Dave Concepcion (13) Days Until Cincinnati Reds Report to Spring Training


In just 13 days, Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training, and dreams throughout the Riverfront will turn to visions of post-season glory.  Reds fans, of course, have a historical backdrop for such hopes, as we (or our fathers or grandfathers) witnessed the greatness of The Big Red Machine in the mid 1970s. One standout on that storied club was shortstop Dave Concepcion, and he is Number 13 on our Countdown Team.

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Concepcion was signed as an amateur free agent by the Reds in 1967, just as Pete Rose was coming into his own and on the eve of Johnny Bench‘s Major League debut.   It would take three years for Davey to work his way through the Reds’ minor league season, but he broke camp with the Reds in April of 1970 and never looked back. Cincinnati won their first of four National League pennants in the decade that season, and Concepcion established himself as a regular at age 22.

Concepcion was an immediate standout in the field, and he improved steadily at the plate, progressing from a low-average, low-power hitter to one who regularly finished performed well above average with the bat in his hand.  By 1975, Concepcion was a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner who could smack 10 home runs per season and was a threat to steal 30 bases.

Unlike many of his Big Red Machine teammates, Concepcion stayed in Cincinnati for the long haul and suffered through the very dark years of the early 1980s.  He was rewarded with four years of contention late in his career, as the Reds finished second in the old National League West division every season from 1985-88.  That 1988 season would be Concepcion’s last, as Barry Larkin had established himself as a star shortstop.

At age 40, Concepcion played all around the infield and even pitched in one game, but he decided it was time to call it quits.

Overall, in 19 seasons with the Reds, Concepcion tallied 2326 hits, batting .267 with 101 homers and 321 stolen bases. As the Ozzie Smith phenomenon came to prominence in St. Louis, Concepcion’s defense lost some of its luster in the eyes of some voters, but he still ended up with five Gold Gloves.

On the Hall of Fame ballot, Concepcion topped out at 16.9% percent in 1998 but fell out of consideration after his 15th go-round in 2008.  If he is to be elected to Cooperstown, it will have to come at the hands of the Veterans Committee.


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