Author Archives: ramrod250

Thanks for 2018 — and on to 2019!

Thanks to everyone who helped make the summer 2018 launch of The Haught Corner a success beyond anything I could have imagined. So many of you generously donated their time and expertise to make this thing go!

The interviews have been great, and the friendships made have been even better.

And there will be even more cool stuff in 2019!

I still have a number of interviews to do, and occasional commentaries to write and voice. And I’m still working in tandem with Larry Dierker to produce a book about the 1987 Salt Lake Trappers and their 29-game winning streak. That project has slowed things down at THC for a little while, but rest assured, the site will be bigger and more diverse come New Year’s Day and beyond.

We’re even going multimedia, a little bit.

Baseball Library: The Lost Episodes I recently did a comprehensive inventory of The Baseball Library, which was a series of several-hundred “short takes” of 3-4 minutes each about baseball history. The aforementioned Mr. Dierker wrote and voiced these popular shows during his years as an Astros broadcaster.

During the course of the inventory, I discovered there were quite a few shows where

Dierker Mgr2

Larry Dierker

the original audio files were missing; only the scripts remained. Larry still owns the rights to all of the BBLib shows, and he offered to let me post them on THC.

Larry is pretty busy these days with the Trappers book and moving into a new house, so I volunteered to rerecord these “lost” episodes. Right after New Year’s, I will begin posting a few of these BBLib shows, and we’ll see how it goes. It should add a fun, new dimension to The Haught Corner.

See you January 1 — and thanks again!

What’s this all about?

The Haught Corner is about baseball. Old-school baseball and those who played, coached, managed, broadcast, and ran organizations the way I thought all that should be done. It is to honor those who gave much to me by fueling my love for the game.

It’s easy to respect and honor the superstars of the game; but there are so many more people who gave all they had, and helped to win games in many other ways than a walkoff hit or striking out the side.

Sure, we will talk about some of the superstars here; but we will also talk about pinch-hitters and platoon players and equipment managers and infield coaches — and so many more. They deserve to be talked about and remembered too, because all of them helped me to learn and enjoy the game in all of its endlessly fascinating complexity.

I believe baseball is man’s greatest invention. And The Haught Corner is here to honor and say thanks to all of you who helped me come to that conclusion, and who provided so many thrills along the way.

Jim Haught

Forever 14

Fred Norman

Manager Dave Bristol and pitcher Fred Norman will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame July 22.

Fred NormanNorman Topps

Fred Norman pitched 16 seasons in the big leagues for seven teams, winning 104 games with a 3.64 lifetime ERA. But his seven seasons with the Reds – where he was 85-64/3.43, with two World Series Championships and six postseason appearances – represented the peak of his career and resulted in his induction into the Reds Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.

“I wanted to be a winner. I wanted to be on a winning club,” said Norman in a Redlegs Nation podcast.

Drafted by the Kansas City Athletics as a high-school senior from Miami, Florida in 1961, Norman made his big-league debut in 1962, appearing in two games in relief. He bounced between the majors and minors for several seasons with four organizations and dealt with a career-threatening shoulder injury before he established himself with the San Diego Padres in 1971.

Norman pitched well against the Reds several times during his Padres years – a fact that did not go unnoticed by manager Sparky Anderson and the Reds’ front office.

In midseason 1973, the Reds needed pitching. The cash-strapped Padres needed money to make payroll. So on June 12 the Reds made one of their best trades, sending pitcher Mike Johnson, outfielder Gene Locklear, and cash to the Padres for Norman.

Norman threw a five-hit shutout of the Pirates in his first start for the Reds; a three-hit shutout in his second start; and came within one out of a third-consecutive shutout in his next start.

“I couldn’t wait to get to the Reds,” Norman said. “I was fired up, tingling with excitement.”

The Reds went 68-36 following the Norman trade, and erased a large deficit to the Dodgers to win the NL West before losing to the Mets in the League Championship Series.

“I don’t think we ever thought we could lose,” Norman said. “It was like a World Series every day.”

Norman was often used as a “swing man” for the Reds, pitching effectively in relief as well as starting games. In June 1975, Don Gullett broke the thumb on his pitching hand when hit by a Larvell Blanks line drive, and was sidelined for two months. Norman went back into the starting rotation and was 9-1 while Gullett was out.

“I was always ready to go,” he said. “I believe I picked up the club.”

Norman won more than 10 games in each of his Cincinnati seasons (1973-1979) and was known as a fierce competitor who hated to be removed from a game. Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman said Norman was the most intense competitor he has seen among the Reds’ pitchers, and Sparky Anderson recognized that and would allow Norman to “vent” a bit when Sparky came out of the dugout to change pitchers.

“Sparky knew he needed pitching to win,” Norman said. “I always respected Sparky. And Shep [pitching coach Larry Shepard] stood up for the pitchers.”

Norman considers 1977 to be his best season, when he was 14-13 with a 3.38 ERA for the second-place Reds. But the 1973 season was his favorite. He started 1-7 with San Diego and was 12-6 with the Reds.

After the 1979 season, Norman filed for free-agency and finished his career with a 4-4/4.13 season for Montreal.

“It all worked out so well,” Norman said. I got to be on a super team, and made my dreams come true.”

Dave Bristol

Manager Dave Bristol and pitcher Fred Norman will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame July 22, 2018.

Dave Bristol


Dave Bristol has come full circle.

He began his career in the Reds organization at age 18 in 1951 at Welch in the Appalachian League, and by 1957 he was player-manager of the Hornell Redlegs. By 1964 he was manager of the Reds’ top farm team, AAA San Diego, and in 1966 he was added to the major-league coaching staff under manager Don Heffner.

In midseason that year, Heffner was fired and Bristol became manager of the big-league club. He held that post through the end of the 1969 season, when the Reds finished four games behind the Atlanta Braves in the first year of divisional play.

When Bristol took over in Cincinnati at age 33 – the youngest manager in the big leagues — the Reds’ roster was loaded with players he had helped develop in the minor leagues: Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Tony Perez, Art Shamsky, Chico Ruiz, and many more. The team that became known as the Big Red Machine had winning records in each of Bristol’s seasons as manager, and clearly bore his imprint.

“He did everything he could to make you a better baseball player and a better person,” said Reds Hall of Fame member Tommy Helms. “I was blessed to play for him.”

Bristol’s calling-cards as a manager were relentless work on fundamentals and a willingness to stand up for all of his players.

Darrel Chaney broke into the big leagues with the Reds in 1969, Bristol’s third full season as manager. “Dave was a ‘fundamental’ maniac,” Chaney recalls. “He used to tell us, ‘Boys, you only get 27 outs. Treat them like precious gems.’”

[Dave was]” a tough competitor and [had] a love for baseball that was off the charts,” said Johnny Bench. “He lived and breathed the game.”

“I love him,” Chaney said. “He had the guts to bring me to the big leagues. You don’t get to manage five major-league teams without knowing what you’re doing. He’s a great baseball man and a great human being.

“I live in Georgia, but my heart is in Cincinnati, and that’s because of Dave,” he added. I’m so happy to come back and see him get inducted.”

“In baseball, fun is spelled w-i-n,” Bristol said. “That’s why you play this game.”

With his induction into the Reds Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2018, the 85-year-old baseball lifer’s place in Reds history will be secure.