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Archive for June 21st, 2011

Aside from Murders Row, no other baseball team nickname has been as evocative and, perhaps intimidating, as the Big Red Machine label placed upon Sparky Anderson’s Cincinnati ballclub.

According to most accounts, the Reds were given their colorful nickname by a Cincinnati Enquirer sportswriter named Bob Hertzel. However, the name was introduced in the summer of 1969, before the team was anything but big and not exactly a machine. In fact, before the 1970 season, the Reds had won only one pennant in the previous 29 seasons.

Even though it may have been a bit presumptuous at the time, the organization ran with the Big Red Machine moniker, even going so far as to issue a team Christmas card featuring a caricature of new manager Anderson driving a tractor. “Holiday Greetings from the Big Red Machine”, the card read.

Entering 1970, the Reds were brimming with confidence, and not long after the season began, every other National League team understood why. In April, Anderson’s Reds burst out of the gate with a 16-6 record and never looked back. By the All Star break, they were 10 games up in the standings and coasting to the franchise’s first pennant since 1961. After years of underperforming expectations, Anderson had his ballclub running like a well-oiled machine…a Big Red one in fact.

The Reds lost the 1970 World Series to the Baltimore Orioles, but after missing the playoffs in 1971, bounced back to win four NL West titles, three pennants and two World Series over the next five years. The team’s two championships occurred in 1975 and 1976 (the latter a sweep over the Yankees), making the Big Red Machine the first National League team to repeat since the 1921-1922 New York Giants.

The Big Red Machine

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