One of the most important dates in Cincinnati Reds history happened during the fall of 1971. On November 29th, the Reds were able to swing a trade with the Houston Astros for future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, among others.
The Reds acquired Morgan, outfielder Ed Armbrister, pitcher Jack Billingham, and outfielders César Gerónimo and Denis Menke from the Astros. In return, Houston received infielders Lee May, Tommy Helms and outfielder Jimmy Stewart.
This trade, which was seen as a win for the Astros at the time, would help fuel the Big Red Machine to back-to-back World Series Championships in 1975 and 1976.
Revisiting the greatest trade in Cincinnati Reds history.
Power hitting first baseman Lee May seemed like the prize of the trade. May had just hit 39 homers and been named to the NL All-Star team in 1971. Nobody on the Cincinnati Reds end of the deal matched his offensive production to this point in their careers.
But upon reflections, the headliner of this blockbuster trade would be Joe Morgan. Morgan earned a trip to eight consecutive All-Star Games while also taking home five Gold Gloves Awards and two NL MVPs.
Morgan not only cemented himself as one of the best Reds players of all-time, but most would argue that he's the best second baseman in the history of baseball. Rogers Hornsby is also in the discussion.
Morgan proved throughout the 1970s to be the spark that lit the Reds' fire time and time again. The additions of Geronimo and Billingham shouldn't be overlooked either, as these two played an integral part in the Big Red Machine throughout the 1970s.
The foundation and future of the Cincinnati Reds was completely altered on that November night. At the time, nobody knew the exact impact that trade and Joe Morgan would have on the Cincinnati Reds. Fast forward 50 years and that is still one of the greatest trades in the history of baseball.