Reed bounced between the majors and minors for four seasons before a July 1988 trade sent him to the Reds, and an injury to Bo Diaz made him a starter in 1989. It proved to be the first of only three 100-game seasons in Reed’s seventeen-year major-league career. He never hit well enough to hold down a starting job (although he socked seventeen homers for the Rockies in 1997) but his left-handed stance, rare for a catcher, made him a valuable platoon mate and pinch-hitter.
Normally excellent defensively (Reed led his league’s catchers in assists five times in the minors), he tied a 68-year-old record for catchers with three errors in the seventh inning of a game on July 28, 1987.
Reed, a White Sox fan in his youth, turned down offers from the Braves and Astros to sign with the Cubs after he was released by Colorado in July 1999. “Harry [Caray] used to say, `Here’s the Joliet kid. This guy just kills us,’ ” Reed told reporters after inking the deal. “Steve [Stone] would look up the stats and say, `Harry, Jeff Reed is a .220 lifetime hitter against the Cubs.’ And Harry would say, `I don’t care what the numbers are, this guy kills us.’ “