José Rijo was born in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and he made his major league debut with the New York Yankees in 1984. He provided a glimpse of the dominant pitcher he was to become when he struck out 16 batters in a game while pitching for Oakland in 1986.
He came to the Reds via a trade with the A's prior to the 1988 season, and he made an immediate impact by winning 13 games and leading the team with a 2.39 ERA in 1988. With the help of Rijo's arm, the Reds won the 1990 NL Western Division, and he notched a win and a no-decision in two starts in the NLCS against the Pirates. Rijo held center stage in the 1990 World Series by throwing seven innings of shutout baseball to get the win in Game One, and allowing only two first-inning hits over 8⅓ innings en route to a Game Four win that completed the Reds' stunning sweep. In his two World Series games, Rijo posted a 0.59 ERA.
In 1993, Rijo threw a one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies, and he led the league with 227 strikeouts. In 1995, his career was career was interrupted by elbow problems, but he mounted an improbable comeback. After missing more than five full seasons because of injury, Rijo made a triumphant and inspiring return to the Reds in 2001. He pitched again for Cincinnati in 2002, including receiving the honor of starting the last game played at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field September 22. The historic stadium's final season proved to be Rijo's last as well.
José Rijo was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame with fellow 1990 star Eric Davis in 2005.