|1972 Cincinnati Reds|
|1972 National League Championship|
1972 NL West Championship
|Major League affiliations|
|Owner(s)||Francis L. Dale|
|General manager(s)||Bob Howsam|
(Tom Hedrick, Waite Hoyt)
(Al Michaels, Joe Nuxhall)
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The 1972 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds winning the National League West title with a record of 95–59, 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.
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+2⁄3 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.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||85||70||0.548||10½||41–34||44–36|
|San Francisco Giants||69||86||0.445||26½||34–43||35–43|
|San Diego Padres||58||95||0.379||36½||26–54||32–41|
Sources:            
|1972 Cincinnati Reds roster|
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Main article: 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.
October 7: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|W: Steve Blass (1–0) L: Don Gullett (0–1) S: Ramón Hernández (1)|
|HR: CIN – Joe Morgan (1) PIT – Al Oliver (1)|
|Pitchers: CIN – Gullett, Borbón (7) PIT – Blass, Hernández (9)|
October 8: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|W: Tom Hall (1–0) L: Bob Moose (0–1) S: None|
|HR: CIN – Joe Morgan (2) PIT – none|
|Pitchers: CIN – Billingham, Hall (5) PIT – Moose, Johnson (1), Kison (6), Hernández (7), Giusti (9)|
October 9: Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati
|W: Bruce Kison (1–0) L: Clay Carroll (0–1) S: Dave Giusti (1)|
|HR: PIT – Manny Sanguillén (1) CIN – none|
|Pitchers: PIT – Briles, Kison (7), Giusti (8) CIN – Nolan, Borbón (7), Carroll (7), McGlothlin (9)|
October 10: Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati
|W: Ross Grimsley (1–0) L: Dock Ellis (0–1) S: none|
|HR: PIT – Roberto Clemente (1) CIN – none|
|Pitchers: PIT – Ellis, Johnson (6), Walker (7), Miller (8) CIN – Grimsley|
October 11: Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati
|W: Clay Carroll (1–1) L: Dave Giusti (0–1) S: none|
|HR: PIT – none CIN – César Gerónimo (1), Johnny Bench (1)|
|Pitchers: PIT – Blass, Hernández (8), Giusti (9), Moose (9) CIN – Gullett, Borbón (4), Hall (6), Carroll (9)|
Main article: 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.
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||A's – 3, Reds – 2||October 14||Riverfront Stadium||52,918||2:18|
|2||A's – 2, Reds – 1||October 15||Riverfront Stadium||53,224||2:26|
|3||Reds – 1, A's – 0||October 18||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum||49,410||2:24|
|4||Reds – 2, A's – 3||October 19||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum||49,410||2:06|
|5||Reds – 5, A's – 4||October 20||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum||49,410||2:26|
|6||A's – 1, Reds – 8||October 21||Riverfront Stadium||52,737||2:21|
|7||A's – 3, Reds – 2||October 22||Riverfront Stadium||56,040||2:50|
See also: Minor League Baseball
|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