POST CHRISTMAS POST
Before we get started with our “Post Chirstmas Post,” I want to recognize some of the great baseball people we lost over the last few days.
First, Reds Hall of Famer Jim O’Toole left us on Saturday at the age of 78.
Reds Hall of Fame Operations Manager Chris Eckes provided us this overview of O’Toole’s career:
A Chicago native who adopted Cincinnati as his hometown after spending nine of his ten Major League seasons as a Red, Jim O’Toole was a fixture at Reds events of all types and sizes throughout his post-playing career. No day was more special to Jim and his expansive family than Opening Day. Jim was the Reds starting pitcher in three Opening Day contests and won two of them. Each year, dozens of members of the O’Toole clan would attend the Reds’ first game of the season.
On December 26, 2015, Jim O’Toole lost his lengthy and courageous battle with cancer, passing away at his home a day after celebrating Christmas with his family. He was 78 years old.
One of the Reds’ top starting pitchers in the 1960s, O’Toole spent only one season in the minor leagues before making his Reds debut in September of 1958. He quickly developed into one of the anchors of a Reds pitching staff that became one of the game’s best.
A left-handed pitcher, O’Toole won at least sixteen games each season from 1961-1964, winning a career high nineteen in the Reds’ 1961 National League Championship season. O’Toole’s victory total ranked third in the National League in 1961 and his ERA of 3.10 was the league’s second best. His performance earned him the starting assignment in Game 1 of the 1961 World Series against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
The starting pitcher for the National League in the 1963 All-Star Game, O’Toole was a 17-game winner that season. He was a 17-game winner again in 1964, posting a career-best 2.66 ERA for a Reds team that finished two games short of winning its second pennant in four seasons.
O’Toole won 94 games over the course of his 1958 – 1966 Reds career, a total bested by only five left-handed pitchers in franchise history. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1970 in his first year of eligibility.
The baseball world also learned yesterday of the passing of long-time St. Louis sportswriter Joe Strauss. Joe lost his battle with leukemia at the age of 54. I’ll always remember Joe as a fixture in the Great American Ball Park pressbox when the Reds hosted the Cardinals.
Although I didn’t know Joe that well, I did appreciate his wit and wisdom and dry sense of humor; and he was always very kind and friendly to those of us in the Reds media relations department. I know for a fact there a several of us here in Cincinnati who are going to miss Joe.
Braves coach Bobby Dews and former big league star Dave Henderson also left us over the weekend.
My most vivid memory of Dews was watching him while I was on the Reds ground crew tirelessly hit fungos during batting practice. I don’t think I ever remember an image of Dews without a fungo bat in his hand. Dews was an icon in the Braves organization and Better Off Red sends its most sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans.
Gosh, how many Dave Henderson baseball cards did I have? Countless. That’s how I was first introduced to him and his unique smile. “Hendu” finally became a real person to me when I saw highlights of him hitting that improbable home run off Donnie Moore in the ALCS so long ago. He became a player to be wary of (and respected) when he joined the Athletics and squared off against our Reds in the 1990 World Series. It saddens me that he left us at the young age of 57. Better Off Red sends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of “Hendu.”
So many of us in and out of the game appreciate what all four of these guys contributed to our great sport and we won’t forget them. Rest in peace, fellas.
In happier news, Better Off Red gave you folks an additional few days to participate in the final day of the 2015 Umpteen Days of Christmas. Our final day randomly-selected winner is Patty Heitzman. She correctly answered that Gimbys and Macys were the competing department stores in the original Miracle on 34th Street.
Thanks to all of you who participated in the 2015 Umpteen Days of Christmas! It was fun and we had some great prizes to give away, thanks to all of the gracious departments in the Reds front office.
For those of you who haven’t made it out to the Holy Grail Banks for a Tuesday night filled with Reds Hot Stove League and Better Off Red Baseball Trivia action – you’re really missing out. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about…
This past Tuesday (the 22nd) after Marty and Thom hosted a live episode of the Reds Hot Stove League radio show and before we took the stage to begin BOR Baseball Trivia, a gentleman named Britt Denny requested a few minutes to propose to his girlfriend, Laura Kelch. It was our first live marriage proposal!
Laura is the daughter of Reds broadcaster Jim Kelch and I can promise you that Britt did indeed get permission from Jim before popping the question. It added to a great/memorable night at the Holy Grail Banks. I hope you’ll join us next Tuesday, January 5th for Reds Hot Stove League/BOR Baseball Trivia!
And here’s a photo of Tuesday’s night’s BOR Trivia participants…
That’s all for now. More in a bit.
Happy holidays and expect good news!