July 16, 2006

Remembering Lee May, Tom Seaver, Tom Browning

Today three of the Reds' all-time greats were formally inducted into the team's Hall of Fame: Lee May, Tom Seaver, and Tom Browning.

May got traded away in 1971 before the Big Red Machine had its best years in '75 and '76, and he largely gets forgotten about by many Reds fans as a result. But he wasn't known as “The Big Bopper” for no reason. May hit a lot of very meaningful homers for the Reds while he was playing in Cinci. One I'll always remember was the last game ever played at old Crosley Field. It was in 1970, and after Johnny Bench had homered to tie the game in the eighth inning, May came up and took Juan Marichal deep to beat the Giants, 5-4. It was the last homer anybody ever hit at Crosley Field.

I also remember a game in St. Louis later that year where the Reds and Cardinals took a scoreless tie into extra innings. Lee May won it for the Reds with a grand slam. Less than a month later against the Phillies, he drove in all the Reds' runs in a game the reds eventually won, 5-4. May tied it with a homer in the ninth - his second HR of the game - and won it with an RBI single in the 14th.

Seaver is mostly remembered by baseball fans as a Met, a member of the Miracle Mets in 1969. I remember him for that, too. But I also remember that Tom Terrific was wearing a Reds uniform in three of his appearances in the All-Star game, and he was wearing a Reds uniform when he threw his only career no-hitter, in 1978 against the Cardinals in St. Louis. I was on vacation that week and listened to that game on the radio. When George Hendrick grounded out to Dan Driessen at first base to end that game, my family needed crowbars to peel me off the ceiling.

Tom Browning went Seaver one better some ten years later (in 1988), pitching a 1-0 perfect game against the Dodgers in Riverfront Stadium. So far, it's been the only perfect game in Reds history. Although I can't confirm it, I read somewhere that it’s the only time a perfect game was thrown against the team that would go on to win the world championship that same season. Browning also was a World Series winner with the Reds in 1990, when he led the team with 15 wins.

It is fitting that these three men should join the other Reds greats recognized in the Reds Hall Of fame, and on this, the occasion of their official enshrinement, I salute Lee May, Tom Seaver, and Tom Browning. Thanks for the many fond memories, guys!

John (KC2HMZ)

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