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The Great Eight

The 1975 Cincinnati Reds

Mark Armour

Publication Year: 2014

The 1975 Cincinnati Reds, also known as the “Big Red Machine,” are not just one of the most memorable teams in baseball history—they are unforgettable. While the Reds dominated the National League from 1972 to 1976, it was the ’75 team that surpassed them all, winning 108 games and beating the Boston Red Sox in a thrilling 7-game World Series. Led by Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, the team’s roster included other legends such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Pérez, Ken Griffey Sr., and Dave Concepción. The 1975 Reds were notably disciplined and clean-cut, which distinguished them from the increasingly individualistic players of the day.
 
The Great Eight commemorates the people and events surrounding this outstanding baseball team with essays on team management and key aspects and highlights of the season, including Pete Rose’s famous position change. This volume gives Reds fans complete biographies of all the team’s players, relives the enthralling 1975 season, and celebrates a team that is consistently ranked as one of the best teams in baseball history.
 

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Introduction

Mark Armour

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pp. vii-x

When SABR and the University of Nebraska Press agreed to create a Memorable Teams in Baseball History series, one of the first clubs I thought of was the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. Baseball historians have not neglected this team and season, but...

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1. Bob Howsam

Mark Armour

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pp. 1-7

Bob Howsam would consider himself one of the last of a breed. A protégé of Branch Rickey, who believed in scouting, player development, and the art of making a deal, Howsam built—just before the advent of free agency—one of history’s greatest...

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2. Scouting and Player Development

Jim Sandoval

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pp. 8-11

When forty-eight-year-old Bob Howsam was hired by new team president Francis L. Dale as general manager of the Cincinnati Reds in January 1967, he analyzed the organization top to bottom, looking for ways to improve the team on the field and...

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3. Sparky Anderson

Cindy Thomson

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pp. 12-19

George Lee “Sparky” Anderson was one of the great baseball men of all time in terms of success, integrity, and personality. He led the Cincinnati Reds to back-to-back world championships in 1975 and 1976 and the Detroit Tigers to a World Series...

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4. George Scherger

Mark Armour

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pp. 20-23

“He knows more about baseball than I’ll ever know,” Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson once said of George Scherger.1 Pete Rose, answering skeptics about his own ascension to playermanager in August 1984, told the press not to...

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5. Alex Grammas

Maxwell Kates

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pp. 24-29

There was never an Alex Grammas question on Family Feud. However, if Richard Dawson, the late and longtime host of the popular game show, had asked a hundred of his contemporaries how they remembered Grammas, the survey would invariably...

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6. Larry Shepard

Andy Sturgill

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pp. 30-34

Serving as the pitching coach for the Big Red Machine is a bit like being the drummer in Billy Joel’s band. Even if you’re an integral part of an exceptional team, only the most devoted and hard-core observers will ever know your name as opposed...

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7. Ted Kluszewski

Paul Ladewski

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pp. 35-39

The area known as Argo is located eight miles west of Chicago’s old Comiskey Park in Summit, Illinois, a low-down, five-figure village in Cook County known for a corn milling and processing plant that is among the largest of its kind—and...

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8. Preseason Outlook

Mark Armour

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pp. 40-42

As the Cincinnati Reds prepared for the 1975 season, they had reason for cautious optimism. The club had plenty of talented players, including some of the biggest stars in the game, and they had been a strong team for several years. There were at least...

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9. Pete Rose

Andy Sturgill

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pp. 43-49

The 1970 All-Star Game, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, was tied at 4–4 with two out in the bottom of the twelfth inning. For the National League, Pete Rose was on second base and Billy Grabarkewitz on first. When Jim Hickman lined...

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10. Tom Hall

Mark Armour

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pp. 50-53

Tom Hall’s physique, usually listed as 6 feet and 150 pounds but occasionally lighter, earned him the enduring nickname “The Blade.” Teammate Ted Uhlaender once quipped, “He wouldn’t sink two inches if he walked on quicksand.”1 But Hall...

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11. Bill Plummer

Michael Fallon

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pp. 54-58

Role players have long existed in baseball. At least since 1910, when roster numbers were set at twenty-five active players and forty reserved players, teams have kept bench players who filled certain key situational roles. And this tendency has...

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12. Don Gullett

Charles F. Faber

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pp. 59-65

A three-sport star in high school, Don Gullett became a professional baseball player at the age of eighteen. After a short stint in the Minors, he became the mainstay of the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff. Before he was twenty-five years old he was...

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13. Tom Carroll

Gregory H. Wolf

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pp. 66-71

Recalled from the Minor Leagues near midseason by the Cincinnati Reds in both 1974 and 1975, Tom Carroll was a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who began his career by winning his first four decisions as a starter in 1974. With the Big...

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14. April 1975 Timeline

Mark Miller, Mark Armour

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pp. 72-74

All headlines below are from the next day’s edition of the Springfield (OH) News.

April 7—Anderson Places Great Significance on Reds’ Win—The Reds begin their quest for a world championship in their traditional home opener, defeating the Dodgers 2–1 in fourteen...

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15. Ken Griffey

Charles F. Faber

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pp. 75-78

Baseball lore is rich with stories of fathers and sons playing catch in the backyard, of fathers and sons bonding at a baseball park. Ken Griffey’s father never played catch with him, never bonded with him at a baseball park, or anywhere else for that...

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16. Fred Norman

Doug Wilson

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pp. 79-82

Describing his philosophy of building pitching staffs, Sparky Anderson once remarked, “To get the real top-flight pitchers, you have to strip yourself of so much talent that if you make such a deal, you find you don’t have enough left to win. So...

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17. Rose to Third

Rory Costello

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pp. 83-85

Pete Rose roamed around the diamond during his twenty-four big league seasons. Depending on when one saw him, the picture of Charlie Hustle with a glove on his hand varied. He was primarily a second baseman from 1963 through 1966. He...

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18. Clay Carroll

Derek Norin, Mark Armour

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pp. 86-89

Clay Carroll was a popular relief star in the heyday of the fireman, a bullpen workhorse who could be used in a variety of difficult situations. From the end of June 1968 through the 1975 season, he saved a then Cincinnati Reds record 119 games...

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19. Merv Rettenmund

Jacob Pomrenke

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pp. 90-95

By his own account, Merv Rettenmund was a “scuffler” more than a ballplayer. He never found his niche as a regular starter with the Baltimore Orioles, but he starred as a super-sub and was a key cog for the Orioles as they won three consecutive...

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20. May 1975 Timeline

Mark Miller, Mark Armour

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pp. 96-99

All headlines below are from the next day’s edition of the Springfield (OH) News.

May 2—Blanks Is Villain Again as Braves Defeat Reds—For the second time in a week, light-hitting Braves shortstop Larvell Blanks provided extra base-hit power, this...

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21. Johnny Bench

Mark Armour

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pp. 100-205

A generation after Johnny Bench’s last game, he remains the gold standard for baseball catchers of any era. By the age of twenty he had redefined how to play the position, and by twenty-two he was the biggest star, at any position, in all of baseball. Catching...

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22. Pat Darcy

Gregory H. Wolf

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pp. 206-110

In his youth, Will McEnaney was a mischief maker. In his adulthood, mischief became roistering, somewhat to the detriment of McEnaney’s career as a National League pitcher. Still, he posted a few achievements, including sterling performances as...

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23. Dan Driessen

Gregory H. Wolf

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pp. 111-117

An integral role player on the Big Red Machine’s World Series–winning teams in 1975 and 1976, Dan Driessen developed into a dependable, consistent, clutch-hitting first baseman over his fifteen-year Major League career. One of the best fielding...

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24. César Gerónimo

Jorge Iber

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pp. 118-121

Playing on a squad that featured such top-rank stars as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Tony Pérez made it challenging for other players to gain notice in their own right. During the 1970s it was easy to overlook the contributions of “other” Reds...

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25. John Vukovich

Andy Sturgill

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pp. 122-126

Hitting mammoth home runs and striking out ten hitters a game look great in highlights or on the back of a baseball card, but those who excel at these feats are few and far between. The soul of the game is the baseball lifer. Lifers count their number...

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26. June 1975 Timeline

Mark Miller, Mark Armour

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pp. 127-130

All headlines below are from the next day’s edition of the Springfield (OH) News.

June 1—“Big Hits” Lift Redlegs, One--Half Game Out—The Reds got all their runs on a third-inning three-run home run by Joe Morgan and a fifth-inning...

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27. George Foster

Cindy Thomson

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pp. 131-134

A right-handed, power-hitting outfielder, George Foster was a feared presence at bat and in the outfield for most of his eleven-year run with the Cincinnati Reds. Once he mastered the mental aspect of his game, Foster became a key ingredient in...

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28. Terry Crowley

Malcolm Allen

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pp. 135-140

One of Terry Crowley’s favorite players when he was a teenager was the New York Yankees’ pinch hitter par excellence Johnny Blanchard. “When he wasn’t catching, he was a good pinch-hitter, so for some reason I liked him a lot,” Crowley...

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29. Pedro Borbon

Jorge Iber

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pp. 141-143

Given the offensive firepower of the Big Red Machine, it is quite easy to overlook the contributions of the pitching staff to the franchise’s success and its two World Series banners. Clearly a run-scoring powerhouse that featured talents like...

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30. Dave Concepción

Joseph Wancho

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pp. 144-147

It’s called the fall classic, and the 1975 World Series was indeed a “classic.” The Series waged between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox was one of the more memorable championship battles, as a single run decided five of the seven...

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31. Ed Armbrister

Rory Costello

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pp. 148-153

The third man from the Bahamas to play in the Major Leagues, Ed Armbrister was a spare part in Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine. His career was modest (265 at bats in 224 games), but he won World Series rings in 1975 and 1976. Yet for Boston...

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32. July 1975 Timeline

Mark Miller, Mark Armour

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pp. 154-157

All headlines below are from the next day’s edition of the Springfield (OH) News.

July 1—Reds Win 29th in Last 36, Nip Astros Again in 15th, 8–7—The headline was actually incorrect; they had won thirty of their past thirty-eight games. Nonetheless...

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33. Joe Morgan

Charles F. Faber

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pp. 158-163

Hitting for average and power and stealing bases with aplomb, the diminutive infielder was the star of the Castlemont High School baseball team in Oakland, California. Major League scouts were well aware of the quality of play in the East Bay. Among...

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34. Doug Flynn

Gregory H. Wolf

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pp. 164-169

“This game is tough to play,” said eleven-year Major League infielder Doug Flynn in an interview with the author.1 Progressing through the Cincinnati Reds system in the early 1970s, Flynn was a utility man on the Reds’ championship teams in...

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35. Rawly Eastwick

Andy Sturgill

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pp. 170-174

In art a painter may create masterpieces on canvas. In baseball the verb paint applies to a craft no less skillful. The Dickson Baseball Dictionary defines the verb as “to throw pitches over the edges of the plate, which appear to be dark or black because of...

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36. Gary Nolan

Richard Miller

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pp. 175-179

Eighteen-year-old Cincinnati Reds pitcher Gary Nolan, in his first Major League start, defeated the Houston Astros 7–3 at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field on April 15, 1967. In the first inning he faced four batters and struck out Sonny Jackson, Jim...

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37. Darrel Chaney

Derek Norin

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pp. 180-183

An eleven-year Major League infielder, Darrel Chaney stayed in the game due largely to his versatility and positive attitude. After a career that included appearances in three World Series, Chaney became a successful announcer, businessman, and...

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38. August 1975 Timeline

Mark Miller, Mark Armour

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pp. 184-187

All headlines below are from the next day’s edition of the Springfield (OH) News.

August 1—Cey’s 10th Inning Homer Gives LA Wild Victory—Starting their West Coast trip in Los Angeles, Johnny Bench gave the Reds a 3–0 lead with his two-run home run...

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39. Tony Pérez

Philip A. Cola

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pp. 188-192

It was Wednesday evening, October 22, 1975, Game Seven of the greatest World Series ever played. The Big Red Machine from Cincinnati faced the Boston Red Sox the night after an amazing Game Six marathon won by the Red Sox in...

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40. Jack Billingham

Bill Nowlin

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pp. 193-197

Although the 1970s Reds were famous for their great offense, a pitcher holds one of the team’s—and baseball’s—most impressive records. Jack Billingham has the lowest earned run average in World Series play, 0.36. He allowed just one...

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41. Clay Kirby

Charles F. Faber

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pp. 198-201

In his Major League career Clay Kirby won seventy-five games, yet he is best remembered for one of his losses. On July 21, 1970, Kirby, on the mound for the San Diego Padres, pitched eight innings of no-hit ball against the New York Mets...

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42. Don Werner

Malcolm Allen

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pp. 202-205

Don Werner played eighteen seasons of professional baseball and appeared in 118 Major League games, backing up one Hall of Famer and catching the only no-hitter pitched by another. Though he batted just .176 during limited opportunities in...

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43. Will McEnaney

Mark Miller

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pp. 206-209

In his youth, Will McEnaney was a mischief maker. In his adulthood, mischief became roistering, somewhat to the detriment of McEnaney’s career as a National League pitcher. Still, he posted a few achievements, including sterling performances as...

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44. September 1975 Timeline

Mark Miller, Mark Armour

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pp. 210-212

All headlines below are from the next day’s edition of the Springfield (OH) News.

September 1—Jones Likes Screwball, After Beating Reds, 2–1—The Reds had their chances, with nine hits, but San Diego’s Randy Jones spread them out to defeat the...

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45. Marty Brennaman

Matt Bohn

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pp. 213-217

On July 23, 2000, Marty Brennaman, radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds since 1974, was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Ford C. Frick Award, the highest award bestowed on a baseball broadcaster. (Honored with Hall of Fame...

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46. Postseason

Mark Armour

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pp. 218-222

The 1975 NL West regular-season race, which was supposed to be a tight struggle between two great teams, turned out to be no race at all. Sitting with a 20-20 record on May 20, the Reds won seven in a row and never really let up. They took over...

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47. The Reds of Summer

Steve Treder

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pp. 223-228

They were a ball club well-known then and well-remembered today not just for their victories and championships but also—indeed, more so—for the manner in which those victories and championships were achieved. The team presented a gallery...

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48. 1976 and Beyond

Anthony Giacalone

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pp. 229-234

The Big Red Machine reached its destiny when César Gerónimo closed his glove around Carl Yastrzemski’s fly ball on October 22, 1975, at Fenway Park to end the World Series. In that moment of ecstasy and exhaustion the Cincinnati Reds became...

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Epilogue

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pp. 235-236

The Big Red Machine can be said to broadly refer to the Reds of 1970 through 1976, who won four NL pennants, and more narrowly to the 1975 and 1976 clubs, who won back-to-back World Series titles. After years of knocking on the door, the 1975...

Notes and References

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pp. 237-256

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Contributors

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pp. 257-260

Malcolm Allen is a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan and the coeditor of Pitching, Defense, and Three-Run Homers: The 1970 Baltimore Orioles (University of Nebraska...


E-ISBN-13: 9780803253407
E-ISBN-10: 0803253400
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803245860

Page Count: 280
Illustrations:
Publication Year: 2014