Jody Reed was a smallish (5-feet-9, 170 pounds)1 and fiery middle infielder with a rocket for a throwing arm and a knack for hitting doubles. He was with the Red Sox from 1987 to 1992. He went on to shorter stints with the Dodgers, Brewers, Padres, and Tigers during an 11-year major-league career.
Reed gave 100% of himself on the field. His solid hitting, slick glove, and commitment to winning made him a favorite among his teammates. His witticisms made him a media favorite. He was a spirited negotiator, at times sacrificing salary to stand behind his words.
Reed was born on July 26, 1962, in Tampa, Florida to James and Barbara Reed. His father was a factory supervisor. His mother was a surgical technician and nurse. His stepfather was Lee Stange, the former pitcher and pitching coach. Jody introduced “the Stinger” to his mother at a Red Sox community function and they married in 1987.2 His brother Paul is an attorney. Another brother, Keith, passed in 2017.
Jody grew up in Brandon, Florida. At Brandon High School, he hit .440 and fielded well. Joe Perez, his coach there, said, “You can always count on Jody to make the big play when you need one…He’s a legitimate .300 hitter, he hits with power to any field.”3
Reed then attended Manatee Junior College. In two years there, he batted .375 and .333.4 The baseball coach at Manatee then, Tim Hill, said of Reed, “Pound for pound, he’s the best…he’s in the mold of a Bucky Dent and Freddie Patek.”5
Reed was selected by the Rangers and Giants in the 1982 drafts but chose to play baseball at Manatee and later Florida State University while pursuing a degree in criminology. The high school honor student planned to work in the legal field if baseball didn’t pan out. Reed excelled in the 1983 season for the Seminoles. He batted .308, with 97 runs scored, 8 home runs, 50 RBIs, 23 doubles, and 68 walks from the leadoff position.6 His coach at FSU, Mike Martin, called him “the glue; he is what makes Florida State’s baseball team.”7
Reed met teammate Jeff Gray, a pitcher, while enrolled at FSU. They hit it off immediately, becoming college roommates and best friends. Their friendship continued through their years as Red Sox teammates and endures to this day. Gray’s son, Reed, is named after Jody.
Reed registered outstanding stats in 1984, his senior year at FSU: a .337 average, 7 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 80 runs scored.8 He was the team MVP and the Metro Conference Tournament MVP, leading the Seminoles to the Metro championship.
Up to that time, he’d avoided going professional in order to continue his development. He was drafted a third time in 1983 (by the Rangers); though the money was a little higher, he did not sign.9
In June 1984, Reed felt ready. He was drafted and signed out of Florida State by Red Sox scout George Digby. Assigned to the Winter Haven Red Sox, he played his first professional game on June 10.
Reed made a good impression in Winter Haven, batting .271 with 14 doubles and 46 runs scored in 273 at-bats. He struck out rarely and walked frequently, posting a .384 OBP. However, he was thrown out eight times in 17 attempts to steal.
In 1985, playing again for Winter Haven, Reed was even better, leading the Florida State League in batting (.321), runs scored (95), and walks (94). His OBP was a superior .429. Winter Haven’s manager then, Dave Holt, said, “He’s a consistent performer who makes all the plays you ask for…he’s a little guy but you have to play him honest. You can’t play him too shallow, otherwise he’ll pop one over your head.”10
By preference, Reed was a shortstop since his childhood days. He played nowhere else during his two seasons at Winter Haven and the 265 games in his next two stops.
He split 1986 between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Pawtucket. The young Floridian struggled at first in the New England chill, hitting just .229 in 60 games with New Britain. Nevertheless, he was promoted to Pawtucket on June 19, 1986.11 He recalled this in a recent phone interview with the author.
“I was only in New Britain for about two months. After Winter Haven I went to New Britain. It was freezing! Coldest place on the planet, I thought, because I’m from Florida. It cut through my bones. I was playing terrible. I might have been hitting .210. Out of nowhere, the manager, Rac Slider, calls me in. Rac says, “Come over here, I got something for you. You’re going to Triple A.” So, I said,‘Thanks, that’s funny, Rac. I get what you’re thinking, but please don’t bust my stones.’ He said, “Hey, I just got the phone call. You’re going to Triple A. Pack your stuff up.” Well, I couldn’t believe it. I got promoted out of New Britain and it turned my season around.”12
Indeed, Reed hit .282 with 11 doubles and 30 RBIs in 69 games with Pawtucket. He struck out only 18 times in 270 at-bats.
Reed solidified his status as a future major-leaguer the next season in Pawtucket. After a slow start(.144 in his first 44 at-bats), he hit .381 in his last 51 games to finish the season at .296. For the 1987 season, Reed led all PawSox hitters in games, at-bats, runs, hits, sacrifice bunts, and walks while whiffing just 23 times. He made just six errors in his last 62 games and set the franchise records for most games, fielding percentage, and fewest errors at short.13
“[His] fielding has really kept us in or won more games than any player I have seen in the Sox system in the last seven years. He has an incredible arm for a guy his size,” said PawSox coach Mark Meleski.14
Reedwas called up to Boston on September 6, 1987. He made his first appearance six days later, as a pinch-runner. He sparkled in his first starton September 18, getting three hits (all singles) in six at-bats against Baltimore at Memorial Stadium. The second one drove in two teammates.
The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote that Reed hit well and made all the plays afield in his debut. Red Sox manager John McNamara acknowledged Reed’s success but was noncommittal when asked if Reed would start the next game. “Let me sleep on it. He didn’t do anything where he shouldn’t play.”15
In 1988, Reed’s stock rose sharply. This was the summer of Morgan Magic. Longtime Red Sox minor-league manager Joe Morganwas installed as skipper in Boston after McNamara was fired at the All-Star break. The team had slipped into mediocrity in May, June, and July after playing .700 ball in April. Morgan immediately led the team to 12 straight wins, 19 out of 20, as well as 19 straight at home– and ultimately, the AL East championship.
When the 1988 season began, Reed was not a starter. Behind shortstop Spike Owen and second baseman Marty Barrett, Reed got into only seven of the first 20 games. After Owen’s batting average registered .146 at the end of April, Reed got more time, but remained a part-timer until Morgan was promoted and promptly installed Reed as his starting shortstop for all but five of the team’s remaining 76 games. He finished with a .293 batting average, 28 RBIs, 60 runs scored, and a .380 on-base percentage. Some considered him the heir apparent at short for Boston and likened his fiery spirit to Rick Burleson.16
Years later Morgan told the press, “I figured that Reed would give us quite a bit more offense and that’s what he did. He hit .290 for me for three years.”17
Reed remembers McNamara, the situation, and his all-important conversation with Morgan in detail.
“Two weeks before the All-Star break, I’m struggling, hitting around .230. Mac calls me in his office. He says, ‘Listen, we may send you down to Triple A so you can get some at bats, get you back on track.’ And I said, ‘Mac, I had a really good year last year and I’m learning up here; I’m getting more comfortable every day. I don’t think going down is going to help me.’ By the end of the meeting, I had talked my way out of it. He said, ‘OK, tell you what. We’ll get to the All-Star break, I’ll talk it over with the powers that be, and we’ll make a decision (about demoting) then.’ I said fair enough.
Two days after the All-Star Game, he gets fired. The team is sputtering. We are nine back. Joe Morganis named the interim manager. I returned from a stay on Cape Cod that I had taken on the break just to clear my head from all of this. I walk past his office, and I hear Joe say, ‘Hey, Reeder. Come in here for a second.’ I go in and when he tells me to close the door behind me, I am absolutely certain I’m going to Triple A.
Morgan asks me, ‘You know why you’re in here?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m being sent down to Triple A.’ He said, ‘The hell you are. You are going to go out there and be in the lineup every single day. You are going to play every day for the rest of this year. Now get out there and play the game like I know you are capable of.’ Honestly, I walked out of that room as if a weight was lifted off me. Joe had confidence in me and trusted me. To this day I say that moment made my career. That’s why Joe’s my guy.”18
In the postseason, the Oakland Athletics swept Boston in the ALCS. Reed was 3-for-11 (.429 OBP) without either a run scored or batted in. He played error-free afield.
“It was fun, but the September drive was more fun,” Reed said of playing in the ALCS. The Red Sox clinched the division on the last day by one game over a Tigers team that had closed rapidly. “Man, oh, man, the energy from the fans that September. You never had to worry about being up for the game or being on cue. They made you that way.”19
Reed finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Oakland shortstop Walt Weiss and Angels reliever Bryan Harvey. He certainly had the credentials to win: he outhit Weiss by 43 points, outscored him by 16 runs, crushed him by 68 points in OBP, and was close in fielding percentage (.971 vs. .979). Even so, Weiss took 17 of the 28 first-place ballots.
“I have no problem with that,” Reed says about Weiss winning. “My thinking is his winning was correct because he did it for a full season. I wasn’t the starter for the full season, so I didn’t put together the full sample that Walt did. And Walt’s a really good player.”20
After his strong rookie season, Reed started slowly at the plate in 1989. His hitting picked up as temperatures rose, and he finished with another strong offensive season. Simultaneously, events beyond his control led him to switch to second base, which would remain his primary position until his career ended.
On June 4, 1989, Reed started at short. Ed Romero was filling in for a resting Marty Barrett, the regular second baseman. Barrett entered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, but his knee popped upon touching first as he ran out a grounder. His subsequent surgery and therapy were mismanaged by Red Sox team physician and part-owner, Dr. Arthur Pappas. Although Barrett returned on August 5 to play second base, and did so for 60 games in 1990, the knee injury brought his career to a premature end. Barrett was released after the 1990 season and as a Padre played just 12 more games. He was awarded $1.7 million in a subsequent lawsuit against Pappas.21
Reed filled the vacuum for Boston at second base.He finished 1989 by hitting .377 in his last 33 games. He notched a .288 final average with 42 doubles. He hit more two-baggers than every major-league player that year except for Kirby Puckett and Wade Boggs. He played wellboth at shortstop (.967 fielding percentage) and second base (.978).
Reed’s 1989 was auspicious for more than baseball. He married Michele Andrews, a Minnesota native, that November 11, in Hennepin, Minnesota. Over time, he and Michele had four daughters; Jessica, Kassidy, Chaney, and Sydney. Two granddaughters have followed.
On April 7, 1990, Reed’s FSU teammate and friend, Jeff Gray, signed with the Red Sox. Reed was ecstatic to be reunited with his buddy. The 1990season was another strongone for Reed. He batted .289 with 51 RBIs and 70 runs scored and a .371 OBP. He tied George Brett for the major-league lead in doubles with 45 and could easily have won outright with a slightly better finish. Brett had 12 doubles in his last 38 games while Reed had just four. Playing in 119 games at second base and 50 at short, Reed finished second to Harold Reynolds in the Gold Glove balloting forAL second basemen. He made six errors in 595 chances, a .990 fielding percentage.22
On July 17, 1990, Reed was put out in two triple plays in the same game. He is the only player ever to be so involved, according to the SABR Triple Play database.23 When asked about it by the media, he said, “I get it. I’m part of history. It’s like landing on the moon.”Such witty replies led the media to seek Reed out.24 Despite the triple killings, Boston beat Minnesota, 1-0, that day.
The 1990 Red Sox gave Reed his second chance to play in the postseason. As in 1988, Boston was swept 4-0 by Oakland in the ALCS.A’s pitching dominated, allowing only four runs in four games. Reed again played error-free ball.
1991 was the third consecutive season that Reed hit more than 40 doubles, with 42. He batted .283, with 5 home runs, 60 RBIs, with 87 runs scored. He played 152 games at second base and just six at shortstop.
He was delighted to watch his friend, Gray, become valuable for the Sox. Gray racked up a 2.34 ERA and 0.795 WHIP in 50 games. Sadly, the pitcher’s baseball career ended on July 29 when he suddenly experienced dizziness, numbness, and slurred speech at Fenway Park. At the time, Dr. Pappas told the press that Gray had not suffered a stroke; it was a spasm or migraine.25 Gray never pitched professionally again.
Reed headed toward the 1992 season with an unresolved contract. An arbitration hearing was held in February 1992. Although healthy offers had been exchanged and the two sides were just $350,000 apart ($1.9 million vs. $2.25 million), Reed stuck with his$2.25 million number as a matter of principle and consistency. The Red Sox had renewed his contract without a negotiation in 1990. He felt the team had kept him in a submissive position for four years. That wasn’t going to happen again. He also knew he could not do any worse than a $1.6 million contract in the arbitration, should he lose it.26 The Red Sox won but Reed’s salary nearly doubled.
On October 8, 1991, after the end of the season, Joe Morgan was replaced as manager by Butch Hobson in a surprise set of moves. General Manager Lou Gorman said the change was made solely because he was worried that Hobson might be hired to manage another major-league team. But under Hobson, Boston finished last in 1992, their worst season since divisional play began in 1969. Hobson’s tenure produced three sub-.500 teams that struggled with off years from Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens, who soon exited Boston, and a drained minor-league system.27
Given Reed and Morgan’s strong relationship, the change was disruptive in 1992. Reed’s offense dipped in his one year under Hobson. He batted .247 with27 doubles and 64 runs scored.
On November 17, 1992, Reed was taken by the Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Rudy Seanez.
In 1993, his age-30 season, Reed was the primary starter at second for the Dodgers, starting 129 games there. He batted .276, but with just 48runs scored and 21 doubles. When the year was over, he turned down a three-year, $8 million contract with the Dodgers and became a free agent. With Reed unsigned, the Dodgers traded 22-year-old Pedro Martinez, the future Hall of Famer, to the Montreal Expos for an experienced second baseman, Delino DeShields.28
With labor troubles brewing, Reed found the free agency waters cold. He signed a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on February 3, 1994, for $750,000.In the strike-shortened 1994 campaign, Reed gave the Brewers good value. He batted .271 with 22 doubles and 48 runs scored in 108 games.
After that season Reed was again a free agent. He went unsigned until April 19, 1995, shortly before the end of the spring lockout. He inked a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres for $450,000. He batted .256 with 18 doubles and 58 runs scored in 131 games while fielding .994 for the Padres. He committed just four errors in 669 chances at second base.
Again a free agent, Reed re-signed with San Diego that December. It was a two-year contract for 1996 and 1997 with an option for 1998.29
In 1996, with Reed anchored at second base (137 starts), the Padres won 91 games and captured the NL West for the first time since 1984. Offensively, Reed batted .244 with 20 doubles and 45 runs scored for the year. He posted a .987 fielding average. He went 3-for-11 in the NLDS, which San Diego lost to St. Louis.
That November, San Diego obtained a new second baseman, Quilvio Veras. On March 22, 1997, Reed was sent to the Tigers for minor-leaguers Mike Darr and Matt Skrmetta. Reed’s role on the new club was clear. Tigers GM Randy Smith said, “Damion Easley is our second baseman and we had gotten Reed for insurance and for depth.”30
Reed’s former Padre teammates, Willie Blair and Brian Johnson, spoke effusively about Reed in spring 1997, when all three were reunited on the Tigers. Blair said, “He knows how to win. Defensively, I’ve never played with a second baseman as good as he is.”Johnson added, “Jody was one of the main ingredients of our (Padre) championship team last year. He’s going to make this team (Tigers) a lot better just by being here.”31
Reed accepted his new role as a backup. He said, “It’s a long season and I’ll get prepared to do whatever I have to do…I’m 34. I’ve got to play.” Reed’s former Padres teammates did not approve of dropping him in favor of Veras. Steve Finley said, “Jody’s the better second baseman. I’ll apologize in advance if I offended anyone. My guess is everyone else in the clubhouse feels the same way.”Future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn added, “It’s a really tough hit.” Gwynn said he was personally close to Reed and believed he had a major role in rebuilding the club.32
Reed played in just 52 games in 1997, appearing in his last major-league contest on August 22 at County Stadium. He came in to play second base in the seventh inning, relieving Easley in a 16-1 blowout of the Brewers. Reed’s batting had deteriorated; his average fell from .288 on May 31 to .209 on June 30. He finished at .196. On September 10, 1997, the Detroit Free Press reported that Reed had been designated for assignment, citing Easley’s “emergence as an everyday player” as the reason.33
Among many friendships Reed made in baseball, another besides Jeff Gray stands out. “Tony Gwynn and I – we were very close. Personally, and on the field. I was absolutely astonished by what he could do on the baseball field. He was the most amazing hitter I’ve ever seen. I loved watching him hit every day for two years.”
Gwynn surprised Reed with some special instructions on April 26, 1995, soon after he joined the Padres. “Listen, I have my own hit-and-run sign. When I put my hand on the top of my helmet, I want you to run,” Gwynn said.34 Although Reed was surprised, he went along because it was coming from the nonpareil Gwynn. Reed recalls how he soon stood on first base while Gwynn was batting with a two-strike count. Gwynn stepped out of the box and gave his hit-and-run sign. Reed ran and Gwynn lashed a single “through the 5/6 hole.” Later, Reed asked Gwynn why he had flashed the sign in a two-strike situation. Gwynn explained, “I knew what the pitcher was going to do but I needed the shortstop to move.” “It was unbelievable. We ended up hitting and running 50 times that year, said Reed.”35
What are Reed’s most memorable moments from 11 years in the majors? “It was what happened off the field with teammates. Those were the things that were personal. Those are the memories that stick with you. Be it with a coach, fan, player, those are the most meaningful.”36
After retirement, for a short time Reed and Jeff Gray co-owned a Beef O’Brady’s restaurant in Sarasota.37 He also got back into baseball at the minor-league level. From 2007 to 2010, he managed the Gulf Coast League Yankees, becoming Manager of the Year in 2007. He then worked for the Dodgers for three years and was the Arizona League Manager of the Year in 2011.38 Returning to the Yankees minor-league system, he served from 2014 to 2020 as the field coordinator.39He is currently the infield instructor in the Marlins system.
Reed’s proudest achievement is his family.
“The biggest thing is that since retiring I connected with my family and those relationships have grown. I have four daughters and two granddaughters. I am of course still married, so I have seven women in my life. Having four daughters that will call and ask about anything to hear my thoughts is gratifying. I am really happy with where I am. And having a one-year-old and a three-year-old grandchild resets the cycle. I’m not going to miss anything that I missed before.”40
Last revised: January 11, 2022
This biography was reviewed by Bill Nowlin and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Tony Oliver.
In addition to the sources shown in the notes, the author made use of statistics from baseball-reference.com andbaseball-cube.com, Reed’s file at the Giamatti Research Library at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Red Sox Media Guides for 1988 through 1991.
1 Author interview on August 18, 2021. Reed said that he inflated his height and weight for media guides and press at the suggestion of veteran Marty Barrett.
2 Ancestry.com, marriage records index.
3 Tony Reid, “Reed’s ability sparks Eagles,”Tampa Tribune, April 15, 1980: 53.
4 David Alfonso, “Brandon’s Reed has grown and so has his ability,”Tampa Tribune, June 9, 1983: 156.
5 Richard Hubbard, “Hill excited about MJC’s prospects,”Bradenton Herald, January 27, 1982: 37.
6 Cary Waldman, “Olympic hopefuls…,”Tampa Tribune, October 19, 1983: 6C.
7 Bill McGrotha, “Jody Reed, the old pro…,”Tallahassee Democrat, May 23, 1984: D1.
10 Scott Morganroth, “Reed: size does not matter,”Tampa Tribune, August 7, 1985: 6-PE.
11 Sporting News Player Contract Cards Collection, LA84 Foundation.
12 Author interview on November 18, 2021.
13 Boston Red Sox 1988 Media Guide, 38.
14 Marvin Pave, “PawSox Reed blossoms in the heat of battle,”Boston Globe, August 28, 1987: 34.
15 Dan Shaughnessy, “Reed a hit in debut at short,”Boston Globe, September 19, 1987: 29.
16 Tim Horgan, “Reed: Little guy makes big move,” Boston Herald, March 22, 1989 (HOF file copy).
18 Author interview on November 22, 2021.
19 Author interview on November 22, 2021.
20Author interview on November 22, 2021.
21 Bryan Marquard, “Obituaries: Dr. Arthur Pappas, Sox Team Physician,”Boston Globe, March 24, 2016: B8.
22 Sean McAdam, “Adapting with ease,”Diehard, May 1991, 18.
24 George Whitney, “Club Spokesman,”Diehard, September 1990, 13.
25 Nick Cafardo, “Gray remains hospitalized…,”Boston Globe, August 1, 1991: 47.
26 Mike Shalin, “Sox: Reed no Alomar,”Boston Herald, February 15, 1992: 52.
27 Jen McCaffrey, “Recalling the low points of the Butch Hobson-Red Sox era,” The Athletic, June 3, 2020, https://theathletic.com/1851272/2020/06/03/red-sox-butch-hobson-era/?redirected=1
28 Bob Nightengale, “Martinez, Johnson, Smoltz flourished…,”Florida Today, July 24, 2015: C5.
29 John Schlegel, “Plan B: Reed at second,”North County Times (Oceanside, California), December 20, 1995: C1.
30 John Lowe, “Easley’s knee scare…,”Detroit Free Press, March 24, 1997: 4D.
31 Lowe, “Easley’s knee scare….”
32 John Lowe, “Reed accepts backup role,”Detroit Free Press, March 24, 1997: 4D.
33 Gene Guidi, “Hurst to get a look, Reed gets the door”, Detroit Free Press, September 10, 1997: 4F.
34 Author interview on November 22, 2021
35 Author interview on November 22, 2021.
36Author interview on November 22, 2021.
37 “Beef O’Brady’s of Sarasota, Incorporated”, Intercredit Report, accessed on December 21, 2021 here: https://florida.intercreditreport.com/company/beef-o-brady-s-of-sarasota-incorporated-p97000015875
38 2020 Marlins Media Guide, 213.
40 2020 Marlins Media Guide, 213.