Dave Bristol

Manager Dave Bristol and pitcher Fred Norman will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame July 21, 2018.

Dave Bristol

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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.