In 1934, motivated by civic pride and a love of baseball, entrepreneur and industrialist Powel Crosley, Jr. purchased a financially strapped Cincinnati Reds franchise. Crosley brought stability and innovation to the Reds. During his nearly three decades of stewardship, the Reds organization introduced night baseball to the Major Leagues, saw the expansion of its home ballpark, solidified the grand Cincinnati Opening Day tradition, hosted two All-Star games, fielded some of the most memorable teams in club history and strengthened its position as an integral part of the civic and cultural fabric of Greater Cincinnati.
The Powel Crosley, Jr. Award honors individuals who have exemplified the Crosley spirit of dedication and devotion to the ongoing success of the Cincinnati Reds during extended careers of service to and achievement with the club. The contributions of these individuals have been vital to the Reds organization sustaining its position of prominence and respect in the game of baseball and the community.
In December of 1966 Mr. and Mrs. Louis Nippert joined with 12 other Cincinnati investors to purchase the Cincinnati Reds, beginning a four-decade long ownership interest in the club that is the longest in Reds history. Assuming majority ownership in 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Nippert presided over the most glorious period in franchise history that saw the Reds win four division titles, two National League pennants and two World Championships in seven seasons.
Mr. Nippert was credited for remaining behind the scenes, astutely entrusting gifted general manager Bob Howsam and his staff with the day-to-day operations of the club, providing the resources necessary to maintain what was widely considered the finest organization in baseball. Reds players looked fondly upon Mrs. Nippert for her devotion to fostering a family atmosphere within the organization, an environment that they believed contributed greatly to the team's success.
The Nipperts sold their majority ownership interest in the club in 1981 but retained a minority interest that is still held by Mrs. Nippert , who has also maintained the Nippert family's great philanthropic tradition that benefits countless individuals and organizations throughout the Greater Cincinnati community.
The Reds clubhouse manager since 1968, Bernie Stowe began his Reds career as a clubhouse boy in 1947. Since that time, Stowe has been the best friend a Red could have, devoting countless hours to ensuring that Reds players' equipment and uniform needs are met and that the clubhouse is a comfortable and enjoyable place for players to prepare for the game and wind down afterward.
A part of three of the five World Championship teams in Reds history and six of the franchise's nine pennant-winning clubs, the excellence of Stowe's work has been recognized by his selection as equipment manager for four National League All-Star teams. In 2003, the Reds clubhouse at Great American Ball Park was officially named after Stowe to commemorate his years of service and his role as a living link to over six decades of Reds history.
Gene Bennett began his association with the Reds organization as a minor league player in 1952. He moved into a part-time scouting position following the 1958 season and gradually saw his responsibilities increase until he was promoted to scouting supervisor for Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Indiana in 1975. His many notable signings include Reds Hall of Famers Don Gullett and Barry Larkin, All-Stars Paul O'Neill, Jeff Russell and Chris Sabo and longtime major leaguers Charlie Leibrandt and Dave Tomlin. Larkin, O'Neill and Sabo were regularly in the same lineup during the Reds' World Championship season in 1990. Bennett has also served as an advance scout at the major league level for the Reds and has supervised countless amateur try-out camps. In 1992, he was named Special Assistant to the General Manager. A 14-time winner of the TOPPS Scout of the Month Award and recipient of the TOPPS All-Star Scout Award in 1988 and 1995, Bennett was elected to the Middle Atlantic Major League Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame in 1996.
From his hiring in 1967 until his retirement in 2005, Sheldon "Chief" Bender's lifetime of accumulated baseball knowledge impacted virtually every aspect of the Reds player development and personnel departments. Serving in a number of positions over the course of his nearly 40 years with the club, Bender spent the bulk of his tenure overseeing Reds minor league operations. Under his watch, the Reds farm system enjoyed the most fruitful period in club history, producing Reds Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey, Sr. Don Gullett, Mario Soto, Tom Browning, Eric Davis and Barry Larkin. The talent that emerged from the farm system under Bender's direction was critical to the Reds championship seasons of 1975, 1976 and 1990. The Reds annual Minor League Player of the Year Award is named in his honor. In 1998, Bender was crowned the "King of Baseball" by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues for his long and successful career of service to the game.
One of the city's great baseball ambassadors, Chuck Harmon began his association with the Cincinnati Reds in 1952 when he was acquired by the club after five successful campaigns in the Minor Leagues. Harmon made the 1954 Reds roster as a utility player and was called on to pinch-hit on April 17 in Milwaukee. When he stepped into the batter's box, Harmon became the first African American to wear a Reds uniform in a regular season game. Harmon spent three seasons with the Reds and retired from the game in 1957.
Harmon has spent most of his post-playing career in Cincinnati and is one of the city's most recognizable and beloved figures. A fixture at Reds games for decades, he is one of the team's most steadfast and enthusiastic supporters, promoting the team and the game with uncommon dedication. A plaque in his honor was dedicated at the entrance of Great American Ball Park in 2004, one of the many tributes he has received in acknowledgment of his esteemed place in Reds history.
Chuck Harmon's tremendous courage, strength of character, professionalism and humor are readily evident to all who come into contact with him. His life has been defined by overcoming obstacles through hard work and willpower, all the while keeping constant his unbridled love for the game. The Reds organization and all of baseball have been enhanced immeasurably because of his presence.