With March Madness in full effect, we are holding Cincinnati Reds Madness. Leading up until Opening Day, Blog Red Machine will post matchups of all-time greats and let you, the readers, decide who is the greatest Reds player of all-time.
Our final first-round matchup in Reds Madness features two all-time greats in Cincinnati Reds history. The Reds dominated the 1970s, in no small part to the contributions from Joe Morgan and Tony Pérez. The No. 3 seed, Little Joe goes head-to-head against the No. 6 seed, the Big Dog in our last of four first round battles.
Was there a better all-around player during the 1970s than Joe Morgan? The Little General, who stood only 5’7″, was larger than life on the field. From 1970-1979, Morgan slashed .282/.404/.455 with 275 doubles, 173 home runs, and 720 RBIs.
Joe Morgan went to 9 All-Star Games during those 10 years, 8 of which were with the Cincinnati Reds. He won 6 Gold Gloves during that span and won back-to-back National League MVP Awards in 1975 and 1976, the same years that the Reds took home back-to-back World Series titles.
Morgan was acquired in a trade from the Houston Astros that, at the time, was considered lopsided in favor of the ‘Stros. Houston had acquired Tommy Helms, Lee May, and Jimmy Stewart from Cincinnati in exchange for Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Jack Billingham, and Denis Menke.
Another veteran of the Big Red Machine was the Big Dog. Tony Pérez spent time at both third base and first base during his time in Cincinnati and later returned to manage the team in the 1980s. Pérez won two World Series titles with the Reds and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
Pérez began his career as a first baseman, but found great success as an All-Star third baseman from 1967-1971. However, Pérez moved back to first base during the 1972 season, allowing Pete Rose to take over a third base.
Pérez racked up RBIs left and right for the Cincinnati Reds. Pérez had 100-plus RBIs in 7 of his 22 major league seasons, 6 of those came a member of the Reds. Tony Pérez saw some time as a manger for the Reds during the 1993 season, but logged only 20 wins in 44 games.
So, who ya got Reds Country? Is it the Big Dog or the Little General? Unlike Barry Larkin, Dave Concepción, and Johnny Bench, neither Morgan or Pérez spent their entire career with the Cincinnati Reds. However, the impact they had during their time with the organization was felt throughout the tri-state area.