Somehow it just wouldn’t have been right that on Pete Rose Hall of Fame Weekend, honoring the both the “Hit King” and the 40th anniversary of the Big Red Machine’s 1976 World Championship team, for these rebuilding Cincinnati Reds to be swept four straight.
So say thanks to Anthony DeSclafani, the 26-year-old right-hander who is a centerpiece of the Reds’ renovation project, and who on Sunday pitched eight shutout innings and even drove in a run himself as the home team blanked the visiting San Diego Padres 3-0.
“What a lift to the team,” said Reds Manager Bryan Price afterward. “It lifts all of us.”
After all, the Reds had dropped three straight to the NL West cellar-dwelling Padres, falling 7-4 on Thursday, 13-4 on Friday and 3-0 on Saturday, the last two during events honoring the biggest winners in the history of baseball’s oldest franchise.
Friday night, an announced crowd of 40,713 visited Great American Ball Park to honor the 1976 team, which went 102-60 and swept both the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series and the New York Yankees in the World Series, for the Reds’ second consecutive world championship.
On Saturday afternoon, 40,871 showed up to watch Rose, the hometown hero and game’s all-time hit leader with 4,256, be officially inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame as he remains ineligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., thanks to his lifetime ban from the sport for gambling on the sport.
Sunday, to cap it off, the 75-year-old Rose had his No. 14 officially retired, joining Fred Hutchinson (1), Johnny Bench (5), Joe Morgan (8), Sparky Anderson (10), Barry Larkin (11) Dave Concepcion (13), Ted Kluszewski (18), Frank Robinson (20) and Tony Perez (24) as the 10th number retired by the franchise. Jackie Robinson’s number 42 has been retired by all teams in Major League Baseball.
During Saturday’s press conference and ceremony, Pete was Pete, funny, irreverent — he told one Cincinnati reporter to kiss his you know what — and talked about his love for the city and love of the game. Sunday, Rose seemed more sentimental, telling the crowd chanting “Pete!, Pete!, Pete!” that “You’re not going to make me cry,” then going out of his way to compliment the other former players sharing the stage.
Sadly, one was missing. Rose let it slip Saturday the reason for Morgan’s absence was that the Big Red Machine’s second baseman was awaiting a bone marrow transplant. The 72-year-old Morgan, who has experienced health problems since undergoing a knee replacement in 2014, did appear via videoboard from his home in San Francisco to congratulate Rose.
Meanwhile the current Reds, now 29-47, are hoping to develop some players like Morgan, Bench, Concepcion and Rose, who told Sunday’s pregame crowd, “There are guys in that dugout right now that could have their numbers (retired) some day.”
Cue DeSclafani (2-0 with a 1.52 ERA), who in his fourth start of the season since coming off the disabled list, allowed just five hits without walking a batter. No Padre reached second base, thanks in part to DeSclafani’s catch of Alexei Ramirez’s early break for second base in the first inning, Tucker Barnhart’s perfect throw that nailed Melvin Upton’s stolen base attempt in the second and DeSclafani’s pick-off of Upton in the fifth.
“He did a really nice job of changing his times to the plate,” Price said. “That’s the detail stuff that showed up today.”
Barnhart’s second-inning double scored Jose Peraza for the Reds’ first run. Jay Bruce’s 17th homer of the season made it 2-0 Reds in the fourth. With the bat in his hand, DeSclafani broke an 0-for-48 streak by Reds’ pitchers when he singled in Adam Duvall from third in the sixth inning for a 3-0 lead.
“Pitchers will take hits whenever they can get them, especially with runners on,” DeSclafani said.
And the Reds will take all the wins they can get, especially on a Hall of Fame weekend.
Said Rose, “I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, Cincinnati is the baseball capital of the world.”
Reds’ retired numbers
1—Fred Hutchinson: Was Reds’ manager from 1959 until 1964. Guided 1961 team to the National League pennant. Number was retired after he died from cancer on Nov. 12, 1964, at age 45.
5—Johnny Bench: Played for Reds from 1967 through 1983. Won National League MVP in 1970 and 1972. Member of National Baseball of Fame. Considered arguably the greatest catcher of all-time.
8—Joe Morgan: Played for Reds from 1972 through 1979. Was National League MVP in 1975 and 1976, years Reds won World Series. Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
10—Sparky Anderson: Served as Reds’ manager from 1970 through 1978. Won World Series title in 1976. Won a world championship as manager of Detroit Tigers in 1984. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
11—Barry Larkin: Cincinnati native played for Reds from 1986 through 2004. Won National League MVP in 1995. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
13—Dave Concepcion: Played for the Reds from 1970 through 1988. Considered one of the best fielding shortstops of all time.
14—Pete Rose: Cincinnati native played for Reds from 1963 through 1978, then was player-manager from 1984 until 1986. Is game’s all-time hits leader with 4,256. Voted National League MVP in 1973. Officially banned from baseball for gambling on the sport.
18—Ted Kluszewski: Played for Reds from 1947 through 1957. Hit 279 career home runs, including 49 with the Reds in 1954.
20—Frank Robinson: Played for Reds from 1956 through 1965 before being traded. Won National League MVP in 1961. (Won American League MVP with Baltimore in 1966.) Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
24—Tony Perez: Played for the Reds from 1964 through 1976, then again 1984 through 1986. Considered one of the best clutch hitters in franchise history. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
42—Jackie Robinson: The first black player in Major League Baseball, played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 through 1956. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. His number was retired throughout baseball on April 15, 1997.