Dave Bristol never made it to the major leagues as a player. But the Andrews, N.C., native sure knew what to do with big league talent.
Bristol managed the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants during a Major League Baseball career that also included stints with four different teams as third-base coach.
In all, Bristol spent 23 years in the major leagues and was best known as one of the architects of what became known as Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine.”
In recognition of that service, Bristol will be inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in ceremonies July 21-22. Also being inducted are pitcher Fred Norman and outfielder Adam Dunn.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Bristol told the Andrews Journal earlier this year. “It’s like getting money from home without writing.
“There’s no question how special it is. I spent over 25 years within the Reds organization, so I’m happy to be recognized.”
The 85-year-old Bristol started his career in the Reds’ farm system in 1957 as a 24-year-old player-manager with the Hornell Redlegs of the Class D New York-Penn League. Nine years later he had moved to the Reds coaching staff and became the manager in July, 1966. He was just 33 years old, the youngest manager in the majors.
During his years in the minors, Bristol was instrumental in the development of players like Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tommy Helms, Lee May and Tony Perez. Those players were the backbone of Cincinnati’s multiple World Series championships.
“Dave is now being recognized for his building of the Big Red Machine,” Johnny Bench said in the press release announcing Bristol’s induction. “He developed the likes of Rose, Helms, Perez and many more and instilled in his players a drive to excel.
“A tough competitor and a love for baseball that was off the charts, he lived and breathed the game.”
Helms had similar sentiments. “I wish every young baseball player had a chance to play for Bristol,” he said. “He did everything he could to make you a better player and a better person. I was blessed to play for him.”
Although the Reds had a winning record of 298-265 under Bristol, he was fired after the 1969 season. His next managerial job was with the Brewers, then the Braves and the Giants. Bristol also coached third base for the Montreal Expos, Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and the Reds.
In recognition of his induction, Bristol has been named the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame’s member of the month. He became a member of the NCSHOF in 2006 and is one of 35 baseball players in the Hall. For more information on Bristol, click here. https://www.ncshof.org/davebristol