Concepcion fourth Big Red Machine member to have jersey retired

CINCINNATI -- Shortstop Dave Concepcion had his No. 13
retired Saturday by the Cincinnati Reds, joining three Hall of Fame
teammates and his Big Red Machine manager in the franchise's
ultimate tribute.

Concepcion was honored on the field and his number was unveiled
on an upper-deck facade -- appropriately, toward the left side of
the infield -- before a game against the Florida Marlins.

Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez were on
the field for the tribute, along with manager Sparky Anderson.
Their numbers already had been retired by the ballclub.

Former teammates Ken Griffey Sr. and George Foster also were
part of the ceremony.

The crowd chanted, "Davey! Davey!" as the 59-year-old
Concepcion walked to a microphone on the field, prompting him to
turn away and dab his eyes with a towel. He sniffled and repeatedly
stopped in mid-sentence -- choked with emotion -- as he thanked his
family and former teammates.

"Coming to the microphone -- this is the hardest part of
baseball for me," he said.

He got a standing ovation after telling the crowd: "I love
Cincinnati. I love you all." Concepcion, who once pitched in
relief against the Dodgers, then went in front of the mound and
made a ceremonial toss to Bench.

The ball made it there on the fly, unlike the skip throw to
first base that he perfected on Riverfront Stadium's artificial
turf during his 19-year career with the Reds.

Although No. 13 is considered unlucky by most athletes, the
Venezuelan chose it to honor his mother, Ernestina, who was born in
1913. He won five Gold Gloves, was a nine-time All-Star, was chosen
MVP of the 1982 All-Star Game and was honored as team captain in

Concepcion's number was the eighth retired by the Reds, joining
those of manager Fred Hutchinson (1), Bench (5), Morgan (8),
Anderson (10), Ted Kluszewski (18), Frank Robinson (20) and Perez
(24). Jackie Robinson's No. 42 has been retired by Major League

One of the hallmarks of the Big Red Machine was the constant
clubhouse teasing. Concepcion was reminded at a luncheon and news
conference Saturday how much his teammates loved to have fun at his

"You guys got on me for 19 years when I was playing, and I've
been retired for 19 years and you're still getting on me," he told
his former teammates at a group news conference.

Morgan, the other half of the Big Red Machine's double-play
combination, was delighted to see Concepcion get his due.

"Unfortunately, I think we've overshadowed his
accomplishments," Morgan said. "Sparky and Johnny and myself,
we're in the Hall of Fame, and I think we tend to overlook what he
did on a daily basis. Guys like Davey and Foster and [Lee] May and
Griffey don't get their just due."