Arroyo inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame, along with Graves, Paul

July 16th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- With his famous high kick, shaggy blond hair and rockstar swagger, became one of the most recognizable figures in Cincinnati and the baseball world.

So it’s fitting that he was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame on Saturday alongside closer and former executive Gabe Paul. Seventeen Reds Hall of Famers, including three National Baseball Hall of Famers, were on hand to welcome three new members to their ranks.

“This is the stuff legends are made of. When you're a kid, you have posters of these guys on your walls,” Arroyo said. “I was once in the boys club inside the locker room, but now, I'm in the old boys club.”

Arroyo played a key part in bringing postseason baseball back to Cincinnati in 2010, 2012 and 2013. In 2010, Arroyo’s 17-win, 3.88 ERA season led a Reds rotation which featured 24-year-olds Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey and a rookie Mike Leake. 

In 2012, those four, along with Mat Latos, anchored baseball’s best rotation for the entire season. All five made at least 30 starts, and only one game -- the second game of a doubleheader -- was started by someone else.

That season’s National League Division Series stands out in Arroyo’s mind as one of the most iconic moments of his career. Arroyo pitched 4 2/3 perfect innings and finished his night with seven one-hit, zero-run innings as the Reds took a 2-0 lead against the Giants in a series Cincinnati ended up losing in five games. He outpitched one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time in Madison Bumgarner, who allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings.

“That's everything that you want to come to fruition when you get prepared in Spring Training,” Arroyo said. “It's going out on the mound in a playoff game, commanding the game, dominating and feeling good with crisp stuff.”

Following eight years with the Reds, Arroyo signed a free agent deal with Arizona in 2014. But after just one season, his career took a turn. He dealt with injuries and was sidelined for nearly all of the next two seasons, bouncing between the D-backs, Braves, Dodgers and Nationals systems. His only playing time in that span was a two-game stint in 2016 with the Nationals’ rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate.

But when he was healthy enough to play, Arroyo came back to the place that had become home to him. His 2017 farewell included 14 starts and a heartfelt ceremony when he officially retired in September. After that Sept. 23 game against Boston, the Reds gifted Arroyo, among other things, a custom guitar with a wishbone "C" surrounding the sound hole and a case with his No. 61 and iconic leg kick painted on the side.

“I had no idea when I came to Cincinnati that I'd have the opportunity to play here long enough to even amass any kinds of numbers to get into anybody's Hall of Fame,” Arroyo said. “So to be in this one, it makes me feel good. It feels like my home. I live here, I married somebody from this town, thanks for having me.”

Graves, who is the only Vietnamese-born player to appear in the Majors, joined Cincinnati in 1997 after debuting with Cleveland the prior year. Though the Reds never made the postseason in his nine years with the team, Graves is one of the greatest closers in franchise history.

Graves is the Reds’ all-time leader in saves (182) and games finished (337), and he was a two-time All-Star (2000, 2004). His 465 appearances in a Reds uniform are the fifth-most in franchise history, and he even had a brief stint as a starter in 2003, starting 26 games and throwing a complete-game shutout on May 14 against the Cardinals.

“The way that my parents brought me up was to have the feeling of a humble confidence,” Graves said. “The mentality that I had was I was better than that guy. I don't care who it was, I was better. And if you got me this time, I'm gonna get you next time.”

Reds manager David Bell was a Major Leaguer from 1995-2006 and faced both Graves and Arroyo in his career. Bell was 4-for-9 with a home run against Graves, but struck out twice in three hitless at-bats against Arroyo.

“I didn't like facing Bronson. Not at all,” Bell laughed. “Just kept chasing the slider. I kept thinking he was going to throw the fastball. They were both really good.”

Paul spent 14 years in various capacities with the Reds and was the general manager from 1951-1960. He died in 1998. Paul was instrumental in integrating and diversifying the Reds’ roster. He acquired Chuck Harmon and Nino Escalera, who broke the Reds’ color barrier in 1954, and he established a pipeline for Latino players through the Triple-A Havana Sugar Kings. Paul also helped found the Reds Hall of Fame.

“He was a minority himself ... he was Jewish. So he was a very big proponent for the underdog because he was an underdog himself,” his daughter Jennie Paul said. “He went into the Latin leagues and the Negro Leagues, and he signed as many minority players as he could, which strengthened the Reds. And you have a team in Cincinnati because of Gabe Paul, so I'm so proud to represent him.”

Though they’ve been removed from the team in an official capacity for years, Arroyo, Graves and Jennie Paul have followed the team throughout the seasons. All three noted the excitement the young players have brought to the team and the city of Cincinnati.

“The '99 team, our closest to getting to the playoffs, was an exciting time,” Graves said. “That whole year, we just had a great group of guys. It's almost like the team out here, the excitement that they bring, except we had a lot of older guys. This is a young team full of energy, full of excitement.”