The finest Redleg to ever don the #6 was former three-time All-Star as a member of the club, Ed Bailey. Many may not remember the playing days of Mr. Bailey, as he officially became a member of the organization in 1953 after serving in the military. He was a member of the club up until the beginning of the 1961 season when he was shipped to the San Francisco Giants.
The left-handed slugging catcher pounded a career-high 28 homeruns in 1956 when he earned his first All-Star appearance, along with finishing 18th in the entire league in MVP voting. Bailey did not even manage to have 450 plate appearances that season, severely limiting his potential of banging even more balls over the wall.
Some other of his career accomplishments included: a three home run game in 1956 against the Brooklyn Dodgers, a two home run game in Game 3 of the 1962 World Series as a member of the San Francisco Giants and catching Juan Marichal’s no-hitter during the summer of 1963.
Born and raised in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, Bailey continued both his education and played college ball at the University of Tennessee. Upon the conclusion of his Major League career that ultimately lasted 14 years, Bailey found his final resting place back in ole’ Rocky Top in 2007.
Other candidates ran a plenty with the closest to earning the honors being former utility man, Ryan Freel. While he was an unquestioned fan favorite during his time in the Queen City, Freel just did not produce a résumé superior to that of Bailey’s. Drew Stubbs was also a viable #6 as he was the centerfielder on two division winning championship teams, along with being one of the fastest and most exhilarating players in the game. Of course, the nauseatingly high level of strikeouts made Stubbs a villain amongst the fan base, but his athleticism and humble attitude made him a hard player to run out of town. For those familiar, a new Red in town has become accustomed to having #6 on his back, Billy Hamilton, and by the time he is done, he may be the best in Reds history to ever wear the number.
At the end of the day, we felt it necessary to honor yet another legendary Reds catcher who left his mark on the franchise. His number may never be enshrined in Reds lore, but for now, he is the best to ever wear the #6.