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CINCINNATI REDLEGS
April 14, 1958
Speed, power, catching and a sharp defense can carry a club a long way—or just as far as the pitching will allow. The Reds have made some trades and they have some new pitchers who should produce. With a little help from the old ones, this is a team that could win a pennant
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April 14, 1958

Cincinnati Redlegs

Speed, power, catching and a sharp defense can carry a club a long way—or just as far as the pitching will allow. The Reds have made some trades and they have some new pitchers who should produce. With a little help from the old ones, this is a team that could win a pennant

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BASIC ROSTER

no.

player

position

1957 record

6

Ed Bailey

C

.261

7

Smoky Burgess

C

.283

10

Alex Grammas

IF

.303

11

Roy McMillan

SS

.272

12

Don Hoak

3B

.293

15

George Crowe

1B

.271

16

Johnny Temple

2B

.284

18

Steve Bilko

1B

minors

20

Frank Robinson

OF

.322

25

Gus Bell

OF

.292

30

Hersh Freeman

P

7-2

32

Harvey Haddix

P

10-13

35

John Klippstein

P

8-11

37

Bob Purkey

P

11-14

39

Joe Nuxhall

P

10-10

40

Tom Acker

P

10-5

42

Hal Jeffcoat

P

12-13

43

Willard Schmidt

P

10-3

46

Brooks Lawrence

P

16-13

47

Bill Wight

P

6-6

THE MANAGER
Praised to the sky when he almost won a pennant in 1956, reviled last year when he came in so far behind, Birdie Tebbetts (1) remains just what he is: a shrewd big league manager with a college degree in philosophy, a flair for handling ballplayers and a wonderfully glib Irish tongue. He was a smart, competent big league catcher for 13 years and in 1956, his third as a manager, was named the National League Manager of the Year. His coaches are the colorful veteran Jimmy Dykes (4), a big league manager himself for 17 years, who coaches first base, John Riddle (2), who was with the Milwaukee Braves last year, at third, and Tom Ferrick (3), who handles the pitchers.

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S REDLEGS

STRONG POINTS: Gone, along with' Kluszewski and Post, is the great power team of two years ago, but this does not concern the Reds too much. Frank Robinson, Ed Bailey, Gus Bell, George Crowe, Steve Bilko, Smoky Burgess and occasionally Don Hoak can still hit the long ball. And now the Redlegs feel they have the balance they lacked before in added defense and speed. The infield is perhaps the sharpest in all baseball with Johnny Temple at second, the incomparable Roy McMillan at short and Hoak at third. Robinson in left is one of the great young players of the game and Bell, in center or in right, is always steady. No team has a better catcher than big, strong, young Ed Bailey, and no reserve catcher around can hit like Burgess. Team speed is above average and the bench is loaded, with Burgess, Alex Grammas, who can fill in superbly around the infield and also do a good job at the plate, Crowe (batting left) and Bilko (right) to platoon at first base as well as supply pinch hitting along with Bob Thurman and Pete Whisenant.

WEAK SPOTS: The Redlegs, having traded Post, must find someone to fill his vacant right field spot. Tebbetts can platoon and get by with last year's cast (Jerry Lynch, Whisenant, Thurman), but this, while satisfactory perhaps, is not likely to produce anything sensational. The other solution is to give the job to one of the rookies, Don Morejon, or the 19-year-old Vada Pinson—who might indeed turn out to be sensational—at the spot. But the outfield problem is nothing compared to the big question mark hanging over the pitching staff. Brooks Lawrence is a winning pitcher and a very good one, and everyone knows what Harvey Haddix can do. Bob Purkey should also become a winner with a contending club. But last year's records show that Joe Nuxhall, Hal Jeffcoat, Tom Acker, John Klippstein and Hersh Freeman must perform an abrupt about-face. While the pitching could be quite good, as Tebbetts believes, no one is going to be convinced until they see it happen.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: Although the Reds would prefer to send Pinson out for some high minor league experience, this flashy youngster's blazing speed and formidable hitting may keep him on the big league roster. If so, he could settle the outfield problem for years to come. Stan Palys, despite his sensational year at Nashville (.359), has been up before and failed to make the grade. Out of a good-looking crop of rookie pitchers, the one who might help this year is a left-hander named Charley Rabe. Aside from rookies, there are plenty of new faces brought in by purchases and trades: Bilko, the former Card failure and Coast League hero who has had a great spring; Fondy, who may be considered surplus as a third first baseman; and the four pitchers, Haddix, Purkey, Bill Wight and Willard Schmidt.

THE BIG IFS: If the Reds are to win a pennant, Bailey must regain his heavy-hitting form of 1956 when he batted .300 and hit 28 home runs; Hoak must continue to hit as hard and as often as last year when he startled everyone with a 78-point boost in his average to .293; Crowe must recover completely from the leg injury which has hobbled him this spring, and Bilko prove that he can hit big league pitching with the authority he displayed in the minors. But most of all, the pitching staff must come through. If Freeman can again become the topflight relief man he was in '56 (he should) and either Willard Schmidt or Bill Wight give him some assistance in the bullpen, where the Reds were hurting so badly last year, this team could be very tough. Then should a couple of the other veterans—Nuxhall, Klippstein, Jeffcoat, Acker—prove capable of filling out the rotation, the Reds could go all the way. It is quite a bit to ask, but at least the potential is there.

THE VOICES
Waite Hoyt (58, knowledgeable), for 20 years one of the topflight pitchers in baseball (237 victories, 182 defeats with a 6-4 record in the World Series), turned naturally to radio work when his baseball career was over in 1938. While still pitching for the Yankees in the late '20s, Hoyt, the son of famed minstrel man Addison Hoyt, toured the Keith-Albee circuit as a singer with his own act. Now in his 16th season of broadcasting Redleg games, the popular Hoyt has become a Cincinnati institution. Using a slow, concise delivery, he adds a special player's touch to his objective reporting. GEORGE BRYSON (44, chattering), the No. 1 telecaster, was good enough semipro pitcher to be offered a Yankee contract when he was 23. But his arm went dead. He later had a screen test for a singing cowboy role but lost out to Roy Rogers. He jumped from Class D broadcasting to the Red-legs three seasons ago after only five games' experience on TV. Main criticism is over his extreme enthusiasm for the Reds.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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