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Concepción was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 1967. Following the steps of his childhood heroes Chico Carrasquel and Luis Aparicio , Jr., Concepción, originally drafted as a pitcher, came out of Venezuela to become one of Cincinnati baseball's more popular shortstops, making his debut on April 6, 1970. In his first three seasons, Reds manager Sparky Anderson played him part-time, sharing duties with Woody Woodward and Darrel Chaney . In 1973 Concepción blossomed, both at bat and in the field, being named the starting shortstop. On May 9, in a Reds 9-7 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies , Johnny Bench hit three home runs and drove in seven runs against pitcher Steve Carlton . It was the second time that Bench smashed three homers against Carlton in a game. However, a Concepción two-run tie-breaker homer in the ninth, off Barry Lersch , was the game-winner. Concepción had been named to the NL All-Star team, but on July 22, two days before the game he broke his ankle (sliding into 3rd base after moving from first base with Dennis Menke base hit against the Expos in the bottom of the 7th inning at Riverfront, fracturing the fibula of left leg) and missed the second half of the year. At this time he was batting .287, with 8 HRs, 46 RBI , 39 runs , 18 doubles , three triples and 22 stolen bases . Concepción returned in 1974 and played 160 games. He enjoyed his best overall season, batting .281, with 14 HR, 82 RBI, as well as winning his first Gold Glove Award . By 1975 Concepción joined Pete Rose , Johnny Bench , Joe Morgan , Tony Perez , Ken Griffey, Sr. , George Foster and César Gerónimo in the famous "Great Eight" starting lineup of The Big Red Machine that would help the Reds win the next two World Series titles. Even after Concepción had established himself in the major leagues as a star shortstop, he continued to play winter ball in Venezuela, helping to improve his batting. On July 13, 1982, the first All-Star Game outside of the United States was held at Montreal 's Olympic Stadium . Concepción hit a two-run homer to help the National League to a 4-1 win (the NL's 11th straight victory and 19th...
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