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The Reds Great Shortstop Battle – Kurt Stillwell 1986 Topps

September 3, 2015
Kurt Stillwell 1986 Topps Traded

Kurt Stillwell 1986 Topps Traded No,104T. Stillwell was nicknamed Opie by Pete Rose

Back in the 1980s the Cincinnati Reds had a big decision to make at shortstop. Earlier in the decade, they used two high first round draft picks on the position.

Kurt Stillwell and Barry Larkin had both made it to the the big leagues as the Reds two top prospects by 1987 and the Reds needed to select one to take over for nine-time All-Star to Dave Conception.

Stilwell was selected with the second overall pick in the 1983 draft – the highest pick ever for the franchise. Larkin was the hometown son, picked in the first round of the 1985 with the fourth overall selection.

The decision in front of the Reds was similar to the Ohio State quarterback battle of 2015 between JT Barrett and Cardale Jones. The team seemingly could not go wrong no matter who they tapped to be the shortstop of the future.

In 1987, Larkin grabbed the favor of manager Pete Rose and started 115 games at shortstop, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Stillwell meanwhile started 46 games at shortstop, 34 at second base and 13 at third base. The previous season, Stillwell played in 80 games at shortstop.

While the Reds moved Stillwell around the infield, they never considered him to be strong enough offensively to switch positions, then Cincinnati General Manager Murray Cook told the Enquirer in 2012. Cincinnati already had Buddy Bell at third base and Ron Oester at second base despite an ACL injury.

Following the season, Cook traded Stillwell to the Kansas City Royals along with Ted Power, both favorites of owner Marge Schott, for starting pitcher Danny Jackson and relief pitcher Angel Salazar.

Stillwell was relieved to be out of Cincinnati where he didn’t feel like he was has treated fairly in the Queen City. He told the Enquirer at the time that there was a lack of communication.

The deal worked out well for Stillwell initially. He was named an American League All-Star in 1988 and played in the game that was held at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. However he struggled to live up to the expectations of being the second overall draft pick.

Jackson went from 18 losses in 1987 to a National League high 23 wins the year after the trade. He finished second in the NL Cy YOung race and helped the Reds win the World Series in 1990.

Stillwell went on to play for the San Diego Padres, Califonia Angels and Texas Rangers before retiring following the 1996 season.

He then became a player agent with Scott Boras and helped land Washington National outfielder Bryce Harper for the firm, according to the Enquirer.

The trade opened the way for Larkin to become the face of the franchise and a hall of fame career.


Former Reds Friday – Cesar Geronimo 1984 Topps

August 28, 2015
Cesar Geronimo 1984 Topps Kansas City Royals.

Cesar Geronimo’s 1984 Topps card with the Kansas City Royals was released after he retired.

Known for his defensive prowess, Cesar Geronimo was one of the last members of the Big Red Machine to depart Cincinnati for another team.

Geronimo won four Gold Gloves from 1974-77 as the Reds won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.

However as the Big Red Machine was being disassembled and his offensive production slipped below .240, Geronimo lost his starting job to Dave Collins, according to the Associated Press. He was relegated to the role of a defensive replacement and appeared in only 103 games and 162 plate appearances.

Geronimo was dropped from the Reds 40 man roster following the 1980 season after the signing of free agent of Larry Bittner.

The Reds eventually shipped him to the Kansas City Royals for minor league outfielder German Barranca.

During three seasons with the Royals, Geronimo came off the bench as the team’s fifth outfielder and didn’t appear in more than 59 games per season, according the 1983 Topps Blog.

His stint in Kansas City did allow Geronimo to escape the Reds’ no facial policy and he responded with one thick mustache.

Geronimo was released by the Royals after the 1983 season, which ended up being 15th and final Major League campaign.

Interestingly, Geronimo’s 1984 Topps card featured above was released after he retired.

After retiring, he worked for the Japanese Hiroshima Carp ball club as a coach at its baseball academy in his native Dominican Republic.

Geronimo was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2008.

Andy McGaffigan Nearly Traded Into A Palindrome

August 20, 2015
Andy McGaffigan 1985 Fleer with the Cincinnati Reds.

Andy McGaffigan 1985 Fleer with the Cincinnati Reds.

One of Topps’ infamous airbrush cards. Andy McGaffigan with a moustache and in a Reds jersey. Cincinnati banned facial hair until 1999. Photo courtesy of the Trading Card Database.

Trades are a part of professional sports. Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Andy McGaffigan was no stranger to being moved from team-to-team, except when he was dealt it occurred in a unique order with some familiar stops along the way.

McGaffigan was traded five times between just four teams. The right hander spent 11 seasons in the majors, although from 1982 to 1990 he might felt he was on some weird marry-go-round.

He broke into the big leagues in 1981 with the New York Yankees, however he didn’t stay with the Bronx Bombers for long. The following March, he was dealt to the San Francisco Giants along with outfielder Ted Wilborn for pitcher Doyle Alexander.

After two seasons in San Fran, the last as a part-time starter, he was dealt to Montreal in March 1984 to complete the trade that sent Al Oliver to the Giants. He didn’t stay in Montreal very long either, on July 26, 1984 he was traded to Cincinnati along with a minor league pitcher for first baseman Dan Driessen.

McGaffigan’s arrival in Cincinnati was delayed because his wife was two weeks overdue with the couple’s first child, according to an interview with the Royal Curve blog. Then-Cincinnati general manager Woody Woodward told his new pitcher to join the team after the birth. The pitcher made it to Cincinnati five days after the trade.

The fourth stop in the big leagues brought McGaffigan to the team that first drafted him in the 36th round of the 1974 amateur draft.

The deal also occurred 20 days before another deal between the Expos and Reds that marked the return of Pete Rose to the Queen City in a new role of player.

During his second season with the Reds organization he played with the AAA Denver Zephyers for more that half the season. He was called up in late July and started 15 games the rest of the season as the Reds went 82-79 and finished in second place in the National League West division.

Despite the late season performance, McGaffigan was not in Cincinnati’s long-term plans and was shipped him back to Montreal along with Dann Bilardello, John Stuper and Jay Tibbs in exchange for starting pitcher Bill Guillickson and catcher Sal Butera.

McGaffigan was finally able to get comfortable in his second stint with Montreal. He spent four seasons with the Expos. That is until they traded him back to San Francisco just three days before the start of the 1990 season for a player to be named later.

The Florida native retired in 1991 after bouncing between the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers.

Today McGaffigan is a financial planner in Lakeland, Florida.

Paul Konerko Briefly A Cincinnati Red

September 25, 2014
1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #24 - Paul Konerko - Courtesy of

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #24 – Paul Konerko – Courtesy of

Paul Konerko wraps up a splendid career this weekend with the Chicago White Sox. However its hard not to image what would have happened if Konerko’s brief stint with the Cincinnati Reds would have lasted much longer.

Konerko came and left Cincinnati in 1998 as a part of then-general manager Jim Bowden’s more infamous trades. The Reds acquired the infielder along with relief pitcher Denny Reyes from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for relief pitcher Jeff Shaw.

That trade ruffled many feathers in the Queen City because Shaw, who was the Reds’ only all-star was traded just days before the mid-summer classic. Shaw actually made his Dodger debut in the all star game. Second baseman Bret Boone was a late addition to the roster to give Cincinnati a representative in the game.

Following the trade, Konerko was sent to the Reds’ AAA affiliate Indianapolis Indians where he appeared in 39 games before being called up in September. Once with the Reds’ he appeared in 26 games and hit .219 with 3 homers in 81 at-bats.

However at the time, the Reds had a crowded infield with Sean Casey at first and Willie Green, Pokey Reese and a young Aaron Boone at third.

Just a little more than four months after the trade, Konerko was on the move again. This time, he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfielder Mike Cameron.

The trade gave the White Sox a pillar of their franchise for the next 16 seasons and helped propel them to the 2005 World Series championship. While playing with the South Siders, he appeared in more than 2,200 games, hit .281 and more than 432 home runs.

Cameron also had a brief stint in Cincinnati. During the 1999 season, Cameron hit .256 with 21 homers and 66 RBIs in his season with the Reds before he was dealt to Seattle along with Jake Meyer, Antonio Perez and Brett Tomko in exchange for Ken Griffey Jr.

Swapping Griffey for Cameron helps make the Konerko not a total bust for the Reds. However it is still tough to shallow. 

Andrew Wiggins Makes A Uni Cameo in Cleveland

August 7, 2014
Andrew Wiggins as a Cleveland Cavaliers on the first officially licensed NBA Rookie Cards for the 2014-15 season. Photo: Panini

Andrew Wiggins as a Cleveland Cavaliers on the first officially licensed NBA Rookie Cards for the 2014-15 season. Photo: Panini

For a few weeks this summer it appeared that Andrew Wiggins would be one of the key building blocks to help bring the Cleveland Cavaliers back to respectability in the NBA. It turns out we was simply making a uni cameo.

Wiggins is expected to be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with the 2013 top draft pick Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first round draft pick in exchange for Kevin Love.

A uni cameo is a term coined by Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch.

Uni cameos are nothing new for the Cavs. Back in 1987, future all-star Kevin Johnson played part of season in Cleveland before being traded to the Phoenix Suns. Then Shaquille O’Neal suited up for a year near the end of his career in the final year of James’ first stint in Cleveland.

Wiggins’ situation is different than these other Cavs’ uni cameos. He did play in the NBA’s Summer League for Cleveland, however as long as the trade goes through in a few weeks, this uni cameo will be more like Kobe Bryant with the Charlotte Hornets.

Fortunately for Bryant, he did not not to have to go through this awkward ESPN interview. Despite the cringe factor with questions about his future, we get to see another Wiggins rookie card with the Cavs.

Andrew Wiggins with another Panini rookie card during what turned out to be an awkward ESPN interview. Photo: Deadspin

Andrew Wiggins with another Panini rookie card during what turned out to be an awkward ESPN interview. Photo: Deadspin

Archie Griffin in the USFL

November 25, 2012
Archie Griffin with the Jacksonville Bulls of the USFL in 1985
USFL Virtual Football cards
created by Bill Jones and Willie O’Burke.

Archie Griffin will always be remembered for his years with Ohio State and some might even remember his NFL days with the Cincinnati Bengals, however his comeback attempt is often forgotten.

Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, signed with the Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League (USFL) for the 1985 season, after he was released by the Bengals following the 1983 season.

The Bulls signed Griffin to be the featured back in coach Lindy Infante’s offense, however he was quickly displaced on the depth chart when the Bulls signed another Heisman Trophy winning running back Mike Rozier.

Rozier had opted for the big money the USFL was offering over the NFL and signed a three-year $3 million contract with the Pittsburgh Maulers in 1984 out of college.

At the time, the USFL featured four Heisman Trophy winners. The other two winners Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie both played for the New Jersey Generals.

With the younger Rozier on the roster, Griffin, who was limited to 11 yards rushing on 10 carries and four receptions for 25 yards after just seven games, decided to retired from football.

Perhaps, Griffin would have faired better with the Tampa Bay Bandits for no other reason than the team’s uniforms were a direct copy of Ohio State’s jerseys minus the helment logo.

Ohio Glory brought pro football to The Shoe

February 9, 2012
Babe Laufenberg
World League of American Football Virtual Football Cards featuring Ohio GLory players Babe Laufenberg (top), Amir Rasul (middle) and Greg Frey (bottom).

Cards created by Bill Jones and Willie O’Burke.

The Ohio Glory jerseys featured a jersey patch for Amerifloria ’92, an international l horticultural exhibition held in Columbus.

View the entire WLAF virtual set.

Amir Rasul
Greg Frey

Outside of a series of NFL exhibition games between and the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, which were dubbed the Woody Hayes Bowl, professional football did not have a home in Ohio Stadium until 1992.

The Ohio Glory, playing in the second year of the World League of American Football (WLAF), became the first professional football team to call The Shoe home.

The Glory came into existence when the Raleigh–Durham Skyhawks folded after going winless during the 10 game 1991 season. Unfortunately, Ohio only managed to slightly improve on that record with just one win.

The World League, played a spring schedule and was supported by the NFL. The league featured innovations such as helmet radios for quarterback to receive play calls from the sideline, video cameras mounted inside helmets, and the two point conversion.

The league suspended operations following the 1992 season due to financial problems and the inability to obtain further funding from NFL owners. Three years later, the league resurfaced exclusively in Europe and would eventually become known as NFL Europe.

With head coach Larry Little, an offensive guard who was a member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, at the helm the Glory’s only win came at Ohio Stadium against one of its international foes. The team defeated the Frankfurt Galaxy 20-17 in week seven.

At the beginning of the season, Ohio’s offense was led by the team’s top draft pick and former NFL quarterback Babe Laufenberg, The former Indiana Hoosier played in the NFL for the Washington Redskins, the New Orleans Saints, the San Diego Chargers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Despite all this experience, his biggest claim to fame was being Troy Aikman’s backup with the Cowboys. During his seven years in the league, he passed for five touchdowns, seven interceptions, including four in a game, and 1,057 yards.

His backups were Pat O’Hara and former Ohio State quarterback Greg Frey.

O’Hara was the team’s leading passer, however he found more success as a cast member of numerous football movies including Any Given Sunday and The Waterboy, according to the World League of American Football fan site. He was also a crew member on The Longest Yard (2005) and We Are Marshall.

Two members of the Glory went on to earn roster spots in the NFL. Punter Tom Rouen played for five teams through the 2005 season.

Linebacker George Koonce immediately become a starter with the Green Bay Packers, which he held for eight seasons.

A gallery of Ohio Glory memorabilia is also available through the World League of American Football fan site.