1972 World Series

The 1972 World Series matched the American League champion Oakland Athletics against the National League champion Cincinnati Reds, with the Athletics winning in seven games.[1][2][3] It was the first World Series win for the A's in 42 years, since 1930.

These two teams met again in the World Series 18 years later in 1990.

1972 World Series
Team (Wins) Manager(s) Season
Oakland Athletics (4) Dick Williams 93–62 (.600),
GA: 5½
Cincinnati Reds (3) Sparky Anderson 95–59 (.617),
GA: 10½
DatesOctober 14–22
MVPGene Tenace (Oakland)
UmpiresChris Pelekoudas (NL), Bill Haller (AL),
Mel Steiner (NL), Frank Umont (AL),
Bob Engel (NL), Jim Honochick (AL)
Hall of FamersAthletics : Dick Williams (manager),
Reggie Jackson (dnp), Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers
Reds: Sparky Anderson (manager),
Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Pérez
ALCSOakland over Detroit Tigers (3–2)
NLCSCincinnati over Pittsburgh Pirates (3–2)
Broadcast
TelevisionNBC
TV announcersCurt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, and
Al Michaels (Games 1, 2, 6, 7), and
Monte Moore (Games 3, 4, 5)
RadioNBC
Radio announcersJim Simpson,
Monte Moore (Games 1, 2, 6, 7), and
Al Michaels (Games 3, 4, 5)
World Series

Background

The A's won the American League West division by 5½ games over the Chicago White Sox, then defeated the Detroit Tigers three games to two in the American League Championship Series. The Cincinnati Reds won the National League West division by 10½ games over both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros. The Reds dethroned the defending World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates three games to two in the National League Championship Series, marking the first year in which an LCS series in either league went the full five games since divisional play was introduced in 1969. The Reds (95–59 (.617)) won one less game than the Pirates (96–59 (.619)) during the strike-reduced regular season and became the first team in MLB history to reach the World Series without having the best record in its respective league. In each of the first six League Championship Series, the team with the better record advanced to the World Series. (The A's (93–62 (.600)) had the best record in the American League in 1972, but the AL pennant winner the next three seasons did not.)

This was Cincinnati's second trip to the World Series in three years, previously falling to Baltimore in five games in 1970. It was Oakland's first-ever trip to the Series, and the first for the franchise since 1931, when the team was located in Philadelphia.[4]

This was a matchup of the two premier MLB dynasties of the 1970s, with the Reds winning two World Series (197576) in four WS appearances, while the A's won three straight (1972–74). Iconoclastic club owner Charlie Finley's "Swingin' A's" featured day-glo uniforms, white shoes, lots of facial hair, colorful nicknames, and explosive personalities, while "The Big Red Machine" was a more traditional franchise with a more traditional look (including a facial-hair ban)—and an everyday lineup with multiple future Hall of Famers as well as all-time hits king, Pete Rose. The Series was dubbed "The Hairs vs. the Squares."[5]

Oakland played the Series without its star outfielder Reggie Jackson, who was injured (pulled hamstring) stealing home in the second inning of the final game of the ALCS at Detroit on October 12.[4][6][7] Left-handed reliever Darold Knowles was also missing for the A's, breaking his thumb on September 27, less than three weeks before the Series opener.

With Jackson out, the Athletics were decided underdogs.[8] George Hendrick was inserted into center field for Jackson. And while Hendrick only went 2-for-15 (.133 avg.), unheralded catcher Gene Tenace stepped up. Tenace had a poor regular season, hitting only .225 with five home runs. He was even worse in the AL Championship series against Detroit, going 1 for 17 (.059), although his one hit drove in the go-ahead run in Game 5. In the World Series however, Tenace was spectacular, hitting four home runs equaling the World Series mark set by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Bauer. He also had nine RBI in the Series—no other Oakland player had more than one. Tenace was voted World Series MVP.

By contrast, the stellar Oakland pitching kept the middle of the Reds lineup quiet for most of the series. Johnny Bench (.270 avg., 40 HR, 125 RBI, NL MVP), Tony Pérez (.283 avg., 21 HR, 90 RBI), and Denis Menke (9 HR, 50 RBI), combined for only two homers and five RBI the entire Series. It didn't help that the Reds' "table-setters," Pete Rose and Joe Morgan were a combined 1 for 28 through the first four games, when the Reds lost three of those games.

The teams were fairly equal statistically, each club totaling 46 hits with the same .209 batting average (the combined batting averages were the lowest recorded in a 7-game World Series). The Reds outscored the A's by five runs, 21–16, but all four of their losses were by a single run. Six of the seven games in the series were decided by one run, marking perhaps the most closely contested World Series in history. There were five one-run games in 1991, with three going to extra innings, including Game 7.

Summary

AL Oakland A's (4) vs. NL Cincinnati Reds (3)

Game Date Score Location Time Attendance 
1 October 14 Oakland A's – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2 Riverfront Stadium 2:18 52,918[9] 
2 October 15 Oakland A's – 2, Cincinnati Reds – 1 Riverfront Stadium 2:26 53,224[10] 
3 October 18 Cincinnati Reds – 1, Oakland A's – 0 Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 2:24 49,410[11] 
4 October 19 Cincinnati Reds – 2, Oakland A's – 3 Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 2:06 49,410[12] 
5 October 20 Cincinnati Reds – 5, Oakland A's – 4 Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 2:26 49,410[13] 
6 October 21 Oakland A's – 1, Cincinnati Reds – 8 Riverfront Stadium 2:21 52,737[14] 
7 October 22 Oakland A's – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2 Riverfront Stadium 2:50 56,040[15]

: postponed from October 17 due to rain

Matchups

Game 1

Saturday, October 14, 1972 1:00 pm (ET) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 4 0
Cincinnati 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
WP: Ken Holtzman (1–0)   LP: Gary Nolan (0–1)   Sv: Vida Blue (1)
Home runs:
OAK: Gene Tenace 2 (2)
CIN: None

Oakland jumped out to a one-game series lead behind catcher Gene Tenace, who hit a home run in each of his first two at-bats. Tenace became the first player ever to homer in his two initial Series plate appearances, a feat later matched by Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves in 1996. Only two Oakland players collected hits, a pair each from Tenace and Bert Campaneris. The A's received a combined four innings of shutout relief from Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue to secure the victory for starter Ken Holtzman. Blue stranded the potential tying run at third base to end the game by inducing Pete Rose to ground out to second base.

Game 2

Sunday, October 15, 1972 1:00 pm (ET) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 2
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 0
WP: Catfish Hunter (1–0)   LP: Ross Grimsley (0–1)   Sv: Rollie Fingers (1)
Home runs:
OAK: Joe Rudi (1)
CIN: None

The Game 2 hero was A's left fielder Joe Rudi, who smacked a home run and added a sparkling, game-saving catch up against the wall in the ninth inning on a ball hit by Denis Menke. Catfish Hunter pitched eight strong innings, consistently wiggling out of trouble, and also added an RBI single in the second off Ross Grimsley. The Reds' failure to produce in the clutch was as much the story as Rudi's heroics as Cincinnati had leadoff baserunners in five innings but only scored a run in the ninth.

In the ninth, Tony Pérez led off with a base hit before Rudi's catch of Menke's drive for the first out. Oakland first baseman Mike Hegan then made another great defensive play when César Gerónimo, the next Reds hitter, lined a shot that appeared headed down the line for extra bases. Hegan dove for the ball, knocked it down, and dove for the bag, barely beating Geronimo. Pérez took second and scored on a Hal McRae single through the middle. Rollie Fingers then relieved Hunter and induced pinch hitter Julián Javier to pop out to Hegan in foul territory to end the game. The World Series home loss was Reds' seventh-straight, which included three in the 1961 World Series against the New York Yankees (at Crosley Field) and two in the 1970 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Jackie Robinson, the first black major league player of the modern era, made his final public appearance in Cincinnati before Game 2 (he died nine days later). In a brief speech, he expressed his desire to see a black manager in Major League Baseball, a color barrier that had not yet been broken. Two years later, Frank Robinson was hired in October 1974 to manage the Cleveland Indians to break that barrier.[16][17]

Game 3

Wednesday, October 18, 1972 5:30 pm (PT) at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 4 2
Oakland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2
WP: Jack Billingham (1–0)   LP: Blue Moon Odom (0–1)   Sv: Clay Carroll (1)

Heavy storms delayed Game 3 by a day, but the Reds got back into the series behind a strong performance from starter Jack Billingham, who held the A's to three hits in eight innings. The Reds pushed across the game's only run in the seventh when César Gerónimo singled home Tony Pérez. Pérez scored despite slipping on the still damp grass as he rounded third. Oakland shortstop Bert Campaneris was apparently unaware that Perez had slipped; otherwise, it appeared Campaneris may have had a play at the plate. Clay Carroll pitched the ninth for the save.

A rare trick play occurred in the eighth inning. The Reds had Joe Morgan on third and Bobby Tolan on first base with Rollie Fingers pitching to NL MVP Johnny Bench. Fingers pitched carefully to Bench before Tolan stole second base on ball three. After the stolen base, with the count 3–2 on Bench, A's manager Dick Williams visited the mound. After a long discussion, he motioned for an intentional walk to Bench. A's catcher Gene Tenace stood to catch ball four, but at the last second returned to his crouch as Fingers delivered a strike on the outside corner. Bench watched the pitch go by for strike three.

Game 4

Thursday, October 19, 1972 5:30 pm (PT) at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 7 1
Oakland 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 3 10 1
WP: Rollie Fingers (1–0)   LP: Clay Carroll (0–1)
Home runs:
CIN: None
OAK: Gene Tenace (3)

A very pivotal game in the series, and it was Gene Tenace and Oakland non-starters who came through in the ninth inning to rally the Athletics to victory to put the A's up 3 games to 1.

Oakland left-handed starting pitcher Ken Holtzman shut out the Reds on four hits through seven innings and had a 1–0 lead behind Tenace's third homer of the series. With two outs in the eighth inning and Dave Concepción on second base, A's manager Dick Williams brought in left-hander Vida Blue to face left-handed hitters Joe Morgan and Bobby Tolan. But Blue walked Morgan and allowed a clutch two-run double to Tolan, giving Cincinnati the lead as the Reds seemed poised to tie the series at 2 games apiece.

In the bottom of the ninth, however, with one out, the A's strung together four consecutive hits to score two runs. Pinch hitter Gonzalo Márquez singled, Tenace followed with a single, Don Mincher followed with another pinch-hit single scoring pinch-runner Allan Lewis to tie the game before a third pinch-hitter, Ángel Mangual, singled off Clay Carroll to score Tenace with the game-winner to put Oakland up three games to one. It was the first time that a team collected three pinch hits in the same World Series inning.

Game 5

Friday, October 20, 1972 1:00 pm (PT) at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 5 8 0
Oakland 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 7 2
WP: Ross Grimsley (1–1)   LP: Rollie Fingers (1–1)   Sv: Jack Billingham (1)
Home runs:
CIN: Pete Rose (1), Denis Menke (1)
OAK: Gene Tenace (4)

Up three games to one and with ace Catfish Hunter on the mound, the A's looked to close out Cincinnati. What made the Reds' outlook worse was ace pitcher Gary Nolan, who had been battling shoulder and neck issues during the regular season, was unable to pitch Game 5, forcing Reds' manager Sparky Anderson to pitch part-time starter Jim McGlothlin instead. But the Reds got a home run by Pete Rose to lead off the game. Rose would also drive in the game-winner in the ninth. The dramatic game ended when Joe Morgan threw out the potential game-tying run at the plate as the Reds staved off elimination.[18]

Trailing 1–0 in the second, Gene Tenace hit his fourth home run of the series, a three-run shot, to put Oakland up by two. McGlothlin was removed after pitching just three innings. The Reds cut the lead to 3–2 in the fourth on a home run by Denis Menke. Ángel Mangual put the A's back in front by two runs with a pinch-hit RBI single in the fourth.

The Reds continued to answer. With two outs in the fifth, Joe Morgan walked. With a 3–2 count on Bobby Tolan, Morgan broke for second and was able to score when Tolan lined a base hit into right-center field. The speedy Morgan and Tolan collaborated once again in the eighth. Morgan again walked, stole second and scored on another Tolan single to tie the game at 4.

In the ninth, Rose singled in the go-ahead run. The Reds preserved the lead when, with one out and runners on first and third, Bert Campaneris hit a foul pop on the first-base side that first baseman Tony Pérez appeared to call. Second baseman Morgan raced over, waved Perez off, caught the ball, slipped on the grass but got up and fired a throw to nail pinch runner Blue Moon Odom, who had tagged from third.

The Friday afternoon contest was the last non-weekend World Series day game. The three games in Oakland had all been scheduled to be played at night, but Game 3 was rained out, forcing Game 5 to be played on a Friday, originally scheduled as a travel day. The game was played in the afternoon (1 p.m. PT)[19] to allow ample time for the teams to travel to Cincinnati for Game 6 the next day.

Game 6

Saturday, October 21, 1972 1:00 pm (ET) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 7 1
Cincinnati 0 0 0 1 1 1 5 0 X 8 10 0
WP: Ross Grimsley (2–1)   LP: Vida Blue (0–1)   Sv: Tom Hall (1)
Home runs:
OAK: None
CIN: Johnny Bench (1)

Back at the friendly confines of Riverfront Stadium, the Reds tied the series at 3 games apiece with a rout. Johnny Bench, who had no RBI in the series to that point, broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with a homer off starter Vida Blue. The A's fought back on a Dick Green RBI double in their half of the fifth, but from then on it was all Reds. Dave Concepción had a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Tony Pérez an RBI single in the sixth (his first RBI of the Series). The Reds then broke it open with a five-run seventh an RBI single by Joe Morgan and a pair of two-run singles by Bobby Tolan and César Gerónimo.

Game 7

Sunday, October 22, 1972 1:00 pm (ET) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 6 1
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 4 2
WP: Catfish Hunter (2–0)   LP: Pedro Borbón (0–1)   Sv: Rollie Fingers (2)

Gene Tenace capped a spectacular World Series with two hits, two RBI and he also scored the game-winning run in the sixth inning on Sal Bando's double.

Oakland scored an unearned run in the first inning off Jack Billingham when Reds center fielder Bobby Tolan misplayed a fly ball by Mangual into a 3-base error. Mangual scored on a two-out single by Tenace on a ball that hit a seam in the Astroturf and bounced over the head of third baseman Denis Menke. The Reds tied the game in the fifth on a bases loaded sacrifice fly to the center field wall by Hal McRae. However, McRae was pinch hitting for Billingham who had allowed no earned runs in ​13 23 innings in the series against the A's. His replacement in the sixth inning, Pedro Borbón, surrendered RBI doubles to Tenace and Bando. Bando's drive appeared catchable, but Tolan pulled up short of the wall due to a strained hamstring and the ball went over Tolan to the base of the wall. He was later removed from the game on a double switch. The Reds closed to within 3–2 in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Perez, but A's closer Rollie Fingers shut down the Reds in the ninth.

The World Series victory for the Oakland A's was the first for the franchise since the days of Connie Mack when the team was in Philadelphia and had won in 1930. The victory ensured manager Dick Williams' return for another year. It was the Athletics' sixth World Series title, and the first of three consecutive titles. This was the last time to date that an American League team had won a World Series Game 7 on the road until 2017, when the Houston Astros did so in Los Angeles.

Composite box

1972 World Series (4–3): Oakland A's (A.L.) over Cincinnati Reds (N.L.)

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland A's 1 6 1 1 3 2 0 0 2 16 46 9
Cincinnati Reds 1 1 0 3 3 1 6 4 2 21 46 5
Total attendance: 363,149   Average attendance: 51,878
Winning player's share: $20,705   Losing player's share: $15,080[20]

Source:[21]

Radio and television

  • This was Al Michaels' first World Series as a play-by-play man; he was then a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, Major League Baseball and NBC had a policy (which ended in 1977) in which announcers from the participating World Series teams were allowed to commentate on the national television and radio broadcasts. Michaels would not call another World Series until 1979, after he had joined ABC Sports.

Notes

  1. ^ "Strife-riddled A's reign as kings". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. October 23, 1972. p. 15.
  2. ^ "Tenace, Williams' moves make A's world champs: 3-2". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. October 23, 1972. p. 6.
  3. ^ Leggett, William (October 30, 1972). "Mustaches all the way". Sports Illustrated. p. 20.
  4. ^ a b "Athletics end drought". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. October 13, 1972. p. 15.
  5. ^ Dickson, Paul (1989). The Dickson Baseball Dictionary. United States: Facts on File. p. 192. ISBN 0816017417.
  6. ^ "A Blue day for Detroit -- Aggressive A's win it 2-1". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. October 13, 1972. p. 20.
  7. ^ "Blue, Odom pitch A's past Tigers, into series". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. October 13, 1972. p. 13.
  8. ^ Fimrite, Ron (October 23, 1972). "A big beginning for the little league". Sports Illustrated. p. 27.
  9. ^ "1972 World Series Game 1 – Oakland A's vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  10. ^ "1972 World Series Game 2 – Oakland A's vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  11. ^ "1972 World Series Game 3 – Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland A's". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  12. ^ "1972 World Series Game 4 – Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland A's". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  13. ^ "1972 World Series Game 5 – Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland A's". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  14. ^ "1972 World Series Game 6 – Oakland A's vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  15. ^ "1972 World Series Game 7 – Oakland A's vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  16. ^ "Robinson made boss". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). Associated Press. October 3, 1974. p. 15.
  17. ^ "Robby wants merit label". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. October 4, 1974. p. 2, part 2.
  18. ^ "Rose supplies the medicine as Reds stay alive". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. October 21, 1972. p. 1B.
  19. ^ "Oakland on brink of Series win". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire services. October 20, 1972. p. 1D.
  20. ^ "World Series Gate Receipts and Player Shares". Baseball Almanac. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  21. ^ "The Series composite". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). October 23, 1972. p. 4B.

See also

References

  • Cohen, Richard M.; Neft, David S. (1990). The World Series: Complete Play-By-Play of Every Game, 1903–1989. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 340–344. ISBN 0-312-03960-3.
  • Reichler, Joseph (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.). Macmillan Publishing. p. 2188. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.
  • Forman, Sean L. "1972 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com – Major League Statistics and Information. Archived from the original on November 30, 2007. Retrieved December 9, 2007.

External links

1972 American League Championship Series

The 1972 American League Championship Series took place between October 7 and 12, 1972. The Oakland Athletics (93–62 on the season) played the Detroit Tigers (86–70 on the season) for the right to go to the 1972 World Series, with the A's coming out on top in the five-game series, 3–2. Games 1 and 2 took place at the Oakland Coliseum, and 3 through 5 took place at Tiger Stadium.

1972 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1972 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds winning the National League West title with a record of 95–59, 10½ games over the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They defeated the previous year's World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series, but lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games in the 1972 World Series. The Reds were managed by Sparky Anderson.

The theme for the Reds was "Redemption" after a disastrous 1971 season that saw the Reds fall from a World Series participant in 1970 to a sub .500 team a year later. In fact, the March 13, 1972, Sports Illustrated edition featured the Reds on the front cover headlining "Redemption for the Reds." The Reds won 102 games in 1970, but only 79 a year later. A major catalyst for the Reds, Bobby Tolan, ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the winter of 1971, and he missed the entire '71 MLB season. Nearly every Reds regular, including Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Pérez, Bernie Carbo and David Concepcion, had significant decreases in their production from 1970. The lone exception was popular first baseman Lee May, who set career highs in home runs (39) and slugging percentage (.532).

Reds fans, en masse, were shocked and dismayed when, on November 29, 1971, Cincinnati Reds General Manager Bob Howsam traded May, Gold Glove winning second baseman Tommy Helms and key utility man Jimmy Stewart to division rival Houston Astros for second baseman Joe Morgan, third baseman Denis Menke, pitcher Jack Billingham, little used outfielder Cesar Geronimo and minor leaguer Ed Armbrister. The trade turned out to be one of the best trades in Reds history. Morgan would escape the cavernous Houston Astrodome to a more hitter-friendly Riverfront Stadium home park. Surrounded by more talent in Cincinnati, Morgan would become one of the more productive power-speed players in the entire decade on his way to eventual induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Morgan and Geronimo would also go on to each win multiple Gold Glove awards, as Geronimo manned right field until 1974 when he would take over in center field. Billingham would go on to win 12 games in 1972 and 50 total in his first three years with the Reds. Billingham's best moments came in the 1972 World Series when he threw ​13 2⁄3 innings allowing no earned runs in collecting a win, a save, and a no decision in Game 7.

With Rose, Morgan and a healthy Tolan at the top of the lineup, a rejuvenated Bench was the recipient as the Reds' cleanup hitter. Rebounding from the 1971 disaster when Bench only drove in 61 runs, he slammed 40 home runs and had a major league-best 125 RBI. Bench also walked a career-high 100 times on his way to NL MVP honors.

Cincinnati got off to a slow start, winning only eight of their first 21 games before winning nine straight. The Reds were still only 20–18 when they went into Houston to play the retooled Astros for a four-game series, May 29 – June 1, at the Astrodome, a notorious pitchers park. But the Reds scored 39 runs in the series and won all four games. The Reds went into the July 23 All-Star break with a 6½ game lead over the Astros and an 8-game lead over the Dodgers. Neither team seriously threatened the Reds in the second half.

Reds ace Gary Nolan won 13 of his 15 decisions by July 13, only 79 games into the season. But Nolan suffered a series of neck and shoulder ailments that forced him out of the All Star game and limited him to a total of 25 starts. He spent much of the second-half on the disabled list resting and then rehabbing. He won two games after the All-Star break. Nolan still finished second in the National League in ERA (1.99) to Philadelphia's Steve Carlton (1.97). Morgan (122 runs scored, 16 home runs, 73 RBI, 58 stolen bases, .292 average) finished fourth in MVP voting, while Rose (107 runs, 198 hits, 11 triples, .307 avg.) and reliever Clay Carroll (37 saves, 2.25 ERA) were 12th and 13th, respectively, in the MVP voting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, three games to two, in an exciting 1972 National League Championship Series, the first time in its four-year history the NLCS had gone five games. The World Series against the Oakland A's was equally as epic, with the Reds falling in Game 7, 3–2, the sixth game of the series decided by a single run.

1972 Japan Series

The 1972 Japan Series was the 23rd edition of Nippon Professional Baseball's postseason championship series. It matched the Central League champion Yomiuri Giants against the Pacific League champion Hankyu Braves. This was the fifth time in the last six years that the two teams had met in the Japan Series, with the Giants having won all previous matchups. The Giants defeated the Braves in five games to win their eighth consecutive title.

1972 Oakland Athletics season

The 1972 Oakland Athletics season involved the A's winning the American League West with a record of 93 wins and 62 losses. In the playoffs, they defeated the Detroit Tigers in a five-game ALCS, followed by a seven-game World Series, in which they defeated the Cincinnati Reds for their first World Championship since 1930, when the club was in Philadelphia.

1972 World Series of Poker

The 1972 World Series of Poker (WSOP) was a series of poker tournaments held during early May 1972 at the Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the 3rd annual installment of the World Series of Poker, and also the 2nd one to feature the freezeout structure. In comparison with the previous year's series, the number of events was cut back and the buy-ins were raised, resulting in one preliminary event and the Main Event both having the same buy-in of $10,000 (equals about $54,000 in 2011 U.S. dollars). The preliminary event featured 5-card stud poker and was won by Bill Boyd, the same man who won the 1971 5-card stud preliminary event. The previous years' double champion Johnny Moss was defeated early in the main event and Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston went on to win the tournament after a series of deals.

1973 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1973 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds winning the National League West with a Major League-best record of 99–63, 3½ games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, before losing the NLCS to the New York Mets in five games. The Reds were managed by Sparky Anderson, and played their home games at Riverfront Stadium.

The Reds were coming off a devastating loss in seven games to the underdog Oakland Athletics in the 1972 World Series. The offseason didn't start well for the Reds. In the winter, a growth was removed from the lung of Cincinnati's star catcher, Johnny Bench. While Bench played the entire 1973 season, his power numbers dropped from 40 home runs in 1972 to 25 in '73. He never again reached the 40 homer mark, something he accomplished in two of the three seasons prior to the surgery.

Coming into the season, the defending NL Champion Reds were still favored to win the strong NL West against the likes of the Houston Astros, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the San Francisco Giants. The Reds' lineup returned virtually intact, with the exception of third base where the Reds tried to make a third baseman out of rookie Dan Driessen, a solid hitter (.301 average) who had played mostly first base in the minor leagues. With Tony Pérez fully entrenched at first base, the Reds wanted to get Driessen's bat in the lineup and his playing time was at the expense of the anemic hitting Denis Menke (.191), although the Reds were sacrificing defense with Driessen at the hot corner. The other change was at shortstop, where Dave Concepción emerged from a 1972 timeshare with Darrel Chaney to full-time starter, finally realizing his potential in his fourth year in the majors. Concepción was outstanding both at bat and in the field and was named to the NL All-Star team. But two days before the mid-summer classic on July 22, in a game against the Montreal Expos, Concepción broke his ankle sliding into third base after moving from first base on a Menke base hit, and missed the second half of the season. Concepción was batting .287, with eight home runs, 46 RBI, 39 runs scored and 22 stolen bases, all career highs despite missing almost half the season.

The Reds had other hurdles to overcome. Cincinnati's pitching ace, Gary Nolan (15–5, 1.99 ERA in '72), suffered from a sore arm that limited him to two starts and 10 innings pitched before it was discovered he had a torn ligament in his right elbow. The injury would force Nolan to also miss the entire 1974 season. There was also an issue with centerfielder Bobby Tolan. He slumped badly to .206, became a malcontent, and had several squabbles with members of Reds management, who were still unhappy with his 1971 basketball injury that cost him that season as well as Tolan's error in Game 7 of the 1972 World Series against Oakland that was arguably the key play in that game. Tolan went AWOL for two days in August 1973, and broke team rules by growing a beard. On September 27, the team suspended Tolan for the remainder of the season including the NLCS.

The Reds started well, and were 25–16 about a quarter of the way through the season and led the second-place Dodgers by a 1½ games on May 23. But with Tolan, Menke and Bench mired in slumps and some of the Reds starting pitchers struggling, the Reds began to flounder. Reds general manager Bob Howsam determined the Reds offense would eventually come around, but the pitching staff needed help. With Nolan sidelined indefinitely and starters Jim McGlothlin and Roger Nelson struggling, Howsam traded for San Diego Padres left-hander Fred Norman on June 12. At the time of the trade, the 5-foot-8 lefty was 1–7 for the last-place Padres, but Norman would go 12–6 in 24 starts for the Reds to provide a major boost.

The Reds were still in a slump when they met the Dodgers for a July 1, doubleheader in Cincinnati. The Reds were 39–37 and trailed the Dodgers (51–27) by 11 games. Just as they had done 12 years earlier, the Reds swept the Dodgers in a doubleheader to jumpstart their pennant hopes. In Game 1, Cincinnati's third-string catcher, Hal King, belted a game-winning, three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off Don Sutton to give the Reds a 4–3 victory. In Game 2, Tony Pérez singled in the game-winner off knuckleball specialist Charlie Hough in the bottom of the 10th as the Reds won 3–2. The doubleheader sweep was part of a stretch where Cincinnati won 10 of 11 games and by July 10, had cut the Dodgers' lead to 4½ games.

Both teams stayed close throughout the season, but on Aug. 29, the Reds beat Pittsburgh, 5–3, to begin a seven-game winning streak. After losing two to the Braves, the Reds began another seven-game winning streak to gain some space between the Dodgers. Los Angeles came into Cincinnati for a two-game series, Sept. 11–12, trailing the Reds by 3 games with 18 left on the schedule. A two-run home run by rookie Ken Griffey was the big hit in the Reds' 6–3 victory on Sept. 11, and the Reds completed the sweep the next day as Jack Billingham hurled a complete-game and, the typically poor hitter (.065 average), also belted a bases-clearing double off LA starter Claude Osteen in a 7–3 victory. The Dodgers left Cincinnati trailing by five games. On Sept. 24, the Reds beat San Diego, 2–1, to clinch their second-straight division title and third in four years. It sent the Reds to the 1973 NLCS against the New York Mets.

The Reds offense was led by Pete Rose (team-record 230 hits, 115 runs scored, an NL best .338 batting average), Joe Morgan (116 runs, 26 home runs, 82 RBI, 67 stolen bases, .290 avg.) and Perez (.314, 27, 101). Rose was voted the National League MVP, while Morgan finished fourth and Perez seventh in a vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Jack Billingham emerged as the staff ace, leading the National League in both innings pitched (293) and shutouts (7) to go with 19 victories, while young lefty Don Gullett won 11 of his last 12 decisions to finish 18–8.

Future stars Griffey and George Foster also played well in short stays with the Reds. Griffey batted .384 in 86 at bats in his major league debut, while Foster hit .282 and smacked four home runs in just 39 at bats. Journeyman third-string catcher Hal King also emerged as an unsung hero. King hit three pinch hit home runs, all of which either tied or won games late including a three-run home run off Los Angeles Dodger starter Don Sutton on July 1 to win a game for the Reds.

Amarillo Slim

Thomas Austin Preston Jr. (December 31, 1928 – April 29, 2012), known as Amarillo Slim, was an American professional gambler known for his poker skills and proposition bets. Preston won the 1972 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.

Blue Moon Odom

Johnny Lee "Blue Moon" Odom (born May 29, 1945) is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1964 to 1976 for the Kansas City / Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago White Sox. Odom won three consecutive World Series championships with the Athletics in 1972, 1973 and 1974.

Clay Carroll

Clay Palmer Carroll (born May 2, 1941) is a former relief pitcher in Major League Baseball with a 15-year career from 1964 to 1978. He pitched for the Milwaukee Braves and Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates, all of the National League, and the Chicago White Sox of the American League.

Gene Tenace

Fury Gene Tenace (; born Fiore Gino Tennaci; October 10, 1946), better known as Gene Tenace, is an American former professional baseball player and coach in Major League Baseball. He was a catcher and first baseman from 1969 through 1983. Tenace was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics from Valley High School in Lucasville, Ohio and played for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted and threw right-handed. Tenace was one of the top catchers of his era and won the 1972 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. After his playing days ended, Tenace coached for several organizations, most notably for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jim McGlothlin

James Milton McGlothlin (October 6, 1943 – December 23, 1975), nicknamed "Red", was an American Major League Baseball pitcher. He graduated from Reseda High School in 1961 and was signed as an amateur free agent by the California Angels. During a 9-year Major League career, he pitched for Angels (1965–1969), Cincinnati Reds (1970–73), and Chicago White Sox (1973).

He made his Major League debut at age 21 on September 20, 1965, allowing four earned runs in five innings in a 4-2 home loss against the Baltimore Orioles.He was named to the American League All-Star team in 1967, a season in which he tied for the AL lead in shutouts, had a career-high nine complete games and posted a 12–8 record and a 2.96 earned run average. After having already started in 29 games that season, McGlothlin pitched in relief in the second games of both doubleheaders versus the Detroit Tigers on the final weekend of that season, and was the winning pitcher in the final game, which eliminated the Tigers from the pennant race.

McGlothlin won a career-high 14 games for the 1970 National League champion Reds. He was the Reds' starting pitcher in one game each in both the 1970 and 1972 World Series. He last pitched for the White Sox at age 29 on September 28, 1973.McGlothlin died of leukemia at age 32 on December 23, 1975 at his home in Union, Kentucky, near Cincinnati. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Johnny Bench

Johnny Lee Bench (born December 7, 1947) is an American former professional baseball catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bench is a 14-time All-Star selection and a two-time National League Most Valuable Player. He was a key member of the Big Red Machine that won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. Known for his prowess on both offense and defense, ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.

Mike Hegan

James Michael "Mike" Hegan (July 21, 1942 – December 25, 2013) was an American professional baseball player, who later worked as a sports commentator. In Major League Baseball (MLB) he was a first baseman and outfielder, and played for three different American League (AL) franchises between 1964 and 1977. He was the son of longtime Cleveland Indians catcher Jim Hegan.

Ron Clark (baseball)

Ronald Bruce Clark (born January 14, 1943) is a former American Major League Baseball third baseman, shortstop, and second baseman. Clark graduated from Brewer High School in Fort Worth, Texas. He played for the Minnesota Twins (1966–1969), Seattle Pilots (1969), Oakland Athletics (1971–1972), Milwaukee Brewers (1972), and Philadelphia Phillies (1975). During a 7-year baseball career, Clark hit .189, 5 home runs, and 43 runs batted in.

He helped the Twins in the first half of the season en route to winning the 1969 American League Western Division. Clark also helped the Athletics win the 1971 AL Western Division and the 1972 World Series.

Clark joined the Phillies as a minor league manager. He began in the 1978 Western Carolinas League, and also managed the Peninsula Pilots, Reading Phillies, Oklahoma City 89ers, and Clearwater Phillies.

Steve Blass

Stephen Robert Blass (born April 18, 1942) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher and a current broadcast announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ted Uhlaender

Theodore Otto Uhlaender (October 21, 1939 – February 12, 2009) was a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds from 1965–1972. He was also the father of Olympic women's skeleton competitor Katie Uhlaender.Signed by the Twins out of Baylor University in 1961, he made his major league debut four years later. He was ineligible for the 1965 World Series because his promotion occurred after the August 31 deadline. He became the team's starting center fielder for the next four seasons. Despite the 1968 campaign being totally dominated by pitchers, he managed to finish with a .283 batting average, fifth in the American League . He followed that up with his most productive season, establishing career highs with 152 games played, 93 runs scored, 151 hits and 62 runs batted in (RBI). His first playoff experience was in the 1969 American League Championship Series, with one hit in six at-bats.

He was traded along with Graig Nettles, Dean Chance and Bob Miller to the Indians for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams on December 10, 1969. He started in center in 1970, before being shifted to left field the next season.

After he was acquired by the Reds for Milt Wilcox on December 6, 1971, Uhlaender spent his last year as a player in the majors strictly as a reserve outfielder. He served as a pinch hitter during the postseason, going 1-for-2 in the National League Championship Series and getting a double out of four at-bats in the 1972 World Series.

Years after his playing career ended, Uhlaender returned to the Indians in 2000, spending two seasons as the first-base coach under manager Charlie Manuel. He was a scout for the San Francisco Giants from 2002 until learning he had multiple myeloma in 2008.Uhlaender died of a heart attack at his ranch in Atwood, Kansas on February 12, 2009, just before his daughter Katie finished second in the women's skeleton World Cup season finale at Utah Olympic Park. Uhlaender's wife, Karen, stated that Katie did not know he had died until after the competition was finished. In memory of her father, she wears around her neck his ring from the 1972 Cincinnati Reds season in which the Reds won the National League pennant.

Tim Cullen

Timothy Leo Cullen (born February 16, 1942 in San Francisco, California) is a former infielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Washington Senators (1966–67, 1968–71), Chicago White Sox (1968) and Oakland Athletics (1972). He batted and threw right-handed.

In a six-season career, Cullen was a .220 hitter with nine home runs and 134 RBI in 700 games.

A star baseball and basketball player at Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, Cullen was selected an All-CAL infielder twice and an All-CAL guard as a senior. Later, he was a two-sport star at Santa Clara University and played in the College World Series.

Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1964, Cullen debuted with the Senators in 1966. A Topps Rookie All-Star in his inaugural season, he appeared in the 1972 World Series with Oakland. Like Gonzalo Márquez, Cullen was a valuable utility for the World Championship team providing support from the bench during the regular season.

In his career, Cullen was a competent infielder with good instincts and an avid student of the game; but he couldn’t helped himself with the bat. Even when he hit in the low .200s, Cullen's glove was enough to get him a considerable playing time. He was an above-average major league second baseman and an adequate shortstop and third baseman as well. Nevertheless, a rare feat earned him a place in baseball's record book.

In February 1968, Cullen was sent to the White Sox a deal for, among others, shortstop Ron Hansen. In a curious movement, he was then shipped back mid-season to Washington for Hansen, making them the only two players in MLB history to be traded for one another twice in the same season.

Currently a resident of Fresno, California, Cullen serves as the vice president of special projects for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, a SF Giants minor league affiliate team.

Ángel Mangual

Ángel Luis Mangual Guilbe (March 19, 1947) is a former professional baseball outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball over parts of 7 seasons (1969, 1971–1976) with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics. Mangual was a member of the 3-time World Series champion Athletics of the early 1970s. For his career he batted .245 with 22 home runs and 125 runs batted in in 450 games.

In Game 4 of the 1972 World Series, Mangual hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning, the A's winning 3-2, and taking a 3-1 lead in the series.

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