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Before the Machine: The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Reds Paperback – April 1, 2011

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Before the Machine: The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Reds + The Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds (Memorable Teams in Baseball History)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Clerisy Press (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157860463X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578604630
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Free-lance sportswriter Mark J. Schmetzer has lived in Cincinnati for all but 22 months since he was born in 1955. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1978 with a Broadcasting degree, he started a newspaper career that led to covering the Cincinnati Reds in 1984. He's been on that beat for all but two years ever since, as well as covering numerous other sports on all levels for several different publications. He is co-author of "The Comeback Kids," a book about the Reds' 2010 season published by Clerisy Press, and the author of "Before The Machine," a book about the 1961 Reds season, also published by Clerisy Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Solomon on May 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
I actually enjoyed this book more than the one about the 1975 Big Red Machine.

I think the reason is the story of the 1961 Cincinnati Reds isn't as well-known as the one about the 1975 team, which played in a memorable World Series that it won.

The book does have a slight ulterior motive: to redeem the reputation of Bill DeWitt, the general manager of the Reds in the 1960s who gave away Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, saying he was "an old 30 [years old]."

The author points out all the trades Bill DeWitt made before and during the 1961 season that not only worked out, but also built a team that won the National League pennant after finishing 6th in 1960.

In general, this book really brings baseball in 1960 and 1961 alive.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brad Coffman on July 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would argue that there was never a better time for a young boy to be a Reds fan than the 1961-64 seasons in Cincinnati. Not only was the National League playing baseball at its highest level, the Reds were right in the mix with the other great teams in the league.
From 1960-64, five different teams won the pennant and went on to meet the hated Yankees in the World Series. For those interested in the 1961 season, when the Reds turn to win came up, there are two excellent books available. "Pennant Race" was written by Jim Brosnan in 1962 based on a diary the Reds relief pitcher kept during the 1961 season. Brosnan's first book, "The Long Season" was a best seller written about his adventures during the 1959 season where he started with the Cards and finished with the Reds. As a Reds fan my favorite was always "Pennant Race" as I attended my first game at Crosley Field in 1961 and as an 11 year-old was caught up in the pennant fever that overtook the town and the surrounding areas in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Brosnan's book was insightful, humorous, and true and has had the effect of keeping the team forever young, still playing in the memories of Crosley Field for a boy of 11, now turned 60, in the 50th anniversary of that great season.
It was with mixed feelings that I began to read, "Before the Machine-The story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Cincinnat Reds"(2011), by Mark J. Schmetzer. The truth is I enjoyed the book very much. Instead of the day-to-day limitations of a diary, the reader is given a broader picture of the season, both on and off the field, and from the viewpoints of mangement and coaches as well as the players, in most cases well past 1961 when the season could be put into perspective.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Paul on July 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Before the Machine is about Cincinnati's early sixties pennant that preceded their mid seventies success. It's a quick read due in part to b&w photos every few pages. Mark Schmetzer clearly researched this thoroughly based on quotes from numerous players, baseball insiders, and other observers. There are also plenty of play by play accounts, but they sometimes bog down the narrative.

It's an interesting story that captures the drama and excitement of the Reds season. There is plenty of background on how the team was formed. Many snippets of baseball at that time round out a book that's more than just a one dimensional team yearbook.

I recommend Before the Machine for any baseball fan.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David H Rose on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great read for anyone who grew up a Reds fan in the 60s and 70s. Jim Brosnan painted a great picture of the inside of the 1961 Reds in Pennant Season. But this book gives a much bigger picture look at that season, what led up to it and what followed. It describes what was happening in SW Ohio at that time and the culture of the period (Ruth Lyons, the WLW network, Crosley Field sun deck, Waite Hoyt stories, traveling to games from the surrounding 3 state area). More than just a story of that team and season, the book is a look at a different time and place.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on December 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Cincinnati Reds surprised the baseball world in 1961 by taking the National League pennant by four games over the Dodgers; after all, the last time they ruled the National League was way back in 1940 - before Ted Williams hit .406 and before Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games (1941).

Author Mark Schmetzer has commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of this milestone season for the Reds with an interesting behind-the-scenes account of how a core of young up and coming players - led by Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson - blended with an assortment of "no-name" players to play an aggressive, winning style of baseball. Manager Fred Hutchinson skillfully put all the pieces of this somewhat rag-tag band of players together to scrape out 93 wins - good enough for a trip to the World Series. Unfortunately for the Reds, they were up against the New York Yankees - a team that was performing at its peak with that notorious cast of characters featuring the likes of Mantle, Maris and Ford. After splitting the first two games of the World Series at home, Cincinnati was over-matched by the Bronx Bombers the next three games at Yankee Stadium.

What makes this story compelling is the way this band of players worked cohesively as a team, day in and day out, doing all the little things necessary to forge out win after win against teams that were considered superior in talent. In the process, the Reds had started a new tradition of winning that would be further enhanced by Pete Rose's arrival in '63 - by the '70s, they were clearly the class of baseball, as The Big Red Machine. Much has been written about that great dynasty; this is a welcome addition to Cincinnati Reds folklore - how it all began back in 1961.
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Before the Machine: The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Reds
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