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Dick Sisler: Cincinnati’s Other Bad Decision in 1965

In addition to hosting this year’s All-Star game, the Reds are also celebrating the anniversary of their last World Series championship. Members of that 1990 team are being honored in April, when they will certainly recall pleasant memories of their sweep against the heavily favored bash brothers of the Oakland Athletics.

While Cincinnatians revel in the joy their wire-to-wire team brought during that magical season, most of them will cringe at the memory of what had happened 25 years before that. It was in 1965 when Reds general manager Bill Dewitt traded Cincinnati’s best player and future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Milt Pappas.

Of course that trade remains one of the worst in franchise history, and it is arguably among the worst ever in all of baseball. It was not, however, the only bad transaction Dewitt made as GM that year.

He fired manager Dick Sisler, in spite of the fact that Sisler had led the Reds to 89 wins that year. The season before, after replacing the beloved and legendary Fred “Hutch” Hutchinson because of terminal cancer, Sisler won 32 of 53 games for a second place finish.

Unfortunately, he was abruptly fired at the end of the season and replaced by Don Hefner. Reds GM Dewitt then fired Hefner midway through the 1966 season with the Reds in eighth place, and Dave Bristol took over as manager. Bristol himself would last just two more years before giving way to the man who would orchestrate the famous “Big Red Machine” of the seventies, a team that featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan.

While his former team scuttled near the cellar of the league Sisler, who had been immediately hired as a bench coach for Red Schoendist and the Cardinals, went on to win two pennants and a World Series in St. Louis over the next two years. It would take Cincinnati another ten years to win it all.

One has to wonder how much sooner the Reds could have attained the crown of the fall classic had GM Dewitt not made either of those regrettable moves fifty years ago. Robinson had already established many of the franchise’s hitting records before the trade, and Sisler had been a successful manager. In fact, although his stint was short, Sisler has the highest winning percentage of any manager in Reds history, including that of Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson.

Source by Doug Poe

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