2015 July


– Which was the best team in Major League Baseball?

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One of the favorite arguments among baseball aficionados is, “What Major League team is considered the greatest of all time?” Inevitably, the 1976 Cincinnati Reds is matched against the 1927 New York Yankees, two great teams from different eras. First, I would like to make my case for the Reds as I was fortunate to have watched them during the 1970’s. I also have a fondness for the Yankees, particularly this legendary group from the 1920’s who dominated the baseball world in their heyday.

1976 Cincinnati Reds – nicknamed “The Big Red Machine” (1970-1976) Won two back-to-back World Series titles (1975-1976). Was in the World Series four times during this period. The team’s combined record from 1970-1976 was 683 wins and 443 losses, an average of nearly 98 wins per season. In 1976, their record was 102-60, a record for the time. During the 1976 All-Star Game, the Reds dominated by having five players in the starting line-up, Bench, Rose, Morgan, Foster, and Concepción. Also in 1976, they swept the New York Yankees in the World Series 4-0, with an accumulated score of 22-8.

The team was best known for its speedy offense and “Gold Glove” defense.

Starting players:

Johnny Bench (C) – Hall of Fame. Reds retired his number, 5 1970 and 1972 NL MVP (same years the Reds went to the World Series). 1976 World Series MVP. MLB All-Century Team. MLB All-Time Team. All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team. 14 time All Star. 10 time Gold Glove. 1970 NL HR Champ (45) 1972 NL HR Champ (40) NL Rookie of the Year (1968). Career HR: 389. Career RBI: 1,376. Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Babe Ruth Award. Hutch Award.

In 1976, 16 HR, 74 RBI.

Dave Concepción (SS) – Reds retired his number, 13. 9 time All Star; MVP (1982). 5 time Gold Glove winner.

In 1976, .281 average, 21 stolen bases.

George Foster (LF) – 1977 NL MVP. 5 time All Star; MVP (1976). 2 time NL home run champ (1977, 1978). 3 time NL RBI champ (1976-1978). Silver Slugger Award (1981).

In 1976, .306 average, 172 hits, 29 HR, 121 RBI.

César Gerónimo (CF) – Four consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1974 to 1977

In 1976, .307 average, 22 stolen bases.

Ken Griffey (RF) – 3 time MLB All-Star; MVP in 1980

In 1976, .336 average, 189 hits, 34 stolen bases.

Joe Morgan (2B) – Hall of Fame. Reds retired his number, 8. 1975 and 1976 NL MVP (same years the Reds won the World Series). 10 time All Star; MVP (1972). 5 time Gold Glove. Silver Slugger Award.

In 1976, .320 average, 151 hits, 60 stolen bases.

Tony Perez (1B) – Hall of Fame. Reds retired his number, 24. 7 time All-Star; MVP 1967. Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Career HR: 379. Career RBI: 1,652.

In 1976, 19 HR, 91 RBI.

Pete Rose (3B) “Charlie Hustle” – 1973 NL MVP. 1975 World Series MVP. 17 time All Star. Won 1970 All-Star Game. 2 time Gold Glove. Silver Slugger Award. 3 time batting champion (Silver Bat Awards). Career Hits: 4,256 (MLB Hits King). NL hitting streak record (44). NL Rookie of the Year (1963). MLB All-Century Team. Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Roberto Clemente Award. Most seasons of 200 or more hits – 10 (shared). Only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions – 1B (939), LF (671), 3B (634), 2B (628), RF (595) And many other MLB records.

In 1976, .323 average, 215 hits.

Gary Nolan (P) – 1972 All Star.

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Sparky Anderson – Manager – Hall of Fame. His #10 was retired in Cincinnati. 3 times World Series champion; twice with the Reds and once with the Detroit Tigers. He was the first manager to win championships in both the National and American Leagues.

American League Manager of the Year in 1984 and 1987.

The unsung hero of the Reds was their General Manager, Bob Howsam, who helped engineer the team. As GM, he built up the club’s farm system, producing players such as Concepcion and Griffey. In 1971, he crafted a deal with the Houston Astros which brought Morgan, Foster and Geronimo to the Reds. He was also the man who replaced veteran manager Dave Bristol with an unknown, Sparky Anderson.

1927 New York Yankees – nicknamed “Murderers’ Row” (1926–1928) Won two back-to-back World Series titles (1927-1928). Was in the World Series three years in a row.In 1927, their record was 110–44, a record for the time.Also in 1927, they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series 4-0, with an accumulated score of 23-10.

The team was best known for its awesome batting.

Starting players:

Pat Collins (C) – Capable catcher but was traded after the 1927 season.

In 1927, .275 average.

Earl Combs (OF) – Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee. Lead off batter.

In 1927, .356 average, 231 hits.

Joe Duggan (3B) – Finished his career with a .957 fielding percentage as a third baseman.

In 1927, .269 average.

Lou Gehrig (1B) “The Iron Horse” – Hall of Fame. First player to have his uniform number retired in MLB, 4. 1927 AL MVP, same year as winning the World Series, and 1936. 7 time All Star. Triple Crown winner (1934). AL Batting Champ (1934). Career HR: 493. Career RBI: 1,993. Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games, a record that lasted several years until Cal Ripkin, Jr. or the Orioles broke it in 1995. MLB All-Century Team. MLB All-Time Team.

In 1927, .373 average, 47 HR, 175 RBI.

Mark Koenig (SS) – Batting a team-leading .500 in the 1927 World Series.

In 1926, .285 average, 150 hits, led the AL in errors (47).

Tony Lazzeri (2B) – Hall of Fame (posthumously by Veterans Committee). 1 time All Star. Considered one of the top hitting second basemen of his era.

In 1927, .309 average, 102 RBI.

Bob Muesel (OF) – AL Home run champion (1925). AL RBI Champion (1925).

In 1927, .337, 174 hits.

Babe Ruth (OF) “The Bambino,” “The Sultan of Swat” – Hall of Fame. Yankees retired his number, 3. 2 time All Star. 1923 AL MVP. AL Batting Champion (1924). AL ERA Champion (1916). Career HR: 714. Career RBI: 1,992. Played on 7 World Series Champion Teams. Named the greatest baseball player of all time in various surveys and rankings. MLB All-Century Team. MLB All-Time Team.

In 1927, .356 average, 60 HR.

Wayte Hoyt (P) – Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee.

In 1927, 22 game winner, most in AL.

Miller Huggins – Manager
3 times World Series champion with the Yankees.

When you look at the statistics between the two teams, an interesting picture emerges:


1927 YANKEES 1976 REDS
HITS 1,314 1,284
RBI 749 652
HR 151 118
SB ? 186
SO* 308 525
ERA* 3.192 3.064


1927 YANKEES 1976 REDS
MVP 2 (3 years) 4 (for 6 years)
ALL-STARS 3 7 (5 became MVP) (69 appearances in total)
GOLD GLOVE** N/A 5 (26 GG total)

* Two were awarded by the MLB Veterans Committee.

** Gold Glove started in 1957, after the 1927 Yankees.

From the statistics, the Yankees had a definite edge in terms of batting, which explains how they received the nickname “Murderers’ Row.” Pitchers were simply intimidated by them. Both Ruth and Gehrig had superlative seasons in 1927, particularly in terms of slugging. In addition, five players of the starting rotation batted over .300.

The Reds also had five players of the starting rotation batting over .300, but they also had speed, defense and balanced pitching. Whereas the talent of the Yankees was primarily vested in Ruth, Gehrig, Combs, and Lazzeri, the Reds represent a more complete team of talent.

In reality, this is not about which team is better, but instead, it denotes the attributes of a great team. Both the Reds and the Yankees had truly great players, great coaching, discipline on the field, but also knew how to have fun. Any differences or opposing attitudes were put aside for the sake of the team.

The key though was their ability to play as a cohesive unit, where each player watched the back of the other. This is also a fine example of leadership, where the great players inspired the others to play at a higher level. As role models, they set an example for others to emulate. For example, the friendly competition between sluggers Ruth and Gehrig, resulted in Ruth hitting his record 60 home runs in 1927, and Gehrig gathering 175 RBI. This helped push others like Combs to collect 231 hits, and Muesel and Lazzeri to collect over 100 RBI each.

On the Reds side, players like Bench, Rose, Morgan and Perez led the team. On the field, Bench was the field general who controlled the game. From his vantage point behind home plate, he could see everything and instructed the defense accordingly. Rose and Morgan were the spark plugs who charged the machine into action, and Perez was a mentor to the younger players.

It was much more than just talented players, both teams were examples of leadership determined to achieve greatness.

Regardless whether you prefer the Reds or Yankees, we will probably never see the likes of such teams again in our lifetime.
Keep the Faith!Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field.

He can be reached at [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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