Reds' 2010 HOF class an eclectic mix

Reds' 2010 HOF class an eclectic mix

CINCINNATI -- Talk about an eclectic mixing of the eras. The 2010 class of Reds Hall of Famers came from three distinct moments in the franchise's long history.

Chris Sabo, Pedro Borbon and Tony Mullane were elected to the Reds Hall of Fame, in an announcement revealed on Tuesday.

Sabo was selected by the fans on a modern player ballot while Borbon and Mullane were named via a vote by the Reds Hall of Fame veterans committee, which is comprised of members, Hall of Famers, fans and Hall of Fame executives.

"I've been retired a long time," Sabo said during a press conference at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. "Being elected to this means I'm officially old, I guess. It's exciting. I loved playing ball."

Joining Bill Werber and Henie Groh, Sabo is only the third third baseman to be inducted into the club's highest honor. Of 18,726 ballots cast, he received 8,353.

Known for wearing his trademark goggles, the scrappy Sabo was a key member of the 1990 World Series championship team. In 818 games for Cincinnati from 1988-93 and 1996, he batted .270 with 104 home runs and 373 RBIs.

"Obviously it's a great honor," Sabo said. "This is probably it for me being in the Reds Hall of Fame as far as my baseball career. I got voted by the fans. My career wasn't that great, trust me. Fans always liked me. I could always look in the mirror and say I gave it the best I could. I always tried hard. I played on some great teams with great teammates. We had fun."

In 1988, Sabo became one of only seven players in Reds history to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. He was a three-time NL All-Star in 1988 and 1990-91.

During the four-game World Series sweep over Oakland, Sabo batted .563, hit two home runs, and drove in three runs during the Game 3 win.

"Making it this year is timely because it's been 20 years from when the Reds won the World Series," said Rick Walls, the executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. "He was a very important part of that team."

Defensively, Sabo twice led NL third basemen in fielding percentage and once finished second.

While the Big Red Machine years were known most for the cadre of great hitters, Borbon was a member of the Reds' bullpen from 1970-78 -- when he appeared in more games than any pitcher in the NL.

Over his 10 years in Cincinnati, the right-handed Borbon was 62-33 with a 3.32 ERA and 76 saves in a club-record 531 games. As a member of the 1975-76 World Series winners and playoff teams in 1970, 1972 and 1973, he pitched in 20 postseason games during his Reds career and posted a 2.42 ERA.

"Guys on the veterans' committee felt everyone looks at the Great Eight, but forget the pitching staff," Walls said. "Looking at what Pedro Borbon did for those championship teams, the Reds might not have been as good without him."

Borbon will become the third relief pitcher inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame, joining Clay Carroll (1980) and Wayne Granger (1982).

"This guy was Mr. Dependable," Walls said.

It's likely that no living eyes saw Mullane, whose career will come into focus more than 106 years after he pitched in his last Major League game.

"It was important to represent all of the different eras of Reds history," Walls said. "When you date back to 1869, there will be a lot of great players over the years. Picking Hall of Famers is difficult because there are so many, but Mullane stood above the rest."

A native of Ireland and a right-handed pitcher for the Reds from 1886-92, who sometimes threw left-handed, Mullane was a two-time 30-game winner and three-time 20-game winner with Cincinnati.

"I heard last week and I'm still absolutely thrilled," said Cairril Mills, a descendent of Mullane's who lives in Bloomington, Ind.

Mills has spent many years searching for other Mullane descendents and trying to learn more about his personal life. Naturally, she has found plenty of data online about his baseball career.

Second behind Eppa Rixey on the Reds' all-time wins list with 163, Mullane completed a club record 264 of 285 or 93 percent of his starts.

"He played barehanded and ambidextrously and every position on the field," Mills said. "He clearly was a really good player."

An old-school matinee idol with the ladies, Mullane was nicknamed "The Apollo of the Box" because of his handsome looks and was credited with the development of "Ladies Day" at the ballpark.

"He seemed to be a dashing chap, as someone referred to him," Mills said. "He was a classic Irishman of the times. He had a lot of charm and a lot of talent. He could be divisive because he always tried negotiating for more money. His manager once locked him in the hotel to keep him from leaving, but he snuck out to join the Reds."

Mullane, who died in 1944 at the age of 85, will be the seventh member of the Reds Hall of Fame to have played all or part of his career in the 19th century.

The Reds Hall of Fame is the largest and oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame in baseball with roots that date back to 1958. It's membership will increase to 72 players, three managers and three executives once Sabo, Borbon and Mullane are formally honored next summer during induction ceremonies at Great American Ball Park.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.