For a few
years in the 1930s, the Cincinnati Reds were known as the "Roughhouse
Reds" around the National League. It was their aggressive, hustling,
scrappy style of play under new manager Charles Dressen that caused
sporrswriters to give them the nickname.
one-time quarrerback on George Halas' Decatur Staleys - now the Chicago
Bears knew only one brand of baseball: fire and brimstone. He molded
his club in that manner. It was Dressen's motto that if the Reds
couldn't win the baseball game, at least they could win the fight.
baseman with average ability, Dressen played for Cincinnati from 1925
through 1931. Out of a job, he was contemplating joining the police
force in his native Decatur, Illinois, when he learned that the
Nashville minor league team was about to changemanagers in
early 1932. Always wanting to manage, Dressen went to the Tennessee
capital and applied for the job.
approach to the situation was
somewhat unique. He offered to manage without pay if his team didn't win
more games than it lost. The Nashville owner was impressed and hired
Dressen as a rookie manager. True to his word, Dressen's team won more
than it lost, but barely. The club had to win its final game to
guarantee Dressen a salary.
reputation began to grow. Reds general manager Larry MacPhail wanted to
boot Bob O'Farrell as the Reds manager during the 1934 season so he
looking for a replacement. He went to Nashville and recruited Dressen,
whose team had won the first half of the Southern League season by seven
games. Dressen was hired and reporred to the Reds on July 29, 1934.
laissez-faire attitude had evolved under O'Farrell, but that changed
immediately when Dressen joined the club. He shook up the lineup and
played a new game. His team bunted
a lot, played the hit-and~run game and he used the squeeze play to get
the man home from third.
never had much to work with in Cincinnati during those Depression years,
but he did get the Reds out of the cellar and up to fifth in 1936. The
following year, though, things got out of hand and he was fired after
the 1937 season, when the Reds finished last.
campaign was a strange one. The Reds fought more and won less. So
enamored of the idea of having a bunch of bullies on his club,
Dressen had one player, catcher Gus Brittain, on the team for one
specific purpose - to act as a policeman. But the only guy that Brittain
fought with that year was his own teammate, pitcher Paul Derringer.
happened before a game when Derringer was warming up and Brittain was
catching him. Several of Derringer's curve balls broke sharply into the
dirr, hitting Brittain on the unprotected shins.
use that much stuff in a game, maybe you could get somebody out,"
Brittain suggested. Derringer took the barb as a joke and continued to
warm up. But quickly he realized Brittain wasn't kidding as the verbal