1972 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1972 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds winning the National League West title with a record of 95 wins and 59 losses, 10½ games over the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. They defeated the previous year's World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series, but lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games in the 1972 World Series. The Reds were managed by Sparky Anderson.

1972 Cincinnati Reds
1972 National League Champion
1972 National League West Division Champion
Major League affiliations
Record95–59 (61.7%)
Divisional place1st place
Other information
Owner(s)Francis L. Dale
General manager(s)Bob Howsam
Manager(s)Sparky Anderson
Local televisionWLWT
(Tom Hedrick, Waite Hoyt)
Local radioWLW
(Al Michaels, Joe Nuxhall)
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The theme for the Reds was "Redemption" after a disastrous 1971 season that saw the Reds fall from a World Series participant in 1970 to a sub .500 team a year later. In fact, the March 13, 1972, Sports Illustrated edition featured the Reds on the front cover headlining "Redemption for the Reds." The Reds won 102 games in 1970, but only 79 a year later. A major catalyst for the Reds, Bobby Tolan, ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the winter of 1971 while playing basketball and he missed the entire '71 MLB season. Nearly every Reds regular, including Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Pérez, Bernie Carbo and David Concepcion, had significant decreases in their production from 1970. The lone exception was popular first baseman Lee May, who set career highs in home runs (39) and slugging percentage (.532).

Reds fans, en masse, were shocked and dismayed when, on November 29, 1971, Cincinnati Reds General Manager Bob Howsam traded May, Gold Glove winning second baseman Tommy Helms and key utility man Jimmy Stewart to division rival Houston Astros for second baseman Joe Morgan, third baseman Denis Menke, pitcher Jack Billingham, little-used reserve outfielder Cesar Geronimo and minor leaguer Ed Armbrister. The trade turned out to be one of the best trades in Reds history. Morgan would escape the cavernous Houston Astrodome to a more hitter-friendly Riverfront Stadium home park. Surrounded by more talent in Cincinnati, Morgan would become one of the more productive power-speed players in the entire decade on his way to eventual induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Morgan and Geronimo would also go on to each win multiple Gold Glove awards, as Geronimo manned right field until 1974 when he would take over in center field. Billingham would go on to win 12 games in 1972 and 50 total in his first three years with the Reds. Billingham's best moments came in the 1972 World Series when he threw 13+23 innings allowing no earned runs in collecting a win, a save, and a no decision in Game 7.

With Rose, Morgan and a healthy Tolan at the top of the lineup, a rejuvenated Bench was the recipient as the Reds' cleanup hitter. Rebounding from the 1971 disaster when he only drove in 61 runs, Bench slammed 40 home runs and had a major league-best 125 RBI. Bench also walked a career-high 100 times on his way to NL MVP honors, his second in three years.

Cincinnati got off to a slow start, winning only eight of their first 21 games before winning nine straight. The Reds were still only 20–18 when they went into Houston to play the retooled Astros for a four-game series, May 29 – June 1, at the Astrodome, a notorious pitchers park. But the Reds scored 39 runs in the series and won all four games. The Reds went into the July 23 All-Star break with a 6½ game lead over the Astros and an 8-game lead over the Dodgers. Neither team seriously threatened the Reds in the second half.

Reds ace Gary Nolan won 13 of his 15 decisions by July 13, only 79 games into the season. But Nolan suffered a series of neck and shoulder ailments that forced him out of the All Star game and limited him to a total of 25 starts. He spent much of the second-half on the disabled list resting and then rehabbing. He won two games after the All-Star break. Nolan still finished second in the National League in ERA (1.99) to Philadelphia's Steve Carlton (1.97). Morgan (122 runs scored, 16 home runs, 73 RBI, 58 stolen bases, .292 average) finished fourth in MVP voting, while Rose (107 runs, 198 hits, 11 triples, .307 avg.) and reliever Clay Carroll (37 saves, 2.25 ERA) were 12th and 13th, respectively, in the MVP voting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, three games to two, in an exciting 1972 National League Championship Series, the first time in its four-year history the NLCS had gone five games. The World Series against the Oakland A's was equally as epic, with the Reds falling in Game 7, 3–2, the sixth game of the series decided by a single run.

Off season

Season standings

NL West W L Pct. GB Home Road
Cincinnati Reds 9559 0.617 42–34 53–25
Houston Astros 8469 0.549 10½ 41–36 43–33
Los Angeles Dodgers 8570 0.548 10½ 41–34 44–36
Atlanta Braves 7084 0.455 25 36–41 34–43
San Francisco Giants 6986 0.445 26½ 34–43 35–43
San Diego Padres 5895 0.379 36½ 26–54 32–41

Record vs. opponents

Atlanta 5–7–19–97–77–84–87–56–66–66–117–116–6
Chicago 7–5–18–43–98–410–510–810–73–129–37–510–8
Cincinnati 9–94–811–69–58–48–410–28–48–1010–510–2
Houston 7–79–36–117–118–46–69–33–912–213–54–8
Los Angeles 8–74–85–911–76–67–57–57–513–59–98–4
Montreal 8–45–104–84–86–66–1210–66–126–66–69–8
New York 5–78–104–86–65–712–613–58–67–58–47–9
Philadelphia 6-67–102–103–95–76–105–135–136–66–68–7
Pittsburgh 6–612–34–89–35–712–66–813–510–29–310–8
San Diego 11–63–910–82–125–136–65–76–62–104–104–8
San Francisco 11–75–75–105–139–96–64–86–63–910–45–7
St. Louis 6–68–102–108–44–88–99–77–88–108–47–5

Notable transactions


1972 Cincinnati Reds roster
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Player stats

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CJohnny Bench147538145.27040125
1BTony Perez136515146.2832190
2BJoe Morgan149552161.2921673
SSDave Concepción11937879.209229
3BDenis Menke140447104.233950
LFPete Rose154645198.307657
CFBobby Tolan149604171.283882
RFCésar Gerónimo12025570.275429

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Darrel Chaney8319648.250219
George Foster5914529.200212
Joe Hague6913834.246420
Ted Uhlaender7311318.15906
Bill Plummer3810219.18629
Hal McRae619727.278526
Julián Javier449119.209212
Bernie Carbo19213.14300
Sonny Ruberto230.00000
Pat Corrales210.00000

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Jack Billingham3631217.212123.18137
Ross Grimsley3028197.21483.0579
Gary Nolan2525176.01551.9990
Jim McGlothlin3121145.0983.9169
Wayne Simpson2422130.1854.1470

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Don Gullett31134.29103.9496
Jim Merritt48.0104.504

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts; SV = Saves

Player G W L ERA SO SV
Clay Carroll65642.255137
Pedro Borbón62833.174811
Tom Hall471012.611348
Ed Sprague33334.13250
Dave Tomlin3009.0020
Joe Gibbon20054.0010


1972 National League Championship Series

The Reds rallied to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in five games to win the National League title. In Game 5, Johnny Bench's ninth-inning home run tied the game before George Foster scored the game-winner on a wild pitch by Pirates' reliever Bob Moose.

Game 1

October 7: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 100 000 000 180
Pittsburgh 300 020 00X 560
W: Steve Blass (1–0)   L: Don Gullett (0–1)   S: Ramón Hernández (1)
HR: CINJoe Morgan (1)  PITAl Oliver (1)
Pitchers: CIN – Gullett, Borbón (7)  PIT – Blass, Hernández (9)
Attendance: 50,476

Game 2

October 8: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 400 000 010 581
Pittsburgh 000 111 000 371
W: Tom Hall (1–0)   L: Bob Moose (0–1)   S: None
HR: CINJoe Morgan (2)  PIT – none
Pitchers: CIN – Billingham, Hall (5)  PIT – Moose, Johnson (1), Kison (6), Hernández (7), Giusti (9)
Attendance: 50,584

Game 3

October 9: Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 000 010 110 370
Cincinnati 002 000 000 281
W: Bruce Kison (1–0)   L: Clay Carroll (0–1)   S: Dave Giusti (1)
HR: PITManny Sanguillén (1)  CIN – none
Pitchers: PIT – Briles, Kison (7), Giusti (8)  CIN – Nolan, Borbón (7), Carroll (7), McGlothlin (9)
Attendance: 52,420

Game 4

October 10: Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 000 000 100 123
Cincinnati 100 202 200 7111
W: Ross Grimsley (1–0)   L: Dock Ellis (0–1)   S: none
HR: PITRoberto Clemente (1)  CIN – none
Pitchers: PIT – Ellis, Johnson (6), Walker (7), Miller (8)  CIN – Grimsley
Attendance: 39,447

Game 5

October 11: Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 020 100 000 380
Cincinnati 001 010 002 471
W: Clay Carroll (1–1)   L: Dave Giusti (0–1)   S: none
HR: PIT – none  CINCésar Gerónimo (1), Johnny Bench (1)
Pitchers: PIT – Blass, Hernández (8), Giusti (9), Moose (9)  CIN – Gullett, Borbón (4), Hall (6), Carroll (9)
Attendance: 41,887

1972 World Series

The Reds were a prohibitive favorite to win the World Series over the Oakland Athletics, who lost top slugger Reggie Jackson to a hamstring injury in the playoffs. But Gene Tenace, who hit just five home runs in the regular season, crushed four against the Reds in a series that saw six of the seven games decided by one run. Oakland dealt the Reds three losses on their home AstroTurf of Riverfront Stadium. Tenace had two hits and two RBI in Game 7 as Oakland scored two in the sixth inning and held on for a 3–2 victory for the A's first World Series title since 1930.

AL Oakland Athletics (4) vs. NL Cincinnati Reds (3)
Game Score Date Location Attendance Time of Game
1A's – 3, Reds – 2October 14Riverfront Stadium52,9182:18
2A's – 2, Reds – 1October 15Riverfront Stadium53,2242:26
3Reds – 1, A's – 0October 18Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum49,4102:24
4Reds – 2, A's – 3October 19Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum49,4102:06
5Reds – 5, A's – 4October 20Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum49,4102:26
6A's – 1, Reds – 8October 21Riverfront Stadium52,7372:21
7A's – 3, Reds – 2October 22Riverfront Stadium56,0402:50

Awards and honors

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Indianapolis Indians American Association Vern Rapp
AA Trois-Rivières Aigles Eastern League Jim Snyder
A Tampa Tarpons Florida State League Russ Nixon
Rookie Melbourne Reds Florida East Coast League Dave Pavlesic
Rookie GCL Reds Gulf Coast League Ron Plaza

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Melbourne Reds [6]


  1. Joe Morgan page at Baseball Reference
  2. Wayne Granger page at Baseball Reference
  3. Jim Qualls page at Baseball Reference
  4. Ron Hassey page at Baseball Reference
  5. "Hutch Award | Baseball Almanac".
  6. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007


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