Ask Hal: Recalling the Reds’ 14-run first inning 30 years ago

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: Other than Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, if you could choose another player’s number to be retired by all teams, who would it be? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: That’s an easy one and for the same reason. They should retire Larry Doby’s No. 14. Doby was the first African-American to play in the American League and just missed by a few months of beating Jackie Robinson as the first in MLB. Doby played in the majors 15 years, mostly with the Cleveland Indians. In his early years he went through the same hazing and hatred that Robinson endured and Doby ignored and played at nearly as high a level as Robinson. The Indians retired his number and MLB should do the same.

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Q: You have covered thousands of baseball games so is there one game that was bizarre and unbelievable that you remember? — KOZ, Trenton.

A: Oh, yes. In early August of 1989, the Reds scored 14 runs in the first inning against the Houston Astros. It began with a walk to Mariano Duncan and he stole second. Luis Quinones bunted and beat it out. “I played for one run and got 14,” said manager Pete Rose. When it all ended, the Reds had 16 hits in the inning. Jeff Reed, Rolando Roomes, Todd Benzinger, Eric Davis, Ron Oester, Ken Griffey Sr. and Quinones all had two hits in the inning, seven of the nine hitters in the lineup. Twelve of the 16 hits were singles and they had nine straight hits off Bob Forsch, a really good pitcher. The first eight batters reached base before pitcher Tom Browning grounded out, then came the nine straight hits off Forsch, including a single by Browning. And if you can believe this, there was not a single home run. Yes, bizarre and unbelievable. (The Reds won 18-2).

Q: What is the point of having coaches boxes next to third base and first base when coaches don’t stand in them? — BRIAN, Centerville.

A: I’ve often wondered the same thing. It is a waste of chalk. Even though they now wear batting helmets, coaches like to stand as far away from the hitter as they can get and still be in the same zip code. They stand 10 to 20 feet beyond the coaches box to avoid foul line drives. There is no rule as to where they have to stand, other than they can’t stand in fair territory and who would want to do that? If it were me I’d be coach from the dugout wearing catcher’s gear.

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Q: Do you think the Reds will fire David Bell if they finish in last place? — LENNY, Cincinnati.

A: Let’s give David Bell a fighting chance, something former GM Jim Bowden didn’t do when he fired manager Tony Perez 44 games into his first season. As somebody once said, “There are two kinds of managers, those who have been fired and those who will be fired. It comes with the territory. There is no job security. That’s because somebody has to be the fall guy and you can’t fire an entire team. Let’s see how the Reds finish the season before we talk about taking away somebody’s livelihood. By the way, how did Bell do in that three-game sweep of the Houston Astros, all one-run victories during which every decision he made counted.

Q: Does a bloop single still look like a live drive in the scorebook? — JEFF, Springboro.

A: Not in mine. Broadcasters constantly say that, “A bloop single looks like a line drive in the scorebook.” In my book, if it is a bloop single I put a ‘B’ next to it. If it is a line drive single I put an ‘L’ next to it. If it is a ground ball single I put a ‘G’ next to it. If it is an infield single I put an ‘I’ next to it. OK, call me bullheaded but with my aging memory I need to know after a game when I sit down to write exactly what kind of a hit it was.

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Q: If you were a special advisor, what would be your first suggestion to owner Bob Castellini to improve the team? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: My first reaction to this question is convulsive laughter. I’m probably the last person they’d ask to be any kind of advisor, let alone special. One piece of advice won’t improve the team enough to make a difference, but I would suggest they sign shortstop Jose Iglesias to a contract extension.

Q: Would it be possible to trade Joey Votto while he still has some juice left in his tank? — RON, Dayton.

A: If he has juice in his tank instead of fuel, that might be a reason he continues to take called third strikes. But he has begun to hit and get on base, although his power switch seems turned off. The Reds can’t trade Votto without his permission because he has a no-trade clause in his contract. They would have to get his permission and he has vehemently insisted he wants to finish his career in Cincinnati. After this season he has four more years on his contract worth $100 million. And the Reds have a $20 million option for 2024 with a $7 million buyout. Get used to seeing him in the lineup.

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Q: Have the Cincinnati Reds forgotten Bug Holliday because doesn’t he belong in the team’s Hall of Fame? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.

A: Ol’ Bug played in he late 19th century, 10 years with the Cincinnati Red Stockings/Reds from 1889 to 1898. No, I didn’t cover him. He was an outfielder, born in St. Louis, but buried in Cincinnati in the Spring Grove Cemetery. His career average was .312 and he twice led the league in homers, including his first year with 19 home runs. Amazingly, Bug walked 360 times during his career and struck out only 226 times. His years were his first five, then he underwent an appendectomy and was never the same, playing mostly in a utility role his last five years. His numbers, though, certainly deserve Reds Hall of Fame consideration, even if nobody saw him play and there is no film of him playing.


Q: Si Burick, Ritter Collett and you are are in the writer’s wing of baseball’s Hall of Fame, so are there any other writers there who are not from cities with Major League franchises? — RON, Vandalia.

Q: When I was inducted in 2003, Dayton was the only non-Major League city with a writer in the Hall of Fame and there were three of us. And Ohio continues to hold that distinction. A couple of years ago Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal was enshrined. He covered the Cleveland Indians for 32 years. I had covered the Reds 30 years when I was inducted. Ocker and I were born in Akron, I graduated from high school and college two years before Sheldon. We both attended state schools (Kent State for me, Ohio State for him). We both were fiercely possessive of our beats and wanted to cover every game, probably fearing if somebody else covered a game we would get Wally Pipp-ed and somebody would replace us. He is smarter, though. He fully retired while I keep plugging along.

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