Like Mickey Mantle, Pinson was one of those rare talents who combined speed with power. Like Mantle, too, Pinson, one of the most graceful runners ever to put on a baseball uniform, gave the appearance of gliding across the ground, his feet barely touching the surface
- Sportswriter Earl Lawson
On May 22, 1968 at Crosley Field, Vada Pinson laced a ninth inning double off Houston Astros reliever Dave Giusti to move past Edd Roush into first place on the Reds all-time career hit list. While Pinson only held the club record for four seasons (Pete Rose claimed the record on September 1, 1972), the achievement is testament to the remarkable career Pinson enjoyed as a Red.
Possessing an impressive combination of power and speed, Pinson burst onto the scene in 1958 by belting a grand slam in only his second Major League game. A National League All-Star in first two full seasons (1959 and 1960), Pinson also led the league in doubles in each of those years and would rank among the league's top ten in this category in eight of his ten full seasons in Cincinnati. He also twice led the league in hits, at-bats and triples and, in 1959, led the league in runs scored. A brilliant defender, Pinson's talents in centerfield were acknowledged with a Gold Glove Award in 1961.
Along with Frank Robinson, Pinson helped anchor one of the strongest outfields in the National League, a group that helped propel the Reds to the league pennant in 1961 nad near-pennants in 1962, 1964 and 1965. When the Reds traded Pinson to the St. Louis Cardinals following the 1968 season, he left as the club's leader not only in hits but games played, at-bats, and doubles as well. In exchange for Pinson, the Reds received outfielder Bobby Tolan and relief pitcher Wayne Granger, players that would help the Reds to league titles in 1970 and 1972.
Pinson retired following the 1975 season, finishing his career with 2,757 hits, 256 home runs, 305 stolen bases and a lifetime batting average of .286; career numbers that many think merit Pinson inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1977, Pinson died in 1995 after suffering a stroke. He was 57 years old.