I have seen players come and go. I’ve watched them during their first game and was still alive when they retired.
Some players are fortunate in that they receive accolades for what they do.
Others are not quite as lucky, laboring in the vineyard year after year, without much appreciation or love.
Vada Pinson was such a man.
I am not a romanticist, so I don’t want to make Pinson out to be bigger in death than he was in life.
I do, however, think the man should have been given more respect and props than he actually received.
I am a Cincinnati fan, always have been. I use to watch games on TV and listened to all of the games, with Waite Hoyt drinkin’ Hudepohl’s and announcing the games.
I remember the teams back in the sixties very well. I remember Crosley Field with a great deal of fondness. Her terraces in the outfield in place of warning tracks, was a unique sight. Pinson played that terrace as well as anybody whoever attempted it.
Pinson was 19 years old when he broke into the big leagues on Apr. 15, 1958, with the Cincinnati Reds. Gus Bell was their starting center fielder, so Pinson had to watch for a little while, appearing in only 27 games.
Pinson got a break in 1959 when Frank Robinson moved from left field to first base. Jerry Lynch moved to left, and Bell went to right, leaving Pinson to patrol center field. He played every game that year.
During that full campaign, Pinson batted .316 with 20 HRs and 84 RBI. He also had 205 hits and led the league in runs scored with 131, doubles with 47, plate appearances with 706 and 648 official ABs.
Pinson was honored that year by being selected to the National League All-Star team. He was also chosen to play in the Midsummer Classic in 1960. That would be the end of the accolades for Pinson. He did manage to be awarded with a Gold Glove 1n 1961, when the Reds won the pennant.
In his 18-year career, Pinson batted over .300 four times. He had more than 200 hits four different times, twice leading the league in that category. He led the league in doubles twice, and in triples on two different occasions.
Pinson smashed 20 HRs or more seven times, and he knocked in more than 100 runs twice.
The closest he came to a Most Valuable Player Award was in 1961 when he led the league with 208 hits. Pinson finished third in the voting that year.
Am I making a push for the Hall of Fame for Vada Pinson? No, I am not saying he was that good, but I will say there are many enshrined there with stats that will not stand as tall as his.
Robinson, Vada’s teammate at Cincinnati for eight years, until Robby was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, has gone so far as to say Pinson should have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
I don’t think Pinson has had his fair share of praise over the years.
He hit 256 HRs during his career, along with 1170 RBI. Pinson got 2,757 hits, scored 1366 runs, and batted .286.
Pinson’s 162 game averages for his career are 17 HRs, 77 RBI. He averaged 180 hits and 90 runs.
He was also a very good base runner, stealing 20 or more nine times. His career high in stolen bases is 32. He was in the 20/20 club five times.
A splendid career by a man who did his job everyday, put up some great numbers and has two All-Star selections to show for it.
Underrated? You tell me.
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