California League (1966-1974)
Died: 1975 – Affiliation change to Modesto A’s.
Stadium: Del Webb Field
The Modesto Reds were a Class A minor league baseball team in the California League from 1966 to 1974. Contrary to what you might expect, the Reds were not a farm club of the Cincinnati Reds. Rather “Reds” was a traditional name for Modesto ball clubs, dating back to the original Reds of the California State League (1914-1915) and a prior Postwar incarnation of the Reds that operated from 1946-1961.
In 1966 Modesto was a Kansas City Athletics affiliate and from 1967 through 1974 the Reds were part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ system. Both Major League parents had terrific farm systems and a parade of future Major Leaguer stars spent time in Modesto during the latter-day Reds era:
Serving the Athletics in 1966, Modesto had an incredible roster that included three future Hall-of-Famers in Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Tony LaRussa along with future Oakland A’s All-Stars Dave Duncan and Joe Rudi.
In 1968, the Reds featured three future National League All-Stars in outfielders Jose Cruz and Willie Montanez and catcher Ted Simmons. Pitcher Pedro Borbon, who would win two World Series titles with the Cincinnati Reds in the mid-1970′s, was also on this unusually deep (for Class A) ball club.
Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky pitched for Modesto as a 19-year old first round draft pick in the summer of ’69. He went 8-2 in Modesto and was in the Majors a year later, where the colorful closer would stay for 13 seasons.
A weak-hitting third baseman named Bob Forsch spent parts of two summers in Modesto in 1969 and 1970. In 1970 Forsch hit a meager .149 with 21 strikeouts in 47 at-bats. The following year the Cardinals converted Forsch to pitcher. During a 16-year career in the Majors, Forsch would win 168 games, pitch two no-hitters, and win a World Series with the Cards in 1982.
One of Forsch’s teammates on the 1970 Modesto team was 21-year old outfielder Bake McBride. McBride won the 1974 National League Rookie-of-the-Year award in St. Louis and played in the Bigs for 10 seasons.
19-year old pitcher John Denny went 7-5 for Modesto in 1972. A decade later Denny won the National League Cy Young Award for the Philadelphia Phillies, helping lead that club to a World Series visit.
In 1975 Modesto shifted back to the Athletics minor league system after eight seasons with St. Louis. With the change in parents the club was renamed the Modesto A’s that spring. The California League franchise continues to play in Modesto today and has been known as the Modesto Nuts since its most recent (2005) re-branding.
California League Programs