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Clerisy Press :: Authors :: Mark J. Schmetzer

Mark J. Schmetzer
Cincinnati, Ohio

Schmetzer started his writing career with the weekly Community Press in Cincinnati in 1979 as a news reporter and editor before switching to sports in 1981. He became editor of RedsVue, the official newspaper of the Reds, in the 1983 and stayed with the publication through 1987 before returning to news. He moved to Michigan in 1989 to help start The Wolverine, the University of Michigan sports newspaper, and started working with RedsVue’s replacement, Reds Report, in 1990. He returned to Cincinnati in 1991 and, besides continuing with Reds Report, has covered Cincinnati sports as a freelancer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Associated Press and other publications. The 2010 season was the twenty-fifth out of the last twenty-seven in which he covered the Reds on a daily basis. The 1961 Reds clinched the National League pennant on his sixth birthday. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife, Sharon. This is his first book.

Mark J. Schmetzer
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Before the Machine: The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Reds
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Before the Machine: The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Reds
Mark J. Schmetzer

The Big Red Machine dominated major league baseball in the 1970s, but the Cincinnati franchise began its climb to that pinnacle in 1961, when an unlikely collection of cast-offs and wannabes stunned the baseball world by winning the National League pennant. Led by revered manager Fred Hutchinson, the team featured rising stars like Frank Robinson, Jim O’Toole, and Vada Pinson, fading stars like Gus Bell and Wally Post, and a few castoffs who suddenly came into their own, like Gene Freese and 20-game-winner Joey Jay.

In time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their pennant-winning season, the amazing story of the “Ragamuffin Reds” is told from start to finish in Before the Machine. Written by long-time Reds Report editor Mark J. Schmetzer and featuring dozens of photos by award-winning photographer Jerry Klumpe of the Cincinnati Post & Times Star, this book surely will be a winner with every fan in Reds country and coincides with an anniversary exhibit at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

Through interviews and research, Before the Machine captures the excitement of a pennant race for a team that had suffered losing seasons in 14 of the past 16 years. Schmetzer also beautifully evokes the time and place—a muggy Midwestern summer during which, as the new song of the season boasts, “the whole town’s batty for that team in Cincinnati.” Led by regional talk-show star Ruth Lyons (the Midwest’s “Oprah”) fans rallied around the Reds as never before.

The year didn’t begin well for the team. Budding superstar Frank Robinson was arrested right before spring training for carrying a concealed weapon, and long-time owner Powel Crosley Jr., died suddenly just days before the start of the season. Few experts—or fans—gave the Reds much of a chance at first place anyway. With powerhouse teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Milwaukee, the National League pennant was unlikely to fly over Cincinnati’s Crosley Field.

But manager Hutchinson somehow galvanized his motley crew and led them to victory after victory. Joey Jay, who had languished with the Braves, mowed down hitters while his rotation mates O’Toole and knuckleballer Bob Purkey did the same. The team also featured a dynamic duo in the bullpen in Bill Henry and Jim Brosnan, whose book about the season, Pennant Race, became a national bestseller the following year. As the rest of the league kept waiting for the Reds to fade, Hutch’s boys kept winning—and finally grabbed the pennant.

Though they couldn’t continue their magic in the World Series against the Yankees, the previously moribund Reds franchise did continue to their success throughout the decade, winning 98 games in 1962 and falling just short of another pennant in 1964. They established a recipe for success that would lead, a few years later, to the emergence of the Big Red Machine.

Market price: $15.95
Our price: $11.96 save 25%
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The Comeback Kids
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The Comeback Kids
Mark J. Schmetzer and Joe Jacobs

Few experts picked the Reds to win the National League Central Division Championship. Loaded with great young talent, the team was expected to move up in the standings and maybe even to break its nine-year streak of losing seasons. But win the division? Hardly.

No one realized the level of heart and tenacity this team possessed, the pluck and verve this team could summon in the face of adversity. The Reds came from behind to win 45 games, and whenever they took a tough loss, they bounced back the next game. They truly were “The Comeback Kids.” As baseball fans throughout the country waited for them slide back to expectations, they just kept hustling—and winning.

The Reds led the league in many offensive categories, with a lineup anchored by budding superstar Joey Votto and aging veteran Scott Rolen. Though the pitching staff lacked a true ace, many pitchers contributed quality games. The bullpen did the same, until September, when heralded phenom Aroldis Chapman came up from the minor leagues and threw 100 mph fastballs, taking the staff to a whole new level.

The Comeback Kids tells the remarkable story of the 2010 Reds, a team that relied on every player to achieve a stunning division championship. Featuring nearly 100 photos, this full-color book is the ultimate keepsake for every Reds fan, helping them remember a season, and a team, they never want to forget.

Market price: $22.95
Our price: $17.21 save 25%
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