Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds”

1975-Reds-book-cover.previewThe Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds. Edited by Mark Armour. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.

I remember well the “Big Red Machine,” the Cincinnati Reds of the mid-1970s. They infuriated me as they seemingly steamrolled over every team that I rooted for. With a Hall of Fame Manager, Sparky Anderson, three Hall of Fame players (Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez), and a third who should be in the Hall of Fame but has thus far been barred from that recognition despite leading all players in career hits (Pete Rose), they were unstoppable in 1975 and 1976. They reeled off 108 wins in the regular season in 1975 and beat the Boston Red Sox what many still consider the most exciting, entertaining, and thrilling 7-game World Series ever played. The next year they decimated the New York Yankees in a four game sweep in the World Series.

This book focuses on the 1975 season and the Reds players that made it so memorable. In addition to the four mentioned above a superb supporting cast of four more everyday players—Dave Concepción, George Foster, Ken Griffey Sr., and César Gerónimo—constitutes the “Great Eight” discussed here.

There are biographical sketches of all of the players for the team and many of the Reds staff, as well as essays about a variety of other topics relating to the success of the teams in the summer of 1975. Of course, there is a rousing discussion of the playoffs and the World Series against the Red Sox. Written by a large collection of authors with ties to the Society for American Baseball Research, and ably edited by Mark Armour, The Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds is a superb reference about the team the dominated the National League in the 1970s. With four pennants (1970, 1974, 1975, and 1976) and two world championships the Reds made history and deserve consideration in any discussion of the greatest team in baseball history.

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