Please Note: Cincinnati Reds, 1990 World Series Champs!!!

13 10 2011

I saw Night Owl post this phrase for a Dodgers team (I think 1988) at one point, and decided I’d steal it for a post title with the appropriate team and year.  I guess I just gave away the results to the 1990 World Series:)

The Reds started the 1990 season free of the controversy that Pete Rose’s involvement in gambling that had hung over the team the previous year.  However, there was also some good off-field news.  Joe Morgan was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 1st year on the ballot – following up his teammate and fellow Big Red Machine member, Johnny Bench, who had done the same the year before.

Opening Day showcased what would be the Reds biggest strength this season – opening day starter Tom Browning had a poor outing, giving up 4 runs in the second inning, but the Reds battled back to send the game to extra innings.  Behind 6 innings from the trio that would be known as the “Nasty Boys” – Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton – they won in extra innings, 8-4.

They got off to a fast start, leading by 4 games before they finally lost on April 22nd, in their 10th game.  They never looked back from there, as the team went wire to wire.  Jack Armstrong was the story of the first half – he won 8 of his first 9 starts, bringing an 11-3 mark into the All-Star break as the NL’s starting pitcher.  Chris Sabo was also voted in as a starter at third, and Barry Larkin, Myers and Dibble were selected as All-Star reserves.

Armstrong cooled off, but the Reds did not – they finished as wire-to-wire NL West Champs.  They didn’t have any individual standouts – Larkin was the highest MVP vote-getter (7th).  But they fielded a good player at every position, had a good starting rotation, and had a very deep bench.  Sabo smacked 25 home runs and 38 doubles, Larkin hit .301, Eric Davis hit 24 dingers and knocked in 85 runs, while Paul O’Neill knocked in 71 HR.  They beat the Pirates in the NLCS, 4 games to 2, with Dibble and Myers as the co-MVPs.   I covered this in more detail in the previous post – but it was an intense series, with the Reds losing game 1, then winning 4 out of the next 5.  A Glenn Braggs catch in the 9th inning of game 6 sealed the outcome of a series that featured four 1-run games.

They faced off against the heavily favored A’s in the World Series, who featured a former or future All-Star at every position.  It was the Nasty Boys vs. the Bash Brothers, but it wasn’t much of a contest.  The Reds swept the A’s to become true wire-to-wire champions.

Team MVP: Barry Larkin (.301/7/67, 30 SB)

Best Pitcher: Jose Rijo (14-8/2.70/152)

Award Winners:

Larkin, Silver Slugger

Randy Myers & Rob Dibble, NLCS MVP

Rijo, WS MVP


Jack Armstrong (starter)

Chris Sabo (starter)




After going through the Topps, Topps Traded and ML Debut sets, I realized that every Red on the postseason roster was featured on a 1990 Topps card.  Only Billy Bates and Bill Doran aren’t on a card in their Reds uniform.  Here’s a recap of their role in the World Series.

These guys didn’t get into the World Series, but were on the post-season roster.  Mahler, Quinones and Reed all played in the NLCS.  I used to think it was Bill Doran who was the 25th guy – but it was actually reliever Tim Birtsas.

1990 Topps Reds WS Other Playoff Roster

Lou Piniella was hired in the offseason to lead the club.  So he filled out the starting line-up in the opening game of the World Series.

That lineup is shown, in order, below.  Larkin was the leadoff hitter (opposite of Rickey Henderson for the A’s), and Rijo was the game 1 starter.  Rijo would go on to win the MVP award for the series, but Billy Hatcher could have won the award – he had 7 straight hits at one point and had a .750 batting average.  Davis set the tone for the series, smashing a home run off Dave Stewart in the first inning.

Rijo pitched 7 scoreless innings, then handed it over to Dibble and then Myers to solidify an opening-game, 7-0 blowout victory.  Todd Benzinger came in to pinch hit for Dibble in the 8th.

I actually attended game 2, and the main thing I remember was Jose Canseco’s 3rd inning home run that started a rally for the A’s that ran starter Danny Jackson out of the game.  The A’s had a 4-2 lead.  Scott Scudder came in to quell the rally, and was lifted for pinch-hitter Ron Oester in bottom of the 4th.  Oester singled in Joe Oliver to pull within a run.  Armstrong came in to pitch 3 innings of 1-hit, scoreless ball.  Herm Winningham hit for Armstrong for his first at bat of the series in the 7th, but he lined out.  Charlton came in to relieve him.  Glenn Braggs pinch hit for Hal Morris against lefty Rick Honeycutt, and beat out a double-play attempt to knock in Hatcher, and Benzinger hit for the pitcher Charlton to ultimately replace Morris at first.  Dibble pitched the 9th and 10th innings, and in the bottom of the 10th, the Reds used their 25th man.  Billy Bates pinch hit for Dibble, and beat out an infield single to Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley.  Sabo and Oliver followed with singles to post a walk-off win.

This was a game that clearly highlight the depth advantage the Reds had – they used 18 of the 23 available players (Rijo had started the previous day, and Browning was slotted for the game 3 start), and even considered using Browning.  Browning’s wife actually went into labor during game 2, and the proud father came back to pitch a solid game 3 in Oakland – 2 days later in Oakland.  Chris Sabo stole the show, blasting 2 home runs.

The Reds didn’t use any new players in Game 4 – it was a classic pitching duel.  Rijo gave up an early run to a Carney Lansford single in the first, but shut down the A’s for the next 7 innings.  I remember seeing him pumping his fist at the end of the 7th inning, as if to say “c’mon, give me some run support”.  The Reds obliged in the top of the 8th, playing small ball to finally get to Dave Stewart after two singles, an error followed by fly ball and ground-out RBIs.  The Reds swept the defending champion A’s, and the rest was history!




2 responses

15 11 2011
Brian K. Hines

I was wondering if I could use the following picture for a blog post I’m writing on the Nasty Boys for I would of course include the picture with a link to this post and a source comment about where I got it from. If that is okay, you can let me know by email at (briankhines at Thanks.

11 09 2016
The best Reds cards from Topps in the 1990’s | Lifetime Topps project

[…] In some aspects – this card means more to me personally than the card i’m calling “Card of the Decade”.  Eric Davis was my favorite Red when this set came out, and it it’s an awesome photo that fits well with the set.  Oh, and this is the year they went wire to wire and won the World Series! […]

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