Vada Edward Pinson, Jr. (August 11, 1938 – October 21, 1995) was an American professional baseball player and coach. He played as a center fielder in Major League Baseball for 18 years, from 1958 through 1975, most notably for the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he played from 1958 to 1968. Pinson, who batted and threw left-handed, was primarily a center fielder who combined power, speed, and strong defensive ability.
Pinson was born in Memphis, Tennessee and his family moved to California when he was a child. He was a graduate of Oakland’s McClymonds High School, attended by Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson (a Pinson teammate in the major leagues for nine years), star centerfielder Curt Flood and Basketball Hall of Fame center Bill Russell. He appeared in 2,469 games for the Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, California Angels, and Kansas City Royals, notching 2,757 hits and finishing with a career batting average of .286, with 256 home runs and 305 stolen bases.
After just two minor league seasons and still only 19 years old, he earned a spot on the Reds’ 25-man roster out of spring training, making his major league debut on April 15, 1958 against the Philadelphia Phillies at home in Crosley Field. Batting second and starting in centerfield, Pinson had one hit in five at-bats, his first hit a single off future Baseball Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts. Three days later, in the Reds’ next game, he hit his first home run, a grand slam off Pittsburgh Pirates’ starter Ron Kline at Forbes Field.
With the Reds, Pinson twice led the National League in hits (1961, 1963), doubles (1959, 1960), and triples (1963, 1967). He batted .343 in 1961, when the Reds won the NL pennant, but mustered only a .091 (2 for 22) average in the 1961 World Series, which Cincinnati lost to the New York Yankees in five games.