During their heyday in the 1970s, the Big Red Machine lineup looked pretty close to an All-Star roster. Here are the so-called Great Eight, who took the field together in this alignment 88 times in 1975 and 1976, helping the Cincinnati Reds put together a 69-19 record with.
Johnny Bench, Catcher
Bench was maybe the greatest catcher of all time, and a two-time National League MVP who kept the Reds perking on offense AND the pitching staff humming along. He was an easy first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Tony Perez, First Base
Many tag Perez as the “heart and soul” of the Big Red Machine, and his trade to the Montreal Expos in December of 1976 was the beginning of the end for great baseball in Cincinnati. He joined Bench in Cooperstown on this ninth try in 2000.
Joe Morgan, Second Base
Like Bench, Morgan is on the short list of greatest ever at his position — second base. The National League MVP in 1975 and 1976 when the Reds won their two World Series title of the decade, Morgan sailed into the Hall of Fame on this first ballot in 1990.
Pete Rose, Third Base
Rose was an All-Star all over the diamond, and the consummate hustler, ending up as baseball’s all-time hits leader with 4256 — and surpassing the great Ty Cobb in the process. Of course Rose forever tarnished his image by betting on baseball, a scandal that left him on MLB’s permanently ineligible list and out of the Hall of Fame.
Dave Concepcion, Shortstop
Concepcion was about as steady of a superstar as you’re likely to ever find (Non-Cal Ripken Division, at least). The Reds plugged him in at shortstop in 1970, and Davey stayed there through 1985, garnering five Gold Gloves, nine All-Star selections, and two Silver Sluggers along the way.
George Foster, Left Field
Foster toiled in the shadows of the team’s bigger names during their absolute prime years, then broke out for 52 home runs and the National League MVP award in 1977. He was the only MLB hitter to smack 50 or more long balls between 1965, when Willie Mays also hit 52, and 1990, when Cecil Fielder hit 51.
Cesar Geronimo, Centerfield
Geronimo hit .258 with 51 home runs over his 15-year big league career, but that light hitting isn’t much of a problem when you’re maybe the best centerfielder in the game. Four straight Gold Gloves during the heart of The Big Red Machine years (1974-1977) certainly make that case.
Ken Griffey, Right Field
Before his son became the next “next Willie Mays,” Ken Griffey was a standout hitter in his own right, garnering All-Star berths in both 1976 and 1977. Senior was the primary starter in right during both championship seasons (1975 and 1977).