Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

July 13, 2014

REDS MADNESS: Roundin' second, headin' for third

ASHLAND — No one will ever step foot onto a major league mound at age 15 again.

And, can you imagine the media circus if it happened?

Joe Nuxhall was just a pup when he first went up against the big dogs in 1944. He faced nine batters and gave up five runs.

Over the years, 15 of which he spent with the Reds, he eventually reduced that 67.50 earned run average to a respectable 3.90 ERA. He amassed 135 wins and was a two-time All-Star.

While Paul Derringer's numbers (223 wins) overpower Nuxhall's, the Ol' Lefthander's popularity prevailed in The Independent's Reds Madness.

Seeded No. 3 in the Mr. Red region, Nuxhall knocked off No. 2 Derringer by a 54-46 percentage-point count.

After his playing career, Nuxhall became known for beautifully botching names — he once called former catcher Javier Valentin Jose Valentine — supplying musical background noise — "Get out, get out! Bye bye baseball!" he'd yell as Marty Brenneman described a home run — and interweaving lengthy pauses throughout a radio broadcast. Sometimes you'd have your hand on the dial thinking you'd lost the station before a faint "beer here!" assured you that you were still tuned in.

His famous sign-off was "This is the Ol' Lefthander, rounding third and headed for home."

One time in 1999, the Reds had just conquered the Cardinals for an important day-game win. Following the postgame show, Nuxhall threw a changeup, saying, "This is the Ol' Lefthander, rounding third and headed for Montgomery Inn."

Nuxhall was adored by fans until he died in 2007. And he still is today.

Next up, though, for Nuxie is powerhouse pitcher Jim Maloney, who easily beat Mario Soto to move into the Elite Eight.

Fittingly for those who vividly remember the Big Red Machine, Gary Nolan will face off against Don Gullett. What a matchup, huh?!

And for those who recall details from the wire-to-wire season in 1990, Jose Rijo is set to take on Tom Browning in the round of eight.

Old-timer Bucky Walters is pitted against Tom Seaver for a Final Four spot.

Only one position player matchup was close, in terms of our readers' votes, in the Sweet Sixteen round.

Of the total points Vada Pinson and George Foster received, Foster gathered 54 percent of them as he narrowly advanced to an uncovered face-off with Frank Robinson.

Pinson possessed all the tools at an early age. He could hit the gaps — he led the National League in doubles in both 1959 and 1960 — and he could zip along the basepaths. He tallied seven seasons containing 20-plus steals and led the NL in triples twice while a Red.

However, chicks (and everybody else) dig the long ball, right? From 1976 to 1979, Foster cranked 151 homers and drove in a whopping 488 runs. He finished in the top 12 in MVP voting in each of those seasons, claiming the award in 1977.

Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose cruised to easy victories in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Elite Eight is comprised of all Nos. 1 and 2 seeds. The group includes five Big Red Machine members — Bench, Morgan, Rose, Foster and Tony Perez.

Rounding out the remaining field are Ted Kluszewski, who faces Bench, Barry Larkin, who is up against Morgan, and Robinson.

Remember to return Tuesday for the much-anticipated moments that involve the unmasking of the three best Reds (manager, pitcher, position player) of the last 80 seasons, in our readers' eyes.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664. Follow @DindependentQB on Twitter.

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