Retired Numbers: Cincinnati Reds

(This is part of a series on retired numbers, with somewhat of a focus on Retired Number Bandits — players who wore a number that was later retired at any point after the person for whom it was retired first wore it. See the introduction for more information and explanation on Bandits.)

The Cincinnati Reds have officially retired nine numbers and unofficially retired one other. (UPDATE: As of June 26, 2016, the unofficial one is official, too.)

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Fred Hutchinson, 1

Hutchinson managed the Reds for six seasons, leading them to the National League pennant in 1961. In late 1963, doctors discovered malignant tumors in his lungs, chest, and neck. He managed much of the 1964 season, but he managed the final game of his career on August 13, the day after his 45th birthday. He officially retired in October and the Reds retired his number 1, and he passed away three weeks later.

Johnny Bench, 5

Bench is in the conversation for “best catcher ever,” with an outstanding blend of offense and defense. He played his entire 17-year career with the Reds, winning two MVP Awards and hitting 389 home runs.

The Reds retired his number 5 upon his retirement in 1983, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1989.

Incidentally, Bench was the second player to have number 5 retired by the Reds. From 1938-40, they had a backup catcher named Willard Hershberger who wore that number. While playing for the injured Ernie Lombardi in 1940, Hershberger blamed himself for a series of losses, telling a teammate, “If Ernie had been catching, we wouldn’t have lost those ball games.” After calling in sick for a doubleheader on August 3, Hershberger committed suicide in his hotel room. The Reds retired his number, but they soon returned it to circulation.

Joe Morgan, 8

Morgan played only eight of his 22 seasons with the Reds, coming over from the Astros after nine seasons. He was a key element of the Big Red Machine, winning back-to-back MVP Awards and five straight Gold Gloves.

Morgan’s 100.3 career WAR is fourth in history among second basemen, and first among second basemen who played after 1937. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Reds retired his number 8 in 1998.

Sparky Anderson, 10

Anderson was the manager of those Big Red Machine teams, managing the team for nine years and winning two World Series championships before being pushed out by ownership after the 1978 season.

Anderson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Reds retired his number 10 in 2005. Before it was retired, the Reds issued the number to Tom Foley, Tom Runnells, Terry Francona, Leon Durham, Manny Trillo, Luis Quinones, Bip Roberts, Ed Taubensee, and Jason Romano.

Barry Larkin, 11

Larkin was a local hero, born and raised in Cincinnati and playing his entire 19-year career for his hometown team. He was a 12-time All-Star and won the MVP Award in 1995. His career batting line was .295 .371 .444, and Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system lists Larkin as the 13th-best shortstop in history.

Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012 in his third year on the ballot, and the Reds retired his number 11 that year.

Dave Concepcion, 13

Before Larkin, there was Concepcion, who passed the shortstop torch after a 19-year career spent entirely in Cincinnati. Concepcion stayed on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years, never receiving more than 16.9 percent of the vote. Many of his Big Red Machine teammates campaigned for his election, but it never happened in the standard voting.

Concepcion’s number 13 has not been issued since his retirement in 1988, and it was officially retired in 2007.

Pete Rose, 14

Rose was banned from baseball before the Reds got the chance to retire his number 14, but it has been issued only once since his record-breaking career ended: to his son, Pete Rose Jr., for 11 lackluster games in 1997. The Reds recently announced that Rose will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame and have his number retired in June 2016. (UPDATE: It became official on June 26, 2016.)

Ted Kluszewski, 18

Kluszewski was at least as much legend as ballplayer, a Paul Bunyan-type behemoth with huge arms that required him to cut the sleeves off his jersey to keep from messing up his swing. Not surprisingly, he had enormous power, but injury problems cut into his career and he never played a full season after the age of 31.

Kluszewski later coached the Reds for several years, and the team retired his number 18 in 1998. After “Big Klu,” the number was worn by Steve Bilko, Walt Dropo, Cliff Cook, Gordy Coleman, Mike de la Hoz, Tim Costo, Benito Santiago, and Eric Owens.

This video shows Kluszewski’s sleeveless jersey, large arms, and somewhat interesting straight-armed swing:

Frank Robinson, 20

Robinson is the only player to win an MVP Award in each league, and both the Reds and the Orioles have retired his number 20. He hit 324 of his 586 career home runs in his ten seasons with the Reds.

For some reason, the Reds did not put Robinson’s number on ice when they traded him to the Orioles in 1965. By the time the retired it in 1998, it had been worn by Dick Simpson, Ted Savage, Willie Smith, Cesar Geronimo, Eddie Milner, Danny Jackson, Chris Jones, Jeff Branson, and Chris Stynes.

Tony Perez, 24

Like Concepcion, Perez is another former Big Red Machine player whose teammates campaigned for his election to the Hall of Fame. In the case of Perez, though, it worked, and he was elected in 2000 in his ninth year on the ballot.

Perez played 16 of his 23 seasons with the Reds, collecting 1,934 hits and 287 home runs with the team. After seven years split between the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies, Perez came home to Cincinnati for his final three seasons.

Perez’s number 24 was retired in 2000. It had not been issued since his retirement in 1986, although it was once issued to Dave Van Gorder during Perez’s time with the Red Sox.

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