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The Texan Reds

June 10, 2010

Pitching's in the water. Among other things.

So last week I saw the Reds play the Nationals while I was in DC. By myself, because I have that many friends. And while I was there, sweating a ton in Swamp City, angrily yelling at Jay Bruce every time he swung at a ball that was nowhere near the strike zone, I started taking a look at the Cincy roster and realized that…Jeez. They have a lot of big ol’ Texan boys.

At one point in the game, after Laynce Nix came in to pinch hit, the Reds outfield was manned by Bruce (raised in Beaumont, TX), Nix (Houston), and Drew Stubbs (Texarkana). Their onetime ace of the future, Homer Bailey, hails from La Grange. Utility infielder Paul Janish is from Houston. The bullpen is stocked with them: Logan Ondrusek hails from Hallettsville, Danny Herrera’s from Odessa, and Waco brings Arthur Rhodes, who somehow at age 40 is in the middle of his best year ever, and could probably be an All-Star this year.

Seriously, Arthur Rhodes has been preposterous this season. It may be the year of the pitcher and all, but this is a guy who broke into the bigs in 1991. The three-four-five of his Orioles teammates that day (here’s the boxscore) were Cal Ripken, Glenn Davis, and Randy Milligan. This year, Rhodes has allowed ONE EARNED RUN in 25 1/3 innings pitched. And that was a solo homer on April 10th to the unremarkable Jeff Baker. He’s inherited 18 runners and only allowed two of those guys to score. He’s allowed 17 baserunners in those 25 1/3 innings. You cannot beat Arthur Rhodes. You can only hope to avoid his wrath.

That’s eight Texan players on the Reds’ active roster (well, Bailey will be activated in a couple of days). That’s just about one-third of their guys in the dugout. Not that Texas hasn’t bred its fair share of great ballplayers. Take a look at nuggets found from trolling through the Hall of Fame website with searchable data:

Along with future Cooperstown inductee Greg Maddux, Hall of Fame members are Nolan Ryan, who epitomizes the Lone Star State, KKK open member Rogers Hornsby and alleged member Tris Speaker, Ernie Banks (Mr. Cub), Eddie Matthews (Mr. Cub2), Joe Morgan (Mr. Red), Frank Robinson (Mr. Red2), and Ross Youngs.

I have to say, it was very strange to find out that Roger Clemens wasn’t born in Texas and Maddux was. I guess I knew the former, just because so much has been written about him now, being born in Ohio and moving to Texas for high school. Maddux, on the other hand, spent much of his childhood in Spain and then Las Vegas.

And here’s something surprising: some of the most famous middle relievers of the last 20 years – Rhodes, Mike Stanton the Elder, Mike Timlin, Mike Jackson, Dennis Cook – guys who just toiled for almost two decades in the game – are all from Texas. Or maybe that’s not surprising, considering Dave Duncan, who at some point became Leo Mazzone, is from Texas as well. Tenacious pitching in that cool Texan water. Also, weird parasites and oil. And for some reason, three-fifths of the Red Sox starting rotation (Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Clay Buchholz) all hail from Texas as well.

Alabama’s pretty famous as the hotbed of great African-American ballplayers (Mays, Aaron, Irvin, McCovey, Paige, Ozzie); California has the largest share (but beyond Teddy Ballgame and Joey D, the quality isn’t as good); Georgia has the juxtapositions (Ty Cobb vs. Josh Gibson and Jackie Robinson); Maryland, such a small little state, produced Grove, Foxx, Ripken, and of course Little Orphan Babe. And New York once upon a time, had a bunch of European sons of immigrants like Greenberg and Gehrig to go along with Spahn and Collins. Pennsylvania has a range of Campy behind the plate. Wagner at short; Musial, Reggie, and Hack Wilson; a rotation of Christy Mathewson, Ed Walsh, Eddie Plank, and Rube Waddell. Whooof.


From → History

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