As we wait with bated breath to find out who will be appearing at next month’s RedsFest (the day the list is revealed is seriously one of our favorite days of the year here at OMGReds.com) … we thought it’d be fun to think about unexpected appearances from former Reds.
And while you might dream about getting John Bench or Tony Perez or even Junior, we hate to break it to you but it’s not going to happen. Josh Hamilton also isn’t going to feel bad that he didn’t stick around in Cincinnati longer and make it up to fans by showing up at RedsFest. No, I prefer to celebrate and embrace former Reds who never quite lived up to expectations. And here are some of the cards (we have a million of) that we’d love to get signed if any of these guys did show up.
Ah yes, the Reds were high on Greene when he made his Major League debut Sept. 1, 1992 at age 20, three years after he was the Pirates’ first pick in the 1989 draft. In fact, he spent the majority of his career with the Reds before he was dealt to Baltimore in ’98 for Jeffrey Hammonds (who, by the way, we would also love to see at RedsFest). Greene had less than 200 at-bats with the Reds between 1992 and 1995 and spent most of those seasons hitting for power but not really for average in Indianapolis, which was also what plagued him when he became the Reds’ everyday third baseman. But did you know this guy hit 19 homers in 287 at-bats in ’96, and then 26 homers and 91 RBI in just under 500 at-bats in ’97!
The second overall pick in the 1988 June amateur draft (by the Cleveland Indians) had not one but two stints with the Reds … and he’s from Hamilton! C’mon, tell me half of Hamilton wouldn’t turn out to see the guy who was 1988 Gatorade High School Baseball Player of the Year for the Big Blue? Even hard-core Reds fans seem to have already forgotten Game 3 of the 1995 National League Division Series against the Dodgers, when Lewis hit the first pinch-hit grand slam in postseason history. And he hit .339 in 171 at-bats for the Reds that season. (He was .254/6/28 with the Reds in ’99.) The guy was seriously an unsung contributor to the ’95 team that until a few weeks ago was the most recent to make the playoffs. Time to give him some love.
The Reds’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the ’91 draft, Reese could fly and field but not enough of the other stuff. But it suddenly looked like the sky was the limit for Reese during his career year in ’99 (which coincided with an outstanding Reds’ campaign that season, of course). He hit .285 with 38 stolen bases (fifth best in the NL) and won his first of back-to-back Gold Gloves for the Reds. But he came back to Earth in 2000 when he hit .255, and even more so in 2001 when he hit .224. He was traded in Dec. 2001 with Dennys Reyes to the Rockies for Luke Hudson and Gabe White, dealt the next day by the Rockies to Boston for Scott Hatteberg and granted free agency two days after that. He signed with the Pirates and spent a couple of disappointing seasons in Pittsburgh and another one with the Red Sox, never regaining that ’99 form (though he did win a title with the BoSox in ’04). Sure has been through a lot off the field too, for sure, as explained in this Boston Globe article.
This fourth-round pick of the Reds in 1992 bounced back and forth between Cincinnati and Indianapolis so much that his nickname was “I-74.” But we find his 1996 numbers with the Reds fascinating. He hit just .200 in 205 at-bats, but he managed to steal 16 bases. 41 hits, 23 walks, 16 stolen bases! He always had the green light (he stole 33 in 1999 and 29 in 2000 for the Padres) and made a nice career for himself as a very poor man’s Dave Collins (speaking of whom, he definitely doesn’t fit in the category for this post, but how about inviting D.C. to RedsFest!)
The Reds’ first-round pick (14th overall) in the ’97 draft and – by all accounts – a bona fide slugger at LSU, Larson played his entire four-year MLB career with the Reds from 2001-2004. Which amounted to .179/8/37 over those parts of four seasons. But don’t worry, Brandon, you’ve got plenty of company as far as BUSTY first-round picks by the Reds in the 1990s. Yes, we’re looking at you, John Oliver, C.J. Nitkowski, Pat Watkins, Chad Mottola and Ty Howington.