Pilcher: Diversity meant wins for Big Red Machine

From James Pilcher at Cincinnati.com on June 21, 2015, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

“I don’t know if we were the best team ever, but I felt like we were the most entertaining team ever, plus we had something for everybody: two whites, two blacks and three Latins.” – Pete Rose on the Big Red Machine.

The Big Red Machine was known for winning. A lot.

In fact, the core starting lineup of the back-to-back World Series champions won nearly 80 percent of their games over the 1975-76 seasons.

But that lineup also highlighted something else for Major League Baseball – the final evolution from a segregated game into the ultimate athletic meritocracy.

After all, there were indeed only two white core starters during those two World Series runs – Rose and catcher Johnny Bench. The rest of the so-called “Great Eight” included three black and three Hispanic players (adding another black player to Rose’s tally).

“It just showed that baseball, and especially the Reds, had evolved to the point that if you could play, you deserved the time on the field and that was all it was about,” said John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball. “And the Reds had a very deep bench and those players that came up were very good.”

Read the full article here: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/2015-all-star-game/2015/06/21/diversity-meant-wins-big-red-machine/28813245/

Originally published: June 22, 2015. Last Updated: June 22, 2015.