This would be the last hurrah for the “Big Red Machine”, who had a glorious runs during the decade of Big Hair and Plastic Grass (google that to find a gr8 blog). The Reds won 2 championships (75 & 76), 4 pennants (70, 72, 75, 76) and 6 division title (70, 72, 73, 75, 76, 79). This was the end of a great run with a core group that was dwindling and or aging. The Reds edged out the upstart Astros by a game and a half to win the NL West crown for their new skip John MacNamara (Sparky was fired in 78, which many see as a huge mistake). The Reds were 10 1/2 games out on the 4th of July and written off as too old, but they put together a great run to get even with Houston by late August, then battled down to the wire to take the flag despite losing 2 of 3 to the Astros in the final week of the season. Bench, Foster and Griffey had their typical above average years, but the real star on this team was a young Ray Knight, who had the pressure of the world on his shoulders having to replace the great Pete Rose who signed with the Phillies as a free agent. Knight hit .318 with 10 homers and 79 RBI’s. He came in 5th in the MVP voting that season, which must have given him great pride. He was also a better fielder than Rose, who was merely a hitter occupying the hot corner, albeit a darn great hitter.
Editor’s Note: I had a lot of fun colorizing the Harry Spilman card. The rest of the images came from Tony and his OOTP buds. I was ecstatic when I found that awesome Frank Pastore shot and couldn’t wait to add it to a card, but then I got to reading the bio on the site that I found it on “Find A Grave”. Turns out Frank, who was a Christian Radio host died due to head trauma in December 2012 (a year ago) due to a motor cycle crash. Reading this really brought me down. You hate losing your cardboard heroes, but it’s even worse when its this tragic and when it happens to a genuinely nice guy who was only 55 years old.