The first professional baseball team was not formed in New York City or Boston, but in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were known as the Red Stockings and had a perfect season while playing in the summer of 1869. Oddly enough they also became the first team to clash with management over salaries. The players moved to Boston. However Cincinnati remained baseball crazy with new teams that maintained the Reds name. Reds Memories: The Greatest Moments in Cincinnati Reds History covers the plight of the team from the pioneer days to the glory era of the Big Red Machine to the gang now playing in the Great American Ballpark.
The documentary has plenty of baseball writers to describe the various teams that used the Reds name in the early decades of baseball. The best story is the team that switched leagues to sell beer and play on Sundays. The Reds won the 1919 World Series over the Chicago White Sox. After the upset, it was discovered the White Sox players were bribed by gamblers to throw the Series. Although during the documentary Reds player Edd Roush recounts how their pitcher was also approached by a gambler to lose. Was this game so fixed by gamblers on both sides that it was fair? The rightful focus of the film is the ‘70s when the Big Red Machine ran Riverfront Stadium. It was a glorious time on the AstroTurf with Johnny Bench behind the plate, Pete Rose at third, Joe Morgan at second, Tony Perez at first and Dave Concepción in the shortstop hole. The outfield was Ken Griffey, Cesar Geronimo and George Foster. It was an all-star team in the field. They finally claimed the World Series title in ’75 except the highlight was the Redsox’s Carlton Fisk waving his hit into a home run. The next year they trounced the New York Yankees for a second title. There’s plenty of tales about how this team came together and Sparky Anderson made them champions.
Pete Rose must be extremely pleased at how he’s profiled in Reds Memories since it’s a positive piece that would please any press secretary. He gets to boast of his hard playing ways and most hits record. He doesn’t have to answer why he’s banned from baseball including entering the Hall of Fame with many of his teammates. Pete was caught betting on baseball including his own games. He kept claiming he was innocent until he had to sell an autobiography with a confession of guilt. Former owner Marge Schott also gets treated kindly with no mention of her troubles. Instead we get to hear about the surprising 1990 Reds that swept the highly touted Oakland A’s for the World Series. Who really wants to talk that much about her?
Reds Memories has plenty of vintage footage for fans of the Reds to enjoy. The crucial highlights are captured. They even have interviews with Pete Rose where he doesn’t make you cringe with him begging to be put in the Hall of Fame. The documentary does a fine job of explaining the passion Cincinnati has for their team and how the team returns the love on the field.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. They’ve cropped the original 1.33:1 image to fit the widescreen. For the most part this isn’t annoying since there’s not many heads being cut off. The image varies depending on the archival source of the material. Worse is old videotape. Audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The levels for the interviews are fine.
Tom Browning Perfect Game 9/88: Final At Bat (2:53) is a nail biting battle with the hitter.
1990 Reds Player Billy Bates Races a Cheetah (1:03) is a great freak show moment. Billy gets a head start on the cat.
Ken Griffey Jr: 500th HR At Bat/600th HR At Bat (4:45) is two swings from the player that should have been the greatest home run hitter of all time.
Johnny Bench Night Home Run (Final Of Career) (1:28) is a great ending to a hall of famer’s playing days.
Pete Rose Passes Ty Cobb Hit Record (8:28) gives the disgraced player his big ovation.
Tom Seaver No-Hitter: Final At Bat (3:25) is another tough out.
Johnny Vander Meer Feature (5:37) tells us about the pitcher who threw consecutive no-hitters.
Johnny Bench 1989 Hall of Fame Speech (5:34) reminds us that he wanted to be a major league catcher.
Reds Memories: The Greatest Moments in Cincinnati Reds History is the perfect gift for a young fan wanting to discover the past glories of the Big Red Machine. It covers all the major moments in the team’s history so they can easily keep up with an Uncle’s rambling of what it was like when he went to Riverfront to watch Charlie Hustle plow over catchers. The lack of a critical view of the team’s low lights will also make young kids feel good instead of shocked.
Shout! Factory presents Reds Memories: The Greatest Moments in Cincinnati Reds History. Starring: Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin and Sparky Anderson. Running Time: 74 minutes. Released on DVD: June 8, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds, World Series