|Under the helm of new Reds' manager Luke Sewell the Reds got off to their worst start since the 1934 season. |
After dropping 13 of its first 17 games, the anxiety to win played a big-role in Sewell's decision to platoon his players. He believed his players were capable of playing much better ball and was trying to build for the future.
He managed the St Louis Browns to their first ever pennant in 1944, in his 3rd year as manager, and was a coach for Cincinnati last year (1949) before taking over as interim manager near the end of the season.
Sewell figured the team could play winning ball and so he relied on power-hitting, first baseman Ted Kluzewski, shortstop Virgil Stallcup, popular third baseman Grady Hattan and second baseman Connie Ryan, who they acquired from the Boston Braves in mid-season to propel the Reds upwards.
Only four players had over 400 at-bats in 1950 under Sewell's platooning - slugger Ted Kluzewski, .307 BA, 37Ds, 25Hr, 111 RBIs, outfielder John Wyrostek, .285 BA, 34Ds, 8Hr, 76 RBIs, Grady Hatton, .260 BA, 17Ds, 11Hr, 54 RBIs, and Virgil Stallcup, .251 BA, 23Ds, 8Hr, 54 RBIs.
Mired in last place throughout the early months of the season, a surge of power took hold and from June 15 to the end of season the team played winning baseball. They rose to finish sixth in the then eight team National League with a 66-87 record. This was a testimonial to the winning attitude and team spirit under the sound guidance of Sewell.
In early June Sewell talked over strategy with coaches Danny Litwhiler, Tony Cuccinello and Phil Page along with infielders Grady Hatton and Virgil Stallcup to see how the team could 'rev up their engine.' It was decided a lefty against lefty batting strategy among outfielders would be employed and infielder Bobby Adams and rookie shortstop Sammy Meeks would play more to shore-up a sometimes leaky infield defense.
* Bobby Adams, Infielder RH - played second, short or third equally well and was a solid hitter, and one of the fastest men on the squad. His seven stolen bases led the team as did his eight triples. Adams saw action in 115 games, batted .282, lined 21 doubles, 8Ts and 7Hrs, and scored 57 times - 4th best on the team in 1950.
* John Wyrostek, Outfielder Bats LH, T RH - clearly the best center-fielder the Reds had in years... an all-around performer, Johnny hit .285 in '50, scored 70 runs, 76 RBIs and his 34 two-base hits was second highest on the club, trailing only second-year, first baseman Ted Kluzewski's 37.
* Bob Usher, Outfielder RH - a rookie in 1950... he lined 83 hits in 321 at-bats, .259 BA, and his speed in the outfield saved many runs... and he got red-hot during the final two months of the season, especially with long hits. Bob Usher had 17 doubles and 6 homers for 1950.
* Lloyd Merriman, Outfielder LH - his .989 fielding percent was tops on the Reds. In 92 games he collected 104 total bases in just 298 at-bats... and hit well late in the season.
* Grady Hatton, Third Baseman RH - the popular, handsome 5-foot, 9-inch, 175-pounder had a feminine rooters club... he was ranked as one of the best fielding third-sacker during this era. His rapid fire throwing arm led all 3rd basemen in double plays and his fielding pct of .975 led the NL in '49. Hattan, then 28-years-old, didn't see a major league game until he was 24-years-old and a player on Cincinnati - era before television.
* Ted Kluszewski, First Baseman LH - an excellent bad ball hitter', he could one-handed power the ball into the outfield stands... one of the strongest men in baseball history, he had another banner year in 1950. He finished among the MLB leaders in total bases with 277, doubles with 37, homers with 25, and RBIs with 111.
* Virgil Stallcup, Shortstop RH - a spirited team leader and a defensive stalwart, he was regarded as one of the Reds top clutch-hitters. In 1950 Stallcup batted .251, with 23Ds, 54 RBIs in 483 at-bats.
* Sammy Meeks, Shortstop RH - although he played just 39 games in his first season in the big-leagues, he was regarded as one of the team's top prospects. Meeks hit a solid .284 in 95 at-bats, while playing 29 games at shortstop.
* Dixie Howell, Catcher RH - a long-time major league Veteran regarded by many as a defensive genius, he had 26 assists in 81 games and marked down an outstanding .986 fielding percentage. Howell's hitting tailed off in 1950 - .223 BA in 223 at-bats, 9Ds, 2Hrs, 22 RBIs.
* John Pramesa, Catcher RH - a rookie in 1950, he split backstop duties with Dixie Howell. The muscular 6-ft, 2.5-inch, 220-pound Johnny Pramesa hit .307, with 10Ds, 1T, 5Hrs and drove in 30 runs. He was developing rapidly and was slated to take over full-time catching duties in the near future.
* Joe Adcock, Outfielder RH - the huge 6-ft, 4-inch, 210-pounder was called up from Tulsa (minors) in time to start the 1950 season. He responded by batting .293 in 102 games... whacked 16s, 8Hrs with 55 RBIs. Note: after the 1950 season Joe Adcock served for two years in the US Air Force.
1950 Cincinnati Reds Pitching Staff:
* Ewell 'The Whip' Blackwell, Right-handed - a giant of a man in this era, the lanky 6-ft, 6-inch, 200-pounder's over-powering fastball rates as one of the fastest in baseball history... in 1950, he led his pitching mates in every category including wins, 17-15, ERA of 2.97, 188 strike outs in 261 innings, 112 walks, 4 games, 18 completions.
* Ken Raffensberger, Left-handed - one of the league's workhorses and a 'junk ball artist', Kenny had an outstanding second half after a so-so early start. He compiled a 14-19 record, 4.26 ERA, fanned 87 and worked 239 innings, with 18 complete games.
* Herman Wehmeier, Right-handed - the only hometown player on the Reds' roster... After posting a solid 11-12 mark in '49, even with his big-league stuff he slipped in '50 to 10-18, 5.67 ERA in 236 innings, completed 12 games while making 41appearances. He problem was mainly due to the fact that he threw a team-high 18 home run balls.
* Willard Ramsdell, Right-handed - his crazy knuckleball danced over home plate... a well-known hurler during this era, in 1950 Ramsdell had the second lowest ERA, 3.73, among his mound mates, and, although due to lack of runs support he managed to ring-up only a 7-12 record with Cincinnati - he was traded to the Reds from Brooklyn in May after going 1-2 with the Dodgers.
* Frank Smith, Relief Pitcher - the gusty fireman was called up from Tulsa early in the year, and appeared in 38 games, fanned 55 in 91 innings, had a solid 3.86 ERA but without runs' support posted a 2-7 record.
* Kent Peterson, Left-handed, Bats RH - after a doubtful season in '49 when he was 4-5, with a 6.29 ERA for Cincinnati, the Reds sent him to Syracuse and recalled him in late-1950. Peterson was 0-3 in '50.
* John Hetki, Right-handed - the 6-ft, 1-inch, 205-pounder showed enough stuff at Syracuse in '49 to earn his second trial with the Reds in 1950... Hetki worked in 22 games, was 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 53 innings.
* Harry Perkowski, Relief Pitcher, Left-handed - called up from Syracuse, the 6-ft- 2 1/2-inch, 195-pounder had a fine rookie year, although he had neither a win nor loss to show for it... In 1950 he appeared in 22 games, all in relief, and was highly regarded by Cincinnati's coaches.
* Howie Fox, Right-handed - a confident mounds master, he completed 10-of-34 starts, struck out 64 in 187 innings of work. Fox's six game winning streak was tops on the Reds in 1950... collected a fine 11-8 record, 4.33 ERA.
* Ed Erautt, Right-handed - a starter and reliver, in 1950 he worked 33 games, posted a 4-2 mark, with a 5.68 ERA. Manager Sewell thinks Eddie has the natural ability to be a first-class relief specialists.
* Bud Byerly - pitched in the big-leagues with the Cards during the War Years in '44 and '45... started 1950 with the Syracuse club, going 17-12... finished 1950 with Cincy. baseballhistorian.com - All Rights Reserved - Archives