Sunday, May 1, 2011

1954 Cincinnati Redlegs

The Redlegs
Cold War politics makes an appearance in major league baseball in 1954. From 1954 through 1959, the Cincinnati Reds weren't known as the Reds, but the Redlegs. The name change was due to the Red scare, but I am not sure how going from the Reds to the Redlegs prevents any confusion. Maybe that is why they changed back to the reds after 1959. The previous four seasons, the Reds finished in 6th place in the National League, but with a name change they moved up to 5th place in 1954. The Reds/Redlegs would finish in the middle of the pack in the National League until they finally made a World Series appearance in 1961. Then of course, shortly after, the Big Red Machine started coming together.

Big Klu

The '54 Redlegs were in the upper half of the league in hitting, but didn't have a solid pitching staff. The offense was led by Ted Kluszewski, who had a monster year with 49 home runs, 141 RBIs (both categories he led the league) and a .326 batting average. This is one of the few players big time players that Topps had in their set, but wasn't in the Bowman set. Looking at Ted Kluszewski, he looks like he would have fit right in during the steroid era, as he would often wear his uniform with cut0off sleeves. He had several big season in the mid-1950s, but injured himself during a clubhouse fight in 1956. He was never the same, and was a part time player from 1957-1961, bouncing around from the Reds to the Pirates to the White Sox, and finally appearing with the Angels during their first season in 1961. It seems funny now, as scouting seems that no player is unfound, but in the mid-1940s, Klu was discovered when the Reds were in spring training in Indiana and he was on the grounds crew.

Starter and Hall-of-Fame/All-Star Scores
Exclusive players to a set are in italics

Topps Regulars (8): Ted Kluszewski, Bobby Adams, Roy McMillan, Jim Greengrass, Chuck Harmon, Bud Podbeilan, Frank Smith, Harry Perkowski

Bowman Regulars (11): Andy Seminik, Bobby Adams, Roy McMillan, Jim Greengrass, Gus Bell, Frank Baczewski, Frank Smith, Joe Nuxhall, Jackie Collum, Karl Drews (shown with Phillies, split time with Reds and Phillies, getting more playing time with the Reds), Harry Perkowski

Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (1): Ted Kluszewski

Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (1): Gus Bell

This is the first team we come across in 1954 that produces no hall-of-famers. The two all-star game representatives for the Reds in 1954 are each in two of the different sets. Neither set has the top two starting pitchers, Art Fowler or Corky Valentine. Johnny Temple is also missing, but his rookie card wouldn't appear until the 1955 Bowman set. Topps scores by having the best pitcher on this team on a card, in Frank Smith, and by having the only card of longtime Reds catcher Ed Bailey, although he didn't play enough to be considered a regular in 1954. I would say this is a very evenly matched team as far as what set to collect, as Topps has more of the bench players.

__ BO 172 C Andy Seminick CIN
__ TO 7 1B Ted Kluszewski CIN

2B Johnny Temple
__ TO 123 3B Bobby Adams CIN
__ TO 120 SS Roy McMillan CIN
__ TO 22 LF Jim Greengrass CIN
__ BO 124 CF Gus Bell CIN

RF Wally Post
__ TO 182 3B Chuck Harmon CIN

Starting Pitchers

SP Art Fowler

SP Corky Valentine
__ TO 69 SP Bud Podbielan CIN
__ BO 60 SP Fred Baczewski CIN

Relief Pitchers
__ TO 71 CL Frank Smith CIN
__ BO 76 RP Joe Nuxhall CIN

RP Howie Judson
__ BO 204 RP Jackie Collum CIN
__ BO 191 RP Karl Drews PHI
__ TO 125 RP Harry Perkowski CIN

Other Players
__ TO 184 C Ed Bailey CIN
__ TO 138 RF Bob Borkowski CIN

OF Lloyd Merriman
__ BO 220 C Hobie Landrith CIN

UT Nino Escalera
__ BO 156 MI Rocky Bridges CIN

CF Jim Bolger

PH Dick Murphy

PH Grady Hatton
__ TO 19 PH Johnny Lipon BAL
__ TO 136 PH Connie Ryan CIN

RP Herm Wehmeier

RP Moe Savransky

SP Jim Pearce
__ TO 97 RP Jerry Lane WSH
__ TO 46 RP Ken Raffensberger CIN

RP Mario Picone

RP George Zuverink

RP Cliff Ross


MG Birdie Tebbetts

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