by Harold Friend
The 1976 Cincinnati Reds were one of the most dominating offensive teams of all time. They led the National League in every major category, some by a wide margin.
The Reds batted .280, scored 857 runs, had a .357 on base average, and slugged .424.
They led the National League in doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, walks, strikeouts, and stolen bases.
Four Future Hall of Famers
Four future Hall of Famers, second baseman Joe Morgan, catcher Johnny Bench, third baseman Pete Rose, and first baseman Tony Perez were on the team, although Rose has become ineligible to be placed on the Hall of Fame voters' ballot.
Eight Outstanding Starting Players
The outfield of Ken Griffey, Cesar Geronimo, and George Foster was solid, and some believe that shortstop David Concepcion belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Among the eight starters, only Johnny Bench (.234) and Tony Perez (.260) failed to hit at least .300. Ken Griffey led the team with a .336 batting average, and George Foster led with 29 home runs and 121 RBIs.
The Cincinnati Reds' pitching was considered merely adequate in 1976, but the passage of time and the appreciation of statistical measurements have resulted in a greater appreciation of the Reds' staff.
The National League's 1976 ERA was 3.51. The Reds' team ERA was also 3.51.
As top winner Gary Nolan said,
"Our pitching staff doesn't have any Tom Seavers, Catfish Hunters, or Walter Johnsons. But you've got guys who play every day like Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose, who's probably the greatest ball player I've ever seen."
Seven Pitchers Won at Least 11 Games
Gary Nolan was the top winner with 15 wins, followed by Rookie of the Year Pat Zachary with 14 wins.
Five other hurlers (Fred Norman, Jack Billingham, Santo Alcala, Don Gullet, and relief specialist Rawly Eastwick) each won at least 11 games.
While there was no real ace, the depth in pitching and the great offense was more than enough to produce a World Championship.
A Playoff Sweep
The 1976 Reds won 102 games to finish a comfortable 10 games ahead of the second place Dodgers. In the Eastern Division, the Philadelphia Phillies won 101 games to finish nine games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Reds easily swept the Phillies in the playoffs, which consisted of only a best of five series.
The American League Champion New York Yankees
The New York Yankees won the American League pennant on a dramatic, game-ending, playoff series ending home run by Chris Chambliss. It was the first Yankees' pennant since 1964.
Cincinnati Was Confident
The Reds expected to have little trouble with the Yankees. Chief scout Ray Shore didn't think the Yankees could win more than one game.
"If we lose more than one game in the World Series, I will be disappointed. In every category, we have the edge.
We hit better, with more power: run better, field better. And in pitching, with Don Gullet as sound as he is, the worst we come off is at a standoff with New York."
Reds' manager Sparky Anderson and third baseman Pete Rose took the offensive.
Sparky told reporters that, "It's not a question of whether our pitching can stop them. It's a question of whether they, or anybody, can stop us."
The great Pete Rose, when asked if the Yankees' legend worried him, he responded in typical Pete Rose fashion.
"No, because we think we have a legend here in Cincinnati. Does it worry them?"
After the Sweep
After the Reds swept the Yankees, Joe DiMaggio, who played on some teams that swept the opposition in the World Series, and Red Schoendienst, who played on the 1946 World Champion Cardinals and 1957 World Champion Milwaukee Braves, and managed the 1967 World Champion Cardinals, summed up the Reds' sweep.
Joe DiMaggio didn't mince words.
"A helluva team. They do everything. They hit the ball. They run. They are tough on the field. From the top of the order to the bottom, they can hurt you."
Red Schoendienst agreed.
"You make one mistake against a team like that and you're gone. If you check their power, they'll run you to death. You check their running, some guy will hit one out in the bottom of the ninth."
The Phillies and Yankees Didn't Have a Chance
The 1976 Reds had adequate pitching, a decent but not outstanding bench, and one of the greatest starting eight players that any team put on the field. The Phillies and Yankees never had a chance.
By JOSEPH DURSO Special to The New York Times. (1976, October 16). Cincinnati All-Round Club :Cincinnati All-Round Club. ' New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 1. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 284658902).
Red Smith :History With an Asterisk. (1976, October 17). New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 165. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 79787945).
By JOSEPH DURSO. (1976, October 22). Talk of the Series :Pure, No-Frills Talent Key to Reds' Success Talk of the Series . New York Times (1857-Current file),24. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 86373170).