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“Slinky” Ron Reed Joins the Phillies Wall of Fame

Phillies Wall of Fame Reliever Ron Reed
Ron Reed will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame later this year

Ron Reed was a dominant reliever for the Phillies for eight seasons. He was used as a closer, set-up specialist and a multiple-innings eater. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was extremely durable, never spending any time on a disabled list because of arm or shoulder injuries.

His accomplishments will be acknowledged on August 6 when he and teammate Bake McBride are inducted into the Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame. Reed will become the second reliever on the wall, joining his bullpen buddy, Tug McGraw.

Reed, 79, and McBride, 73, are the 10th and 11th players from the 1980 World Series championship club to be honored with a bronze plaque on the wall.

Reed’s journey to the bullpen had some unusual twists. A basketball player and pitcher at the University of Notre Dame, he was selected in the third round of the 1965 NBA draft (Detroit Pistons), but not taken in baseball’s first summer draft.

Reed excelled at both baseball and basketball – going pro in both.

He averaged 7.5 and 6.5 points in his two NBA seasons (1965-67). Highlights included a 30-point game and a 20-rebound game and “playing against the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor. I’m so glad I can say I played against those Hall of Fame players.

“I decided to give up basketball and concentrate on baseball,” he continued. “I figured longevity was greater in baseball.” He made the right decision, pitching in the majors for 19 seasons.

The Atlanta Braves offered him a minor league contract in 1965. After pitching for four clubs over two seasons, he reached the majors, starting against San Francisco on September 26, 1966. He lost, 8-2. The fourth batter he faced homered…Willie McCovey.

As a starter, he reached double figures in wins five times with the Braves. After 10 games with Atlanta in 1975, he was traded to the Cardinals. He went a combined 13-13 with a 3.52 ERA in 34 starts between both clubs.

That winter, Phillies GM Paul Owens acquired him from the Cardinals for a young outfielder, Mike Anderson. Reed’s Phillies career almost ended before it ever started. 

“Danny Ozark called me right after the trade was announced,” Reed recalled. “He told me, ‘We are looking for a 250-inning starter.’ I told him, ‘You got the right guy.’ I was gung-ho to join Carlton, Lonborg, Kaat and LC.”

“Then, in Clearwater, Danny told me I’d be going to the bullpen. I was shocked, not very happy and asked to be traded. He said something like, ‘We think you will be a great reliever, a chance to pitch often with the arm you have. Give it a try.’ 

“The next day Danny called me into his office. Pope [GM Paul Owens] was sitting there. He said by going to the ’pen I could help the club every day. With me, Tug and Gene-o [Gene Garber], we would have a deep and strong ’pen. He asked me to give it a try and if things went well by the All-Star break, he’d give me a bonus check. If it wasn’t going well, he would consider trading me.

“I decided to try. I don’t think I would have made it if it wasn’t for Gene-o. He taught me a lot about relieving, the mindset needed and how to not overuse your arm. After the All-Star Game, Pope lived up to his word and gave me a check… not the kind of money you see today,” Reed laughed.

Reed led the club in saves in 1976, 1978 and 1982. Joining Tug and Reed in the 1980 bullpen were Dickie Noles, Warren Brusstar and Kevin Saucier.

During the 2008 World Series, he was glued to the TV set when Brad Lidge ended the Series with a strikeout. “Hey, the Phillies have won two World Series and each time they had a reliever from Notre Dame. You can look it up,” he laughed.

Ron Reed File

Ronald Lee Reed … Born November 2, 1942, LaPorte, IN… Grad of LaPointe High School… Attended University of Notre Dame… Resides in suburban Atlanta… Married Julie Gentry; two daughters, Jodi and Ali; one grandson.

MLB Career

Pitched for Atlanta Braves (1966-75), St. Louis Cardinals (1975), Phillies (1976-83) and Chicago White Sox (1984)… 1968 NL All-Star… Winning pitcher for Atlanta the night Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run.

Phillies Career

Wore No. 42 for eight seasons, 1976-83… 449 games out of the bullpen, 8 starts… Averaged 57 games, 101 innings, 7 wins and 11 saves… Ranks first among club relievers in wins (54) and innings (763.0), second in strikeouts (519), third in games (449) and seventh in saves (90)… Posted a 2.49 ERA from 1976-78… Logged more than 100 relief innings four straight seasons, 1976-79… Pitched in 21 postseason games over one Division Series, five League Championship Series and two World Series… Had a 1.69 ERA in five WS appearances. 


Bigfoot and Slinky… “LC [Larry Christenson] called me Bigfoot because of my size-15 boats. Ron Schueler said I threw like the Slinky toy.”

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