Categories: Archived News
      Date: Mar  7, 2006
     Title: Happy Anniversary to the Big Red Machine by LTC Dave Grob
What are Big Time Collectibles from the Big Red Machine? We've got em all from game used bats and jerseys to colorful team and stadium memorabilia.

The year was 1976. I was twelve years old and life could not have been better. I had been following the Reds with some interest since 1970. That was a magic year as they got a new ball park, hosted the All Star Game and made it to the World Series. In the ensuing the years the Reds had been back to the post season in 1972, 1973, and won it all in what I still consider to be the greatest World Series in history…1975.

Coinciding with the good fortune of my hometown team was what seemed like a fortune I was making as a caddie at Hyde Park Golf & Country Club (HPG&CC). One of the great things about this place was the connection with the Reds. Johnny Bench was a member who typically found his was to the course listed under “Dr. Gonzalez & Guest.” It would be some time before I was senior (or even big enough) to rate such a loop…lest I digress any further, back to the topic at hand.

Carrying singles and getting two loops a day, I could make $12-15.00. The big money was in doubles, but that would be a year or so off (If you caddied, you know what all this means). The great thing about schlepping golf bags at HPG&CC meant that I had money to spend to follow the Big Red Machine.

In 1976, tickets to the game went for:

Box Seats (Field, Plaza and Loge): $4.50
Box Seats (Club Level): $6.50
Reserved (Plaza & Loge): $3.50
Loge Reserved: $2.50

Catching a bus round trip on the 69 Erie – Madisonville Line could be done for around a buck. A program-scorecard featuring Rose, Morgan and Bench posing with their MVP awards could be had for 50 cents. The Team yearbook cost a $1.25 and was well worth it. I still have my original and well-worn issue that I got signed by Bill Plummer, Ken Griffey, Sr. and Jack Billingham. Besides going to the games, extra money could be spent freely at the Reds 580 Gift shop named for its location in the 580 Building at the corner of 6th and Walnut. There was no shortage of great collectables, and by know the included game used items.

What these ramblings center on are the collectable items from this team. I will address them in three categories:

Game Used Items
Paper Items
Stadium/Team Memorabilia

GAME USED ITEMS

Tops on any list would be game used bats and jersey. If it lumber you seek, you may find this information helpful with respect to collecting bats of the “Great Eight.” The great things about bats from this year is not only the connection to a dynasty, but the visual appeal they hold in general given the Liberty Bell logo. It should be noted that not all bats from the 1976 season produced carry this emblem….More on this later.

Pete Rose: While most of the footage and images you will see from the 1976 season shows Pete swinging an Adirondack Bat ( most likely a model 69A), he did in fact order a number of bats from Louisville Slugger. Those bat orders show:

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

3-16-76 - S222 - 35”
3-23-76 - S222 - 35”
5-3-76 - R203 - 35” - (New Model)
5-7-76 - R203 - 35” - (Mark Weights)
8-17-76 - R195 - 35” - (Mark Weights)
10-18-76 - R195 - 35”

Johnny Bench: Like Rose, Bench added a model number to his list in 1976, the B316.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

3-16-76 - B278C - 35 ½”
3-27-76 - B278C - 35 ½”
Illegible - Mc44 - 35”
5-7-76 - B278C - 35”
6-18-76 - R43 - 35 ½”
Illegible - B278C - 35 ½”
8-17-76 - A99 - 35 ½” - (Illegible, but could be Hickory)
Illegible - B278C - 35 ½”
8-25-76 - B316 - 35 ½” - (Make New Model)
10-18-76 - B278 - 35”

Joe Morgan: I was very surprised to see the annotations for Morgan’s orders on 7-21-76. Would to know if these where actually stamped in this manner as I have never seen one.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

3-16-76 - S44 - 34 ½” - (Wide Grain, Mark Weights, Flame Burned)
3-23-76 - S44 - 34 ½”
4-23-76 - S44 - 34 ½”
6-18-76 - S44 - 34 ½”
7-21-76 - S44 - 34 ½”
7-27-76 - S44 - 34 ½” - (1975 MVP Cincinnati Reds)
7-27-76 - S44 - 34 ½ - (1975 World Champions)
8-2-76 - S44 - 34 ½” - (Wide Grain, Mark Weights, Fame Burned)
8-17-76 - S44 - 34 ½”
9-16-76 - S44 - 34 ½”
10-18-76 - S44 - 34 ½”

Tony Perez: Perez, like Foster, had very consistent orders during the 1976 season.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

3-16-76 - R43 - 35 ½”
5-20-76 - R43 - 35 ½”
6-7-76 - R43 - 35 ½”
Illegible - R43 - 35 ½”
Illegible - R43 - 35 ½”
Illegible - R43 - 35 ½”

Dave Concepcion: Concepcion bats are rather interesting. I have seen examples of his Hickory finished bats from 1976 that the model number (B278) stamped on both the knob and barrel on the same bat. In photographs, what appears like a large or “double knob” is really a dark rubber disk that fits above the knob.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

4-9-76 - K55C - 34 ½” - (Flame Burned)
4-9-76 - S44C - 34 ½”
4-23-76 - Illegible - 34 ½”
5-7-76 - K55 - 35” - (Flame Burned)
7-19-76 - B278 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
8-17-76 - B278 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
8-26-76 - B278 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
9-16-76 - B278 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
10-18-76 - B278 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)

George Foster: Interesting to note about the Foster bats. His are the most consistent of orders of all the Reds starters.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

4-23-76 - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
Illegible - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
6-2-76 - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
6-18-76 - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
7-21-76 - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
Illegible - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
9-16-76 - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)
10-18-76 - P72 - 35” - (Hickory Finish)

Cesar Geronimo: I have always found Geronimo bats interesting from the perspective that his models where like that of Reds hitting instructor Ted Kluszewski in terms of the knob, or lack of one. For Kluszewski these can be found in the form of the model U1 from Big Klu’s playing days.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

3-16-76 - G105 - 34 ½”
3-23-76 - G105 - 34 ½”
4-7-76 - D143 - 34 ½”
4-26-76 - Illegible, but appears to say MAKE NEW MODEL G152
Illegible - D143
Illegible - G152
5-20-76 - G152 - 34 ½”
6-7-76 - D143 - 34 ½”
6-18-76 - G152 - 34 (Illegible as to if these where 34 ½”)
Illegible - D143
7-22-76 - G152 - 34 ½”
8-17-76 - G152 - 34 ½”
9-16-76 - G152 - 34 ½” - (Flame Burned)
10-4-76 - G152 - 34 ½” - (Flame Burned)
10-18-76 - G152 - 34 ½” - (Flame Burned)

Ken Griffey Sr.: Interesting to note on the bats ordered by Griffey, is that he chose to go with a larger bat at the end of the season.

Date - Model - Length - Annotations

3-16-76 - S216 - 34” - (Flame Burned)
3-23-76 - S216 - 34” - (Flame Burned)
4-23-76 - S216 - 34 ½”
6-2-76 - S216 - 34 ½” - (Flame Burned)
7-21-76 - S216 - 34” - (Hickory Finish)
8-17-76 - S216 - 35”
10-18-76 - S216 - 35”

There are other bats that are of interest to collectors from 1976. They include player model bats that where sold in the Reds 580 Gift shop that are signature model bats. These are all 34” in length and as far as the Rose model, it is an S2. I point this out as at times, people will attempt to pass these off as gamers.

Two signature bats that are very collectible are the black World Series bat and the red counterpart. While the black bat was only made available to players and team personnel, the red version was sold at the gift shop and was also sent out to Reds Season ticket holders. Those actually came with a nice card bearing the signature (or likeness of) Reds General Manager Bob Howsam. On these bats you will notice a combination of signatures and block letter names stamped into the barrel. A third bat that is collectable, but falls into this category of non-gamers includes one sold during and after the World Series. It features both the Reds Logo (in red) and the Yankees Logo (in blue) on the barrel. Between these logos is stamped:

1976 World Series
Riverfront Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio

Next on the list of collectable gamers would have to be the jerseys. The home jerseys for the 1976 season where manufactured by Rawlings and should feature two flag tags sewn adjoin the Rawlings tag. One for set and one for year. The Road jerseys where manufactured by Wilson. In both cases the tag should be found in the tail. The jerseys, both home and road featured the 1976 Bi-Centennial Patch. There are photographs within “The Royal Reds: Baseball’s New Dynasty” that show the patch being worn on either sleeve. This patch was not worn by the Reds in the World Series against the New York Yankees. While the road jerseys seem to lack any formal tagging/set inventory system, it is not uncommon to find them with the numbers “2” or “3” written over the Wilson tag in black laundry pen.

Paper Items

For those like me, who were local at the time, one of the best collectables has to be the front pages of the both the Cincinnati Post and Enquirer. While color in print news in news is rather common place today, it wasn’t in 1976. I saved most of the newspapers from that time frame. My favorite piece is the front page section of the Cincinnati Enquirer from 22 October, 1976. Paper items make for both nice references and great display items. If you are looking for sporting magazines featuring Reds players on the cover, consider this list as something to work from:

Sports Illustrated

4-12-76 - Joe Morgan Cover
10-11-76 - George Foster Cover
11-01-76 - Johnny Bench Cover

Sport Magazine

Aug 1976 - Pete Rose, Joe Morgan Cover

Street & Smith Baseball

1976 - Joe Morgan Cover

Baseball Digest

January 1976 - Pete Rose Cover
December 1976 - Joe Morgan Cover

The Sporting News World Series Record Book

1976 - Pete Rose Cover

In addition to these, there are a number of team and local publications you may want to consider adding:

1976 Reds Year Book
1976 Stadium Program/Scorecard
1976 NLCS Program: The Reds edition features Morgan, Rose, Bench, and Perez in action shots with pennants from the 1970, 1972, 1973, and 1975 campaigns.
1976 World Series Program

Cincinnati Reds: Diary of a Winner. Day by Day…Play by Play of the 1976 World Championship Season (Forward by Ken Coleman). Great color pictures.

The Royal Reds: Baseball’s New Dynasty. Text by Hal McCoy. One of my absolute favorites. Page 153 shows you that not all 1976 H&B bats have the Liberty Bell Logo. This is also were you will find examples of the Bi-Centennial patch being worn on either the right or left sleeve. This is not due to an image being inverted as you still have the CREDS crest on the left breast to use as reference.

Cartoon Iron-On’s: These are caricature head shots of Reds Players that were printed in the Cincinnati Post.

Team Poster 20 x 35: This is a wonderful item that still appears on E-Bay from time to time. It is an enlarged team picture. These have been extremely popular with Reds collectors over the years and many have sought to get them signed. Tough signatures have been Kluszewski (D: 1988), Ed Armbrister, Santo Alcala, and Gary Nolan.

Stadium, Gift Shop, and Team Memorabilia

Hudepohl Beer Can: Steel can with great artwork capturing the highlights of the 1976 World Series. A similar can was done for the 1975 season as well. These both can be found on E-bay for a few dollars.

Royal Crown Cola Cans of players from the 1976 Season: Bench, Rose, Foster, Perez, Morgan, Rose (not sure about Concepcion and Geronimo).

Metal Serving Tray: One of my favorite items as it is a full color team picture that makes for an incredible and affordable display item.

Riverfront Stadium Artifacts: A few years back the Reds tore down Riverfront and the stadium fixtures where sold off by the company taking down the ball park. Most things went quick including seats, lockers, turn styles isle markers, and some of the decorative displays that adorned the walls and concession areas. On of things I found interesting, is the cheaper seats to sit in (the red seats) are actually preferred by collectors. Unlike the seats that came out of Crosley Field, none of the Riverfront seats are free standing nor do they feature any sort of isle or figural design. In addition to these, when they tore down the stadium, and number of items came out of storage to include the first bull pen parkas I had ever seen hit the market. The uniform items were sold at the Reds Gift Shop and at Reds Fest that year.

Pennants: There are a number of these out there, some made during 1976 and some just after to account for the World Series Victory. May favorite is a post series pennant that features the team’s roster on a scroll at the base end.

580 Gift Shop Pewter Items. These are very attractive display pieces and can still be found on E-Bay with some frequency. The include steins, a pendant with facsimile player autographs on the back, and an ash tray with facsimile player autographs as well.

580 Gift Shop Glassware. There are a number of nice items in this category including ceramic steins and pint beer classes that feature team logos information on the outcome of the post season games. They even offered the champagne bottles that where used to shower the Big Red Machine.

Autographed Balls: These are a wonderful collectable either in the single signed or team variety. Same things apply for the team version as with the others in terms of tough signatures. Two names that should be added to the “tough sigs” not found on the poster are Don Werner (played in 3 games in 1976) and Joe Henderson (pitched in 2 games in 1976). The ball pictured in this article is something special provided courtesy of Mr. Mark Fugate. It came from Ted Kluszewski’s own collection by way his widow Eleanor. Reds Greatest Hits-76: This LP (that’s for Long Playing Record) has a wonderful colorful album cover featuring the Great Eight along with Dan Driessen, Gary Nolan, Pat Zachary, and Rawly Eastwick and is easily found on E-bay.

World Series Trophies: While these are clearly beyond the price range of most collectors, they have become available in recent years. I know of at least three that have been sold in the hobby:

Ken Griffey Sr. Mastro Net Auctions: $12, 788.00
George Foster. Leland’s Auctions: $9,219.00
Larry D’Amato. Leland’s Auctions: $5,028.00

World Series Press Pins for both the Reds and Yankees manufactured by Balfour.

Another nice collectable are store model gloves of the Big Red Machine. These are affordable alternatives to gamers but can be equally tough to find and collect. When I was putting this together, the toughest glove I found to locate was a correct hand Don Gullet glove. It was a Rawlings and yes, for a left handed thrower. A great help if you are looking to start out on this quest is Joe Phillips who publishes a monthly newsletter called “The Glove Collector.” Joe can be reached at glovecol.comcast.net or at (972) 699-1808.

For those of you who may not be fans of the Big Red Machine (yet), I would offer this as a list of references you may want to consider in learning more about the club. One thing that is not listed is probably the most valuable, that being the Cincinnati Post and Enquirer that are on file in the form of micro-fiche at the Downtown Main Branch of the Cincinnati Public Library.

REFERENCES (Publications/Video)

Video:

Reds: The Official History of the Cincinnati Reds. Produced by Major League Baseball Productions. 75 min. The Phoenix Communications Group, 1987. Videocassette.

The 1970 World Series. Produced by Major League Baseball Productions. 40 min. The Phoenix Communications Group, 1992. Videocassette.

The 1972 World Series. Produced by Major League Baseball Productions. 41 min. The Phoenix Communications Group, 1991. Videocassette.

The 1975 World Series. Produced by Major League Baseball Productions. 37 min. The Phoenix Communications Group, 1991. Videocassette.

The 1976 World Series. Produced by Major League Baseball Productions. 33:35 min. The Phoenix Communications Group, 1992. Videocassette.

Publications:

Anderson, Sparky, and Si Burick. The Main Spark. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, INC, 1978.

Bjarkman, Peter C. Baseball’s Great Dynasties: The Reds. New York, New York: Gallery Books, 1991.

Bench, Johnny, and William Brashler. Catch You Later: The Autobiography of Johnny Bench. New York, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979.

Bushing, David and Dan Knoll. Mastronet Reference and Price Guide for Collecting Game Used Baseball Bats. Mastronet Publishing 2001.

Chadwick, Bruce, and David M. Spindel. The Cincinnati Reds: Memories and Memorabilia of the Big Red Machine. New York, New York: Abbeville Press, 1994.

Collett, Ritter. Men of the Machine: An Inside Look at Baseball’s Best Team of the 70’s. Dayton, Ohio: Landfall Press, Inc., 1977.

Drucker, Malka, with George Foster. The George Foster Story. New York, New York: Holiday House, 1979.

Gutierrez, Mike. “September 16, 1999 Auction.” Sports Collectors Digest 26, no. 38 (September 17, 1999): 62-69.

Hertzel, Bob. The Big Red Machine: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Best Team. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, INC., 1976.

Joe Morgan: Baseball My Way. Ed. Joel H. Cohen. New York, New York: Atheneum, 1976.

Johnny Bench: Catching and Power Hitting. Ed. John Sammis. New York, New York: The Viking Press, 1975.

Klein, Dave. Stars of the Major Leagues. New York, New York: Random House, Inc., 1974.

Malta, Vince, Ronald Fox, Bill Riddell, and Michael Specht. BATS: Professional Hillerich & Bradsby and Adirondack, 1950-1994. San Francisco, California: Off The Fence Publishing, 1995.

McCoy, Hal. The Relentless Reds. Shelbyville, Kentucky: PressCo, Inc., 1976.

_____. The Royal Reds: Baseball’s New Dynasty. Shelbyville, Kentucky: PressCo, Inc., 1977.

Okkonen, Mark. Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide. New York, New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.

Phillips, Joe. 1996 Vintage Baseball Glove Catalog Source Book. Dallas, Texas: The Glove Collector, 1996

Rhodes, Greg, & John Erardi. Big Red Machine: How Bob Howsam & Sparky Anderson Built the Big Red Machine. Cincinnati, Ohio: Road West Publishing, 1997.

Rhodes, Greg, & Mark Stang. Reds in Black & White: 100 Years of Cincinnati Reds Images. Cincinnati, Ohio: Road West Publishing, 1999.

Rose, Pete. The Pete Rose Story: An Autobiography. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1970.

_____. The Official Pete Rose Scrapbook: The Life, Times and Streak of Charlie Hustle. New York, New York: SIGNET, The New American Library Inc., 1978.

Rose, Pete, and Peter Golenbock. Pete Rose on Hitting: How to Hit Better Than Anybody. New York, New York: The Putnam Publishing Group, 1985.

Rose, Pete, with Bob Hertzel. Charlie Hustle. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, INC., 1975.

_____. Pete Rose’s Winning Baseball. Chicago, Illinois: Henery Regnery Company, 1976.

Shannon, Bill. Baseball Cards of the Cincinnati Reds. New York, New York: Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., 1987

Shannon, Mike. Johnny Bench: Baseball Legends. New York, New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1990.

This Great Game. Ed. Doris Townsend. New York, New York: Rutledge Books, Inc., 1971.

Walker, Robert Harris “Hub”. Cincinnati and the Big Red Machine. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Team/ Stadium Publications

1970 World Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)
1971 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook Magazine
1972 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook Magazine
1972 National League Championship Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)
1972 World Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)
1973 National League Championship Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)
1974 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook Magazine
1975 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook Magazine
1975 National League Championship Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)
1975 World Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)
1976 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook Magazine
1976 Scorebook (Rose, Morgan, Bench on Cover)
1976 National League Championship Series Program (Veterans Stadium)
1976 World Series Program (Riverfront Stadium)

While I am certain I have missed many collectables along the way, my hope is that this article will be of some value to seasoned collector of the Big Red Machine as well as stimulate interest in younger collectors who now view the team of my childhood as “vintage.” I would also like to offer a special thanks to Mr. Mark Fugate for providing many of the images provided. Mark has, in my opinion, one of finest team collections I have ever come across. Mark can be reached at msfugate@fuse.net.

If you have a team or period collection you would be interested in having featured in a MEARS article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.