Dave Revering was a solid prospect on the Cincinnati Reds in the mid 1970’s, which was not a great time for a Reds prospect who wanted to make a big league club, especially a first baseman.
They had a Hall of Famer at first in Tony Perez and a damn good player in Dan Driessen waiting to take his place.
As this card shows, he would eventually find his way to Oakland.
The path from the Cincinnati farm to the Oakland starting lineup saw him be a strange pawn in a power struggle between two of the most influential figures in baseball in the 1970’s and a trade that could have changed the course of baseball in 1978.
The Reds were defending their NL Pennant in 1971 when they drafted Revering out of his California high school. The left handed hitting first baseman shot up through the Reds farm system and by 1974, the 21 year old was a 20 home run hitting threat at AAA.
But the Perez and Dreissen block in Cincinnati kept him from getting a call up. He stayed in AAA for 1975 and 1976. Who knows? Maybe he could have been a left handed pinch hitter in the World Series those years and picked up a World Series ring for his troubles.
Instead he remained buried in the minors. By 1977, it was getting ridiculous. He hit 29 homers, drove in 110, batted .300 and and OPS of .952. And even with Tony Perez leaving the Reds for the Expos and Cincinnati having a disappointing season behind Los Angeles, Revering STILL couldn’t get a call up to the majors.
On another team, he would be praised as the top hitting prospect. Who knows? Maybe having him in the lineup with the likes of Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey and 1977 NL MVP George Foster, he might have put up All Star numbers himself.
Instead he sat, waiting for the call.
Then two of the major teams of the 1970 looked to solve issues. The A’s had Vida Blue, whose contract was about to run out and was furious he was stuck in the now collapsed team in Oakland.
Owner Charlie Finley tried to sell his contract to the Yankees in 1976, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Finley’s nemesis, voided the trade as a cash purchase.
Blue remained the only star on the team after Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Bert Campaneris and Ken Holtzman were either traded or tested the new free agent system.
The Reds, still smarting from the 1977 disappointment, wanted to add Vida Blue to a rotation that already had Tom Seaver. Maybe the 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, the best line up in baseball, and an improved bullpen would lead them back to the post season.
The A’s were a young team who were basically trying everything and anything and anyone in their lineup. Revering could start at first base right away.
The deal made perfect sense for both teams. On December 9, 1977, the Reds announced the deal and made their big play for the 1978 NL West title.
There was a problem however. The Reds, along with Revering, had agreed to sending $1.75 million to Oakland. Commissioner Kuhn came down on the deal. The reason he had vetoed the contract purchases of Vida Blue along with Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi a few years before was he didn’t want straight cash for stars trades. There needed to be players involved.
This trade seemed to fit the bill. Blue was dealt for Revering. In addition, some money exchanged hands. It seemed legit. It helped both teams. But the amount of money was too big.
The deal was vetoed, enraging Finley. It was outrageous that the deal was squashed.
Clearly it had nothing to do with the merits of the trade and everything to do with personal feelings between Kuhn and Finley. It would benefit the Reds to have Blue in the rotation. It would have benefited Blue to get the hell out of Oakland. It would have benefited Revering to get a starting job. It would have benefited Oakland to have a good young slugger and some money in their back pocket.
So naturally it was vetoed.
In the end, Revering landed in Oakland in a smaller trade involving relief pitcher Doug Bair and a smaller amount of cash. Blue would eventually be dealt to the San Francisco Giants.
Revering would indeed start in Oakland and hit homers in double digits and had a solid average and decent OPS between 1978 and 1980.
In 1981, he was dealt to the Yankees where he played in the postseason against Milwaukee and his former team, the A’s. (He didn’t get an at bat in the World Series but was on the team.)
The Yankees, Mariners and Blue Jays all employed Revering in 1982 and after a shot in the Tigers organization in 1983, his career was done.
For the record, Vida Blue pitched for a few more seasons after that, saw his career derail with cocaine scandals only to make a comeback with San Francisco.
What would have happened if the trade went through?
The Reds fell short again in 1978 but won the Division in 1979 and had the best record in baseball in 1981 but was not in the playoffs because of the bizarre 1981 post season First Half and Second Half set ups. Could the Reds have won another pennant or two with Vida Blue in the rotation?
We saw the results in Oakland. Revering was a solid if not spectacular first baseman. He clearly belonged in the big leagues.
The what if question for Revering was “What if the Reds traded him sooner?” What if he got a shot in the big leagues when he was tearing up AAA as a 22 year old instead of making his debut at age 25? The Reds couldn’t do any better in those years but Revering could have. Could a last place team like the 1975 Expos or a 1975 Angels team that had a revolving door at first base and DH could have used his bat?
Freed of the block in Cincinnati, could he have flourished in Quebec and Anaheim?
We don’t know. Revering was a victim of the greatness of the best team of the 1970’s and partially hampered by one of the biggest petty feuds of that era.