After a horrible 1-8 season in 1960, the Reds traded hometown favorite "Hamilton" Joe Nuxhall to the Kansas City Athletics on this date, Jan. 25, in 1961.
After his historic debut as a 15-year-old in 1944, Nuxhall returned to the Reds in 1952 at age 23. He won 83 games for in the club in the 1950s – going 12-5 in 1954 and 17-12 in 1955. He led the National League with 5 shutouts in 1955, and made the All-Star teams in 1955 and 1956.
Then he fell apart in 1960 with a 1-8 record and 4.42 ERA at age 32.
"When I left, the fans were really on me, which I really deserved, because I was terrible," he told me years later while enjoying a second career as Reds radio announcer.
Kansas City gave up two right-handed pitchers for Nuxhall: John Tsitouris, who won 29 and lost 33 games for the Reds from 1962 to his retirement in 1968; and John Briggs, a 5-year MLB veteran who never pitched for the Reds --or any other team in the big leagues after the trade.
For Kansas City in 1961, Nuxy won 5 and lost 8 mostly in the bullpen -- while the Reds won the National League and went to the World Series for the first time in 21 years, since 1940.
It got worse for Nuxhall. Two months after the World Series, Kansas City released him in December. The Baltimore Orioles signed him, then sold him to the 2-year-old Los Angeles Angels at Opening Day. The Angeles released him in May after he gave up 6 runs, 7 hits and 5 walks in only 5 innings (0-0, 10.13 ERA).
Nuxhall's career was resurrected by the Reds' AAA franchise, the old San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. He finally got his pitches – and temper --under control. In 15 games, he won 9 and lost 2 with 3 shut-outs and 7 complete games. He was back in Cincinnati on July 21, before his 34th birthday.
Nuxhall was a terrific 5-0 in 1962, and followed with a 15-8 record and 14 complete games in 1963. The older and wise lefthander was 46-28 in his comeback stint with the Reds (1962-66), bolstering his Cincinnati numbers to 130-109 in 15 seasons.
Overall, he was 135-117 with a 3.90 ERA in 16 seasons before retiring in spring 1967 at age 38 to the Reds radio booth – where he became a Reds icon. He broadcast Reds games full-time for 38 years, including 31 with Marty Brennaman, a Major League Baseball record. He died in 2007 at age 79.
Nux was eternally grateful to Reds fans, especially those in Crosley Field for his 1962 comeback.
"When I came back, I was looking for that same (negative) feeling (from 1960)," he told me.
"But the first game I pitched in that year… I came in in relief, and walking all the way in from the bullpen, there were cheers. I think that meant as much as anything," he said.
"Had they booed, I would have probably forced myself into things, trying to do too good, trying too hard, and really embarrassed myself."
Instead he became a beloved Cincinnati icon.