If the spring of 1919 had been an omen of things to come, the Cincinnati
Reds would have finished last that year. Instead, they won the National
It was probably the worst springtraining experience a Cincinnati team
In some respecrt, the camp was doomed from the start. The Reds were
broke. Only some last minute maneuvering by team president Garry
Herrmann enabled the team to journey south.
The site picked was Waxahachie, Texas, a little town in the southern
part of the state. When the Reds arrived in February, so did the monsoon
season. It rained day after day. The ballpark was situated in one of the
lowest parts of the city; consequently, the playing field constantly was
Reds players got so desperate they ended up playing in the railroad yards, in a cemetery, in a cow pasture and in a lot next to the town's bus depot. Batting practice seldom was taken and infield practice was a figment of their
imaginations. A bout all they could do was throw and run.
What made the situation worse was that Pat Moran was in his first
year as the Reds manager. He had been hired to replace Christy Mathewson,
who had been drafted in 1918 and was in Europe.When Mathewson didn't
respond to Herrmann's cablegrams about returning to the helm of the Reds
in 1919, Herrmann had no choice but to look for a new manager. Moran had
led the Philadelphia Phillies to the National League pennant in 1915 and
he was hired away from the New York Giants coaching staff.
When the Reds finally left Waxahachie for a barnstorming trip north,
they encountered more rain and were able to play only a few exhibition
games. The team was a shambles.
Edd Roush, Lee Magee and Jimmy Ring were holdouts and hadn't bothered to
report to spring training. Other players, like Rube Bressler, were just
returning from World War I.
But Moran persevered. When the Reds finally arrived home a few days
before the regular season was to begin, things began falling into place.
Roush came to Cincinnati, signed his contract and was ready to go by
Opening Day. Pitcher Slim Sallee, who had back problems in Waxahachie, was set to go. A new second baseman, Maury Rath,
played well above expectations.
Moran had a positive influence on the club. The team played with
reckless abandon. They won their irst seven games and went on that
season to beat the New York Giants by nine games. It was the first
pennant for Cincinnati, which had joined the National League as a
charter member in 1876.
Much of the credit for the team's success went to Moran. He credited
hard work for the team's success.
"The one real secret is work," Moran said in an interview after the 1919
season. "Baseball, just like everything else, is a business. You cannot
succeed in busi ness unless you work. The same principle applies to the
The Reds never repeated as pennant-winners under Moran's managerial
guidance, but they were always contenders. Moran remained the Cincinnati
skipper until he died in March 1924, when the Reds were at work in
Orlando, Florida. He was long a hard-living man who liked to drink, and
it caught up with him. His death officially was listed as a result of
Bright's disease, bur many knew that his life style had taken its final