Cincinnati Reds: Who was the best player in team history to wear No. 9?

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 17, 1990: Joe Oliver #9 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 17, 1990: Joe Oliver #9 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /
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Mike Moustakas will wear No. 9 during his inaugural season with the Cincinnati Reds, but who’s the greatest player in team history to wear that number?

The No. 9 has been worn by 41 players in Cincinnati Reds history. Former MVP Terry Pendleton suited up in No. 9 during his lone season in the Queen City (1997). Upon his return to Cincinnati in 1999, Hal Morris donned the No. 9 after previously wearing the No. 23 throughout most of his Reds career. So, who’s the best player in team history to put on No. 9?

Over the past few seasons, No. 9 belonged to Jose Peraza. A personal favorite of mine, I always thought Peraza drew the shortest straw. It always seemed as though he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A former top prospect in the Dodgers organization, Peraza’s Reds career ended last winter when he was non-tendered by the club.

Before Peraza, former All-Star Marlon Byrd wore the No. 9 in 2015, his only season in Cincinnati. Byrd played in just 96 games before finishing the season in San Francisco. Utility players Jack Hannah, Willie Harris and Willie Bloomquist also wore the No. 9 while with the Reds.

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Four-time All-Star Dante Bichette wore the No. 9 during his one season with the Reds. After plenty of success in the Mile High City, Bichette came back to earth during 125 games he played with Cincinnati during the 2000 season. Bichette hit just 16 homers in Riverfront Stadium after launching 34 the previous season at Coors Field.

Hall of Famer Chick Hafey donned the No. 9 for one season. He also wore No. 4, No. 11 and No. 14 during his time with the Reds. Lew Riggs, who went to the All-Star Game in 1936, wore the No. 9 from 1935 to 1937. Riggs hit .261 during that span and was part of the 1940 Cincinnati team that won the World Series.

Joe Rossi (1952), Matt Batts (1956), Dutch Dotterer (1957 to 1960) and Joe Azcue all donned the tools of ignorance and the No. 9 during their time with the Reds. But no catcher who wore No. 9 probably made Reds Country more proud than Joe Oliver.

Oliver suited up in the No. 9 from 1989 to 1994. During that time, Oliver hit just .245 with 47 home runs and 253 RBIs. Throughout his entire 13-year major-league career, Oliver never went to the Midsummer Classic, but he left a lasting impression in the memory banks of Reds fans everywhere.

Oliver was drafted by the Reds during the 1983 amateur draft, but wouldn’t find his iconic moment in the sun until over seven years later. In Game 2 of the 1990 World Series, facing the A’s closer Dennis Eckersley in the bottom of the 10th inning, Oliver ripped a single down the third base line to seal the win.

Entering the game, Joe Oliver was 4-for-22 in the postseason and a .231 hitter on the year, but he made it count when it mattered. The Reds would go on to win Games 3 and 4 for in Oakland and take home their fifth World Series title.

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To be perfectly honest, when you look through the record books, not many great players have worn the No. 9 while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. However given the gravity of the moment and what it meant in to the franchise, I’m going to give the nod to Joe Oliver. Fans in Reds Country are still talking about that hit in the 1990 World Series.