[This Reds Memory was written by friend of the site, Doug Dennis. Doug has been a bullpen writer for BaseballHQ for over 20 years. Thanks, Doug!]
I was asked to write a little something about a vivid Reds memory. There are so many. Like my sheer giddiness at watching Billy Hamilton’s Fall Stars Game appearance in Phoenix during the AFL season, where he hit a terrible bunt to the pitcher, who hurried his throw past the first baseman and watching in amazement as Hamilton cruised into third standing up. Like driving on a road trip to Florida listening to the Reds on the radio as Aroldis Chapman set the record for single pitch velocity at 105.1.
I was tempted to write about the crazy game I saw in TV on May 19, 1999. That was the game where the Reds beat Colorado at Coors Field 24-12. Sean Casey got on base seven times with two home runs. Jeffrey Hammonds hit three home runs. It was the most runs for the Reds since 1911. The Reds had 28 hits and batted around in four separate innings. The 28 hits tied a team record set in 1902. That game was certainly memorable. But it was in Denver.
I was tempted to write about the incredible playoff series between the Reds and the Pirates in 1990. The clinching Game Six was tense. Barry Larkin and Eric Davis combined for a run in the first inning. Carmelo Martinez tied it with a double in the fifth. Ron Oester, Billy Hatcher and Luis Quinones combined to break the tie in the seventh. With the game 2-1, Randy Myers pitching, Carmelo hit what looked to be a two-run home run in the ninth before Glenn Braggs jumped at the wall and stole the home run to clinch the series. That Martinez double in the fifth would be the Pirates only hit of that game
My favorite play in that series came three days earlier in Game Four. With the Reds clinging to a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, Jay Bell cracked a solo home run to make it 4-3. Jose Rijo departed and Randy Myers came on. One out later, Bobby Bonilla was up. He hit a drive to straight away center just past Billy Hatcher who crashed into the fence and fell down. Streaking in from left field, Eric Davis grabbed the rebound and fired a strike to Chris Sabo to nail Bonilla at third. Instead of one out, tying run at third, it was two out, none on. That Davis to Sabo is my all-time favorite play. But that is not the vivid memory, either, as I saw it on TV as well.
No, my vivid memory involves being at the ballpark, in this case, Riverfront Stadium. On June 25, 1995, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to head downtown for the Reds/Marlins tilt. Sunny, perfect weather, not too hot, I arrived early and got a nice seat behind home plate. I went and bought a Big Red Smokey with mustard and kraut, and settled in.
I remember talking to a nice couple sitting by me. I cannot remember their names. She kept a scorecard. He wore a Johnny Bench jersey. They were west-siders. She told me that she listened to the Reds on the radio sitting out behind her house every night after dinner. He said that he was in construction and could only get to a few games a year.
I remember a lot of the little details about this particular game. I don’t know why. David Weathers was pitching for Florida. He would later be a pitcher for the Reds. Jose Rijo was pitching for the Reds. I could smell the grass, hear the chatter. It was the perfect day.
Well, Rijo didn’t have it and Weathers did. Weathers pitched a no-hitter for five innings. Now, I had not ever watched a no-hitter live at any time in my life. That is still true today. I have come close a couple of times, and this was one of them. That’s when this game got a little weird.
In the top of the sixth inning, Weathers was called on to bunt against reliever Tim Pugh. Pugh’s up-and-in pitch hit Weathers in the hand. And we could hear it when it did. Weathers was hurt and had to leave the game in the middle of his no-hitter. In came Terry Mathews for the bottom of the sixth for the Marlins and he quickly lost the no-hitter. It was a shame, even though it was against the Reds.
Despite everything I have told you so far about this perfect Sunday, with the perfect weather, and the perfect seat next to the very nice couple, where David Weathers got hurt and missed what was probably his best chance at a major league no-hitter, the most memorable part of this game came in the ninth inning.
Down 5-0, Eric Anthony stepped in against Terry Mathews, who remained in the game. What happened next was breathtaking. Anthony swung and smashed the longest home run I have ever witnessed. It went up and up and up and found its way into the upper deck in right field in Riverfront —a titanic blast. I recall it was estimated at 505 feet—but no one really knows for sure, and there is no record of it that I could find. I did find a 535-foot home run that Adam Dunn hit off Jose Lima, but this was not that.
How can I describe a home run like that at Riverfront? It was crushed. And I mean crushed. There were no fans sitting where that ball landed. It was upper deck at a field where nothing made it to the upper deck. I have never seen anything like it. Now I know that there have been homers hit further. But this home run took all the oxygen around me and though we all stood and cheered, I could not hear anything. It was like everything was in slow motion as Anthony trotted around the bases, still down 5-1.
After the game, I did not go out. I went home. Eric Anthony played a little more for the Reds, but then faded into obscurity. David Weathers came to the Reds later and friends and family had to hear about this game where Weathers was throwing a no-hitter before he got hit by a pitch. But that one vivid memory is that crazy long home run on an otherwise perfect day.