Hudepohl Cincinnati Reds can (1976)
Hudepohl Brewing in Cincinnati issued this can in early 1976 to celebrate the Reds' victory over the Boston Red Sox in the 1975 World Series. I was 16 in 1975 and after the disappointments in the post-seasons in 1970, 1972 and 1973, I certainly could not wait for my Reds to win. My Dad, also a big Reds fan, bought this can at the store and drank it for me. I've treasured it ever since.
Hudepohl Brewing 1885-1986
Hudepohl was founded in 1885. I am going to leave the early history of the brewery for another time when I add an older Hudy can as my COM. Check my March 2010 COM for more about Hudepohl in the 1980s.
The Big Red Machine
I won't give the entire history of the Reds but briefly, they were the first professional baseball club, founded as the Red Stockings in 1869 and winning 130 straight games from 1869-1870. They were charter members of the National League in 1876. They played in the major-league American Association from 1882 after being kicked out of the NL for serving beer and playing games on Sundays! It was here in the AA that they won their first pennant, in 1882. They rejoined the NL after the 1889 season. The 1919 Reds won their first World Series against the infamous Chicago White Sox, in a series that Reds fans still swear they would have won in an honest series. (The Reds (96-44) had a far better season record that the Sox (88-52) in 1919).
Cincinnati won the NL pennant in 1939 and the World Series in 1940 (1940 pictured here). In the late 1940s and most of the 1950s they were a second division team, except for the 1956 and 1957 seasons. Then in 1961 they unexpectedly won the pennant again and remained a good team (except for 1966 and 1971) for the next two decades.
Around 1969 they were nick-named the Big Red Machine for their powerful offense. Cincinnati won the pennant in 1970 but with an injured pitching staff were over-whelmed by the awesome Baltimore Orioles in the Series. In 1972, after a major trade had added several players including Joe Morgan and Jack Billingham, they roared back and won another pennant but were surprised by the Oakland As in seven games. In 1973 they had the best record in baseball but lost the pennant to the Mets who had great pitching. In 1974 they had the second best record in baseball, but, alas, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the best record and won the division and the pennant. By 1975 Reds fans feared that the Big Red Machine had an automatic choke installed!
1975 was a GREAT year to be a Reds fan. The season started slowly and by May they were only 12-12. Then Manager Sparky Anderson moved outfielder Pete Rose to third base, thus replacing a no-hit 3d baseman and opening a spot in the outfield so both Ken Griffey Sr. and George Foster could play every day. The team caught fire, passed the Dodgers and never looked back. They won 108 games, beat the Dodgers by 20 games in the NL West, won four gold gloves and lead the NL in stolen bases, outscored every other team by 100 runs and committed 25 fewer errors than any other team. The team included Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and manager Sparky Anderson. Pete Rose would be in the HOF except for his gambling and shortstop David Concepcion deserves to be in the Hall!
In the post season they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in 3 games. In the World Series though they faced the Boston Red Sox and suddenly the Big Red Machine had an opponent that wouldn't roll over. The Sox won game 1. The Reds came back and won games 2 and 3. Game 3 is remembered mostly for a play at home plate. The Red Sox catcher, Carlton Fisk, ran into Cincinnati batter Ed Armbrister and threw wild to second base. The Red Sox complained that Armbrister interfered but the umpire ruled otherwise. The Red Sox won game 4 and the Reds won game 5 as my favorite player of all time, Tony Perez, broke his batting slump and hit two homers.
Game 6 was exciting as a game could be with the lead switching between teams and the game going into extra innings. Then Carlton Fisk hit a 12th inning homer that barely went fair to win the game, and almost giving me a fatal heart attack back in Ohio at age 16! The Reds in game 7 came back though, keeping faith with themselves and their fans as Perez hit a pitch out of Fenway Park to bring the Reds back into the game, and in the end Joe Morgan drove in the go ahead run. AND THIS ONE BELONGS TO THE REDS!
Hudepohl hired commercial artist John Ham to illustrate the can. Ham came up with several scenes from the series, but avoided making any of the players look too much like actual players to meet regulations forbidding active players from promoting the sales of an alcoholic beverage. Production issues delayed the cans being issued until March 15, 1976. They remained on sale through out the summer and were very popular with Reds fans and can collectors.
Hudepohl--and Ham--did the same a year later to celebrate the 1976 Reds win over the Yankees in 4 straight games. The second can came out in January 1977 and was equally popular. Alas, there was not to be a third can. The Reds traded Tony Perez after the 1976 season and the Big Red Machine sputtered out, not winning another Series until 1990.
There is a variation that I know of in the 1975 World Series can. The background of the Hudepohl logo is beige instead of white, and the box with the game scores in it is a darker beige. Both were made by American can. They have the same seam, same text, and same construction. Their fonts are slightly different on some of the text. Some of the colors are also very slightly different (some are a tad darker on the variation), and the lids are different. The darker can (on the right) is by far the scarcer of the two but it's not really worth much more. There are not a lot of collectors who care about this variation, just those of us who collect Hudepohls. I paid $3.50 for it on eBay, as opposed to the more common one which can be had for a quarter or half-dollar or so at can shows.
Here are the two variations side-by-side.
The Hudepohl Sports Cans, Reds & Bengals
Both cans, as well as the later Hudepohl cans celebrating the Cincinnati Bengals (Hu-Dey Beer) are very common and are only worth about 50 cents each (The Hudy Bengals gallon is worth more). But they're popular souvenirs for Cincinnati fans! GO REDS!
"100 Years Hudepohl Brewing Company: 1885-1985" Published by the brewery but it has numerous inaccuracies.
Holian, Timothy J. Over the Barrel: The Brewing History and Beer Culture of Cincinnati. Volume 2. Prohibition-2001. (Sudhaus, 2001)
See also my May 2014 COM for more on Hudepohl.