaguely familiar to me, but still: Kal Daniels, Bo Diaz, Nick Esasky – classic.
#9000 – 1999
Since most of us remember what happened on April 20, 2012 pretty well, this will be the final entry. Although the ’99 Reds are more memorable for that October tragedy, win number 9,000 was much earlier in the season, May 29, with a 8-1 victory over the Florida Marlins. The game winner for the Reds was the very forgettable Jason Bere, who, after great rookie and sophomore seasons with the White Sox, was pretty un-good for teams all around the midwest for the next 8 seasons, which is sort of impressive really. Recently, Bere has been cited as being one of the luckiest pitchers ever, in terms of getting wins, compared to ERA. Barry Larkin started in this game as well as in win #8,000.
So, 13 years seems to be most common period of time it takes Reds to win 1,000 games, so by that reckoning, we’ll probably win #11,000 in about 2025. That’s the season after Joey Votto’s current contract is up, so it’s probably not that likely that we’ll see Rose or Larkin-style carryover from today’s roster. Still, it’s nice to dream.