Ask Hal: ’75 Reds vs. ’90 Reds, who would win?

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: Would it be slick marketing by MLB if somehow Mike Yastrzemski played for Boston, Bo Bichette played for Colorado and Cavan Biggio played for Houston? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: You are referring to sons and grandsons playing for the same teams as their grandfathers and fathers. You forgot Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but his dad played mostly in Montreal and there is no team in Montreal. Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. both played in Cincinnati, but that was not MLB mandated, thank goodness. Don’t give Rob Manfred any ideas or he might come up with a Father-Son Mandatory Team rule.

Q: On paper, how do you think the 1975 Reds would do against the 1990 Reds in a seven-game series? — DON, Newark.

A: Any games played on paper, other than tic-tac-toe, are meaningless. A match-up of those two teams on the field would be awesome. Sparky Anderson vs. Lou Piniella would be epic. The Big Red Machine had three Hall of Famers in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, plus two who should be in Pete Rose and Dave Concepion. The ‘90 team’s only Hall of Famer is Barry Larkin, but Eric Davis would have been without so many injuries. Despite The Nasty Boys, the ‘75 team wins in six, with Jose Rijo winning two games for the ‘90 team. That’s my pick and I’m sticking to it.

Q: How is it that shortstop Jose Iglesias has a history of being released and not even traded, despite being an excellent player? —DENNIS, Huber Heights.

A: That one is a head-shaker to me. He is a dazzling defender, one of the best I’ve seen. He is not a problem-child and was an outstanding clubhouse guy with the Reds. His slash line with the Reds in 2019 was .288/.318/.407 with 11 homers and 59 RBI. And he was clutch. But the Reds let him walk into free agency. And that’s his history. He has played for Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Los Angeles Angels, Boston again and now Colorado. He has been traded only once and released only once. He has been signed as a free agent four times. Maybe his problem is that he has had four different agents.

Q: Does it appear that broadcaster Jeff Brantley is not a big fan of shortstop Kyle Farmer as he never seems to compliment him and often mentions how he is looking forward to Jose Barrero playing shortstop? — JIM, West Carrollton.

A: I am a huge fan of Brantley for his insights and his blunt honesty. There is no sugar-coating. I don’t get to hear him that much but have not noticed any anti-Farmer leanings. I, too, look forward to seeing Barrero, because of his huge upside. But Farmer is a true gamer and a more-than-adequate shortstop. As Brantley might say, “Farmer’s play at shortstop is right down Broadway.”

Q: Has there ever been an athlete play in the NBA, NFL and MLB? — LaVONNE, Detroit.

A: There have been several play in two, but none in three, like Gene Conley (NBA, MLB), Dave DeBusschere (NBA, MLB), Ron Reeds (MLB, NBA), Bo Jackson (NFL, MLB) and Deion Sanders (NFL, NBA). Two names come to mind who could have done it with all three. Dave Winfield was drafted by the MLB (Padres), NBA (Hawks) and NFL (Vikings) and he chose baseball. Jackie Robinson, the first African American in major-league baseball, was a superstar at UCLA in baseball, basketball (shooting guard) and football (running back). But anybody who tried all three would be physical and mental wrecks after one season.

Q: What are your memories of Harvey’s Wallbangers? — CYNDYE, Dayton.

A: Do you mean the adult beverage, a Harvey Wallbanger invented by world-class mixologist Duke Antone (no relation to Reds pitcher Tejay Antone) in 1952 or the 1980′s jazz group, Harvey & The Wallbangers? Since this is a baseball column, I assume you the mean 1982 Milwaukee Brewers. Before you had the Brew Crew, you had Harvey’s Wallbangers, a clever name because the manager was Harvey Kuehn and the team banged a lot of home runs. Kuehn took over the job from fired Buck Rodgers in early June of 1982. He led them to a 72-43 record and the division title. Harvey’s Wallbangers had six players hit more than 23 homers — Gorman Thomas (39), Ben Ogilvie (34),Cecil Cooper (32), Robin Yount (29), Jim Ganter (26), Ted Simmons (23). In addition, Paul Molitor hit 19 and Don Money hit 16. Those guys were the true meaning of, “You hang ‘em, we bang ‘em.”

Q: Why did the umpires force Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft to remove his wedding ring when it was on his glove hand? — MARGOT, St. Paul, Minn.

A: The no rings rule has been on the books for a long time but hasn’t been enforced until umpires were told the day before Ashcraft pitched to enforce it during their between-innings checks on pitchers for foreign substances. The rule prevents pitchers from using rings to cut the baseballs and throw real cutters. There is another unenforced rule. No necklaces. If they enforce that one, half the jewelers in America will go out of business.

Q: Is it true that Hall of Famer Edd Roush fell asleep in the outfield during a game? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: On June 8, 1920, the Reds center fielder was ejected for taking a nap against the New York Giants in the Polo Grounds. He dozed off while his manager argued lengthily with the umpires. He was ejected for holding up play when he did not wake up when play resumed. With the way Reds manager David Bell constantly changes pitchers, I’m surprised the entire outfield doesn’t nod off to avoid the nightmares about to happen.

Q: When you traveled with the Reds, did you play pick-up tennis matches with any players, coaches or broadcasters and who was the toughest competition? — GREG Beavercreek.

A: Mostly, I had courts and clubs in every city and regular partners I’d call when I was in town. Sometimes I’d just wander out to the courts and hope to pick up a game. I did have regular matches with former player and Phillies broadcaster Richie Ashburn. Reds athletic trainer Larry Starr and team broadcaster Bill Brown were regulars with me. I played some with former player Merv Rettenmund and former Reds GM Murray Cook and his assistant, Branch Rickey III. I had one unforgettable match with Paul O’Neill, who used to hit with touring pro Jim Courier. That should have warned me. I was proud to win one game in a 6-1, 6-0 slaughter.

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