George Foster

George Foster“I’ve got to believe that Foster is the cleanest living athlete in sports,” manager Sparky Anderson said. “The way he takes care of his body, there’s no telling how long he’ll be able to play this game.”

Foster played 18 years and when he retired in 1986 his body was still in wonderful condition. In his prime, Foster was one of the most dangerous right-handed hitters in baseball, leading the majors in RBIs three straight seasons from 1976-1978, wielding his signature black-stained bat. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1977 when he hit 52 homers, becoming the first batter to reach 50 since Willie Mays twelve seasons earlier.

Foster was part of the vaunted Big Red Machine that won World Series titles in 1975 and 1976 and advanced to the post-season five times from 1972-1979. The left fielder was an All-Star in four of those seasons for Cincinnati, but his time in Cincinnati wasn’t always so glamorous. In his first few years with the Reds after arriving in a trade from the Giants, he had to overcome a stigma that he couldn’t hit right-handed pitching and wasn’t a good outfielder. But when he was finally given a chance (at one point the Reds even sent him to the minor leagues) he added another power bat to the Cincinnati lineup, joining Johnny Bench and Tony Perez from the right side.

Foster was known for using his black bat and also for his long sideburns. He had one of the quickest swings in baseball, but even though he swung hard, Foster hit over .300 four times.

  • The members of “The Great Eight” on the Big Red Machine were: catcher Johnny Bench, first baseman Tony Perez, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Dave Concepcion, third baseman Pete Rose, left fielder George Foster, center fielderCesar Geronimo, and right fielder Ken Griffey. Four of them won an MVP award (combining for six awards in all), they combined for 24 Gold Glove Awards, won four home run titles, six RBI crowns, and made a collective 57 All-Star Games. Six of the eight players had at least 2,000 hits in their careers, and another (Foster) had 1,925.