Cesar Geronimo was one of the key components of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine during the 1970s.
Inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2008, Geronimo is a member of the Great Eight starting lineup for Cincinnati’s world championship teams in 1975 and 1976.
However, Geronimo earned a dubious distinction 35 years ago this week.
At Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Geronimo became the 3,000th strikeout victim for Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros on July 4, 1980.
The all-time strikeout leader in major league history with 5,714, Ryan became the fourth member of the 3,000 strikeout club.
Unfortunately for Geronimo, it was the second time in his career that a pitcher joined that exclusive group by fanning him.
Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out Geronimo for his 3,000th on July 17, 1974. Gibson finished his career a year later with 3,117 strikeouts and was the first in the National League to accomplish that feat.
There are currently 16 pitchers in the 3,000 strikeout club with Geronimo being the only batter to be a victim twice.
Originally signed as a pitcher by the New York Yankees in 1967, Geronimo was converted to an outfielder and eventually made the big leagues in 1969 with the Houston Astros.
Prior to the 1972 season, Cincinnati acquired Geronimo from the Astros in a critical eight-player trade that changed the course of the Reds during that decade.
Along with Geronimo, the Reds got National Baseball Hall of Fame member and two-time NL Most Valuable Player Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham, Denis Menke and Ed Armbrister in a swap for all-stars Lee May and Tommy Helms. Jimmy Stewart was also sent to the Astros.
During his stay in Cincinnati, Geronimo won four straight Gold Gloves from 1973-1977.
In 1975, Geronimo hit a pair of homers in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox and he caught the final out as the Reds claimed the title.
Geronimo’s best season was in 1976 when he batted .307 with 22 stolen bases. In the World Series against the Yankees that year, Geronimo batted .308 with a pair of doubles and two stolen bases.
A native of the Dominican Republic, he ended his 15-year career with the Kansas City Royals in 1981-1983.