Led by new manager Lou Piniella, the Reds achieved the rare feat of being in first place everyday of the season ("wire-to-wire"). Starting pitcher Jack Armstrong was a catalyst for the team's fast start, as he won 8 of his first 9 games and was 11-3 through the All Star break. Because of his strong first half, Armstrong was selected as the starting pitcher for the All Star Game.
Another new face in the Reds locker room was Randy Myers. He was acquired from the New York Mets for closer John Franco, and became part of the Nasty Boys, along with Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton. Charlton, Dibble, and Myers combined for 44 saves (Myers with 31, Dibble with 11, and Charlton with 2). Myers would become one of the league's elite closers while being selected as an All-Star in 1990. Myers would win his second World Championship as the Reds swept the Oakland Athletics.
"The Nasty Boys — The Reds' three flame-throwing relievers, Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton, emerged as arguably the deepest and most talented late-inning pitchers in postseason history." — John Erardi and John Fay, The Cincinnati Enquirer
August 30, 1990: Bill Doran was traded by the Houston Astros to the Cincinnati Reds for players to be named later.
September 7, 1990: Butch Henry was sent by the Cincinnati Reds to the Houston Astros to complete an earlier deal made on August 30, 1990. Catcher Terry McGriff was also sent by the Cincinnati Reds to complete the deal.
Before the Series, while Peter Gammons of ESPN had predicted an Oakland sweep, Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko issued the stunning prediction that the heavily favored A's were "doomed", based on the Ex-Cubs Factor. When the prediction came true, it fueled new interest in that arguably spurious correlation.
Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, who was drunk at the time, made a major verbal slip-up when she dedicated the 1990 World Series to "our women and men in the Far East" (Schott meant to say Middle East). In the first inning of Game 1, Reds center fielder Eric Davis hit a home run in left center that nearly hit the CBS television studio where anchor Pat O'Brien was sitting.
Also in Game 1, Billy Hatcher helped out offensively in a big way by starting his streak of 7 straight hits in the series (after a walk in the 1st). José Rijo settled in after the early lead and cruised to a surprise Cincinnati victory. The following day, the headline of the Cincinnati Post newspaper captured the city's surprise with the headline, "DAVIS STUNS GOLIATH."
During Game 2, Reds pitcher Tom Browning's pregnant wife Debbie went into labor during the game. Debbie left her seat in the fifth inning to drive herself to the hospital. As the game went on, the Reds wanted Browning ready to pitch just in case the game went well into extra innings. Thinking that Browning was en route to a nearby hospital, the Reds had their radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman put out an All Points Bulletin on Browning, a bulletin that was picked up by Tim McCarver on CBS television, who passed it along in the ninth inning.
Game 4 was a pitchers duel between Dave Stewart and José Rijo (the Game 1 starters) that eventually culminated in the Reds sweeping the series. The A's got on the board in the first when Willie McGee doubled and Carney Lansford singled him in. The game remained 1-0 until the 8th when the Reds finally got to Stewart.
Barry Larkin singled up the middle, Herm Winningham followed with a bunt single, and Paul O'Neill reached on a throwing error by Stewart that loaded the bases. Glen Braggs's groundout and Hal Morris's sacrifice fly gave the Reds a precious 2-1 edge which was preserved by both Rijo, who at one point retired 20 straight batters. Randy Myers, one of the Nasty Boys, appeared in relief and got the final two outs.
The 1990 World Series would be the Reds 5th championship but would also be remembered as one of the biggest upsets in baseball history. This was the last World Series to be scheduled to begin play on a Tuesday, and the only since 1984. The schedule called for the seven-game series to be held Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat-Sun, Tue-Wed. Games 5, 6, and 7, however were not necessary.
The three primary members of the bullpen; Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, and Rob Dibble (who threw a fastball in excess of 99 mph) were known as the "Nasty Boys" – and wouldn't let the A's score against them in nearly nine innings of work. Media talk of a forthcoming A's dynasty led Reds fans to call their own team the "dyNASTY."
Reds outfielder Billy Hatcher set a World Series record with seven consecutive hits. In addition, Hatcher's .750 batting average, (9 for 12), broke a mark for a four-game World Series that was previously set by Babe Ruth (.625 in 1928).