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The Pride of the Reds – Tom Terrific and Johnny Bench

July 30, 2009
Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench Cincinnati Reds 1982 Donruss No. 628

Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench Cincinnati Reds 1982 Donruss No. 628

While much of the mid 1980s were absolutely abysmal for the Cincinnati Reds one shining point of pride came in the form of their Hall of Fame battery.

Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench teamed up from 1977 to 1982 to help the Reds stay competitive as the Big Red Machine was dismantled around them.

Seaver pitched the first no-hitter and only of his career as well as the first at Riverfront Stadium on June 16, 1978 at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The hurler was acquired the previous June in a trade with the New York Mets in exchange for Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, Doug Flynn and Dan Norman following a messy contract renegotiation with the Mets’ management.

During his first season with the Reds in 1977, Seaver won 21 games including 14 following the trade. He was a close runner-up to Fernando Valenzuela for the 1981 Cy Young Award, a year in which he was 14-2. Seaver was selected to the National League All-Star team as a Red in 1977, 78 and 81.

Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench Cincinnati Reds 1982 Donruss No. 628

Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench Cincinnati Reds 1982 Donruss No. 628

While Pete Rose, Sparky Anderson, George Foster, Joe Morgan and Ken Griffey Sr. left the Reds, Seaver, Bench and the remaining holdovers  from the Big Red Machine stayed near the top of the National League’s Western Division. Following a pair of second place showings in 1977 and 78, the Reds made it to the National League Championship Series in 1979. They ended up being swept by the eventual world champion Pittsburgh Pirates in three games.

During what turned out to be the 1981 strike shortened season, Cincinnati finished 35-21 during the first half of the season, second in the old National League West, and 31-31 in the second half. Overall despite having the best record in baseball that season, the Reds missed the playoffs because they did not finish in first place during either part of the season.

Seaver struggled during his final season in the Queen City and finished with a  5-13 record. He was traded after the season back to the New York Mets for Charlie Puleo, Lloyd McClendon and Jason Felice.

Bench went on to retire following the 1983 season. In the final three seasons of his career he primarily played third and first bases because of knee problems.

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