"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 5th is Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds

Being part of the old school for baseball before Commission Bud Selig messed up baseball tradition, I still think the Cincinnati Reds should be the first game of the season not some games in Japan or a night game the day before.  Now Selig has shown even more his bias by moving the long time National League Houston Astros to the American League so that his daughter's team, the Milwaukee Brewers, who he originally moved from the American League to the National League can stay in the National League.  Talk about nepotism -- that is Bud Selig.  Will be celebrating with a lot of other baseball fans the day he retires which cannot come soon enough.

On a more positive note, found this article from the Cincinnati Enquirer refreshing as it reminds us of the long, storied history of the Cincinnati Reds.  Grew up a Reds fan and can still remember the first time that Dad and Mom took me to a game at the old Crosley Field -- felt I was living a dream because they used to go down several times a year with friends but I was finally old enough to attend.  On the band bus in high school on the way to events in the early fall, we would be singing "Rally Round the Reds"  Our family went to a game at Riverfront the first week it was open and for concessions we had sandwiches in baggies as the concession stands were not in full operation.

When I was dating my future husband, we attended a playoff game against Philadelphia in 1976 for the right to go the World Series.  Sitting in the yellow seats when a Red's home run landed near us and got a full cup of beer down my back -- it was worth it -- Reds swept the series.  We had tickets for the World Series with the Yankees but the Reds won it in four.  Only turned back in one of the tickets for a refund as I wanted to keep the other one.   The Big Red Machine was the  best in baseball and their legend lives on today.  The best catcher ever played for that Red's 1976 team -- Johnny Bench.  He started out as Red having been drafted from Binger, OK, and stayed a Red his whole career:

The 1976 World Series matched the defending champion Cincinnati Reds of the National League against the New York Yankees of the American League, with the Reds sweeping the Series to repeat. The Reds became (and remain) the only team to sweep an entire multi-tier postseason. The Reds are also the last National League team to win back to back World Series. It also marked the second time that the Yankees were swept in a World Series (the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers were the first).
Now another opening day is upon us and the Enquirer is listing the greatest games of Opening Day to get us in the mood tomorrow to hear the umpires say "Play Ball:"  This has the makings of another great season for the Reds.  We may not live in Ohio, but my son and I will be rooting for the Reds all the way hoping for another chance at a World Series victory for the Reds.

Greatest games of Opening Day

12:20 PM, Apr. 4, 2012  

Ramon Hernandez was last year's Opening Day hero after he hit a walk-off three-run home run in the ninth inning to rally the Reds over the Brewers 7-6.
Ramon Hernandez was last year's Opening Day hero after he hit a walk-off three-run home run in the ninth inning to rally the Reds over the Brewers 7-6. / The Enquirer/Cara Owsley
Opening Day in Cincinnati is a tradition unlike any other, from its Findlay Market Parade to its weather extremes to its many baseball feats.

Reds fans have seen the epic (Hank Aaron's 714th home run), the dramatic (Joe Randa's walk-off homer), the tragic (umpire John McSherry's death) and the comic (Mayor Mark Mallory's errant first pitch).

Among memorable Opening Day moments in Cincinnati:

1894 – Reds outfielder Bug Holliday hit a grand slam in the sixth inning, breaking a 6-all tie and leading Cincinnati to a 10-6 win over Chicago. A crowd of 6,285 watched as a new grandstand was opened at the Reds' League Park.

1904 – Reds manager and first baseman Joe Kelley scored the winning run from second base in the bottom of the ninth inning as Cincinnati won 3-2. Tommy Corcoran smashed a hard grounder toward Chicago shortstop Joe Tinker, but the ball struck Tinker's foot and bounded out beyond second base. Second baseman Johnny Evers picked up the ball and threw home, as Kelley ran through a coach's stop sign at third base. Kelley slid home safely when Evers' throw sailed high and wide. The crowd at the Palace of the Fans was estimated at 13,000, and newspaper accounts said thousands swarmed onto the field to celebrate.

1912 – In the first game at Redland/Crosley Field, the Reds rallied to beat Chicago 10-6. Newspapers hailed the "record-breaking crowd" of 26,336, which watched from "the finest grand stand in the country." Reds outfielder Bob Bescher had a two-run triple and scored three times.

1924 – Bubbles Hargrave had four hits and Cincinnati rallied to beat Pittsburgh 6-5 before the largest Opening Day crowd (35,747) in Redland/Crosley Field history. Newspaper coverage included extensive reporting about the pregame festivities: "The annual parade of members of the Findlay Market Association was an affair that eclipsed all former parades in numbers and originality."

1934 – Cubs pitcher Lon Warneke's no-hit bid was broken up with one out in the ninth inning, when Reds outfielder Adam Comorosky singled to center field. Even the Cincinnati fans were cheering for Warneke, who retired the next two hitters to win 6-0.

1943 – It was the greatest pitchers' duel in a Reds opener. Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer and St. Louis' Mort Cooper battled for 11 innings before outfielder Max Marshall drove home the game-winner for a 1-0 Reds victory over the reigning World Series champions. It was a cool (42 degrees) damp day, and 27,709 fans braved the elements.

1945 – Outfielder Dain Clay set a Reds Opening Day record with five RBI, including the game-winner in the 11th inning of a 7-6 win over Pittsburgh. Clay also hit a grand slam, which would be his only home run all season. Flags over the ballpark stood at half-staff in tribute to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died five days before the Reds opener.

1954 – Reds outfielder Jim Greengrass tied the record for most doubles in one game with four, and the Reds and Milwaukee tied the mark for most doubles in one game with 13. News accounts said the doubles all fell into the temporary outfield seats, and that many of the balls would have been caught on a normal day. The Reds won 9-8 in a game that saw Braves outfielder Hank Aaron make his major-league debut, going 0-for-5.

1963 – The Reds beat Pittsburgh 5-2 as Jim O'Toole threw a six-hitter, Frank Robinson hit a two-run homer and local kid Pete Rose made his major-league debut, at second base. Rose walked in his first at-bat, against Earl Francis, and scored the first run of the season on Robinson's homer. Rose, batting second in the order, went 0-for-3 overall.

1970 – Sparky Anderson made debuted as Reds manager and Cincinnati beat Montreal 5-1 in the final opener at Crosley Field. Lee May, Bernie Carbo and Bobby Tolan homered and Jim Merritt pitched a three-hitter. A capacity crowd of 30,124 sat through intermittent rain on a chilly day as the Big Red Machine began its '70s dominance.

1974 – Atlanta's Aaron hit his 714th career home run, tying Babe Ruth atop the all-time list. Aaron's homer came off Jack Billingham in the first inning, and the game was stopped for seven minutes for on-field ceremonies. The crowd included Vice President Gerald Ford, who threw out the first pitch. The Reds rallied to win 7-6 in 11 innings in what also was Marty Brennaman's first radio broadcast as the Reds' play-by-play announcer.

1975 – The Reds beat their archrivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1 in 14 innings in the longest Opening Day game in Cincinnati. The Reds won on a controversial play when George Foster was judged safe at first base on an infield hit, which allowed the winning run to score. Cincinnati went on to win its first World Series title since 1940.

1977 – Four inches of snow blanketed the ground on Opening Day, but an expanded grounds crew had the Riverfront Stadium turf cleared by the game's first pitch. Attendance was listed at 51,917 but an estimated 4,500 stayed home with game-time temperature at 38 degrees. The Reds beat San Diego 5-3 as Cesar Geronimo hit a two-run homer and Woodie Fryman – newly acquired from Montreal in the Tony Perez deal – got the win.

1985 – The Reds beat Montreal 4-1 behind Rose in his first Opening Day since rejoining Cincinnati as player-manager in August 1984. Rose had two hits and three RBI, but many in the house of 52,971 recall the game as much for the wild weather. The game-time temperature was 39 degrees, and the day included sunshine, snow, hail, wind gusts and rain. There were two snow delays.

1994 – Cincinnati opened with a 6-4 loss to St. Louis at Riverfront Stadium, but Reds owner Marge Schott refused to consider it the traditional opener because the game was on Easter Sunday evening (televised by ESPN). Schott held back the bunting, pregame ceremonies and parade until the following day, a Monday afternoon game the Reds won 5-4.

1996 – Opening Day turned tragic when umpire John McSherry collapsed and died of a heart attack behind home plate, just seven pitches into the game. Despite the efforts of trainers and physicians, McSherry could not be revived. The game was postponed until the following day, when the Reds defeated Montreal 4-1.

1998 – The Reds lost the opener to San Diego 10-2, capping a weird couple of days. The day before the game, scheduled starting pitcher Dave Burba was traded to Cleveland for Sean Casey. In the game itself, shortstop Pokey Reese – subbing for injured Barry Larkin – tied a modern Opening Day record with four errors. Enquirer headline: "How many E's In Pokey Reese? Well, 4"

2002 – The Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in their last opener at Cinergy/Riverfront. With one out in the ninth, Larkin raced home from third base on a short fly to right field and scored the winning run when the throw from Sammy Sosa bounced away from the catcher.

2003 – The first game in Great American Ball Park saw the Reds were pounded 10-1 by Pittsburgh. Former President George Bush (No.41) threw out the first ball in subbing for his son, who remained in Washington directing the newly begun Iraq war. (Trivia corner: Amaze your friends by naming the Reds' starter that day: Jimmy Haynes).

2005 – New Reds third baseman Joe Randa's walk-off, solo home run off Braden Looper gave Cincinnati a 7-6 victory over the New York Mets. "Hey Joe Randa! You're the Mayor! Forget Sean Casey!" Reds manager Dave Miley yelled afterward as Randa walked by the his office. It was the first time a Reds player hit a walk-off homer on Opening Day.

2006 – President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch, and Reds outfielder Adam Dunn had trouble catching the ball in a 16-7 loss to the Cubs. On a windy day, Dunn made one error and misplayed two other flyballs in left field. Reds outfielder Austin Kearns said the wind was brutal: "The worst I've ever seen here."

2007 – Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory threw out the first ball but badly missed his intended target. The ball sailed well wide to the left of home plate. The throw received national media attention, including appearances by Mallory on "Good Morning America" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." The Reds beat the Cubs 5-1 in the game, behind starter Aaron Harang. Perhaps Mallory should make a good-luck return to the mound, as Cincinnati since has gone 0-3 on Opening Day.

2011 - Ramon Hernandez is the Opening Day hero after he hits a walk-off three-run home run off closer John Axford in the ninth inning to rally the Reds over the Brewers 7-6. "I've played 12 years, and this is the most amazing opening day," said Hernandez, who ended it with his fourth hit. "To get that type of win is great, and to do it on a day like today gets people even more excited. It's amazing."
Sources: Enquirer research; "Opening Day," by John Erardi and Greg Rhodes.
The Cincinnati Reds christened their second ballpark on the riverfront on March 31, 2003. Great American Ball Park is a combination of new and old ballparks and provides an excellent setting for baseball.  
Walking along the outside perimeter of the ballpark down Second Street, fans are greeted by a three story building of brick and cast limestone, with the phrase “Rounding third and heading for home,” the signature sign-off of broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, atop the building. Banners of great moments in Reds' history also line this area.  
At the intersection of Second and Main streets is an opening to Crosley Terrace, a point most fans pass through before entering the ballpark. The terrace is about an acre of concrete, landscaped with grass and trees. Statues of Crosley Field-era players (Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski and Frank Robinson) dot the landscape, along with a pitcher's mound built to Major League Baseball dimensions of the day. Grass in the terrace is sloped at the same incline as Crosley Field's outfield. Special lighting illuminates the statues, stone benches and a 60-foot stone sculpture meant to depict the romance of the game are also in the Crosley Terrace.  
Located adjacent and connecting to Great American Ball Park along Main Street is the Reds Hall of Fame Museum and team store.  
A rose garden, remembering Pete Rose, is located near the museum where his record breaking hit 4,192 was at Riverfront Stadium.
Kick back and enjoy the opening of the 2012 baseball season tomorrow when the Cincinnati Reds officially take the field to open the season at the Great American Ballpark for the first time in 2012.  More than ready for another Big Red Machine which was composed of eight of the best players in baseball in 1975/1976:
"Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Ken Griffey, Cesar Geronimo," recites former Reds manager Sparky Anderson.
"The Big Red Machine teams will never be forgotten," declares Bench. "I don't want them to be forgotten. They'll be remembered because of the professionals they had, the character they had, the skill they had. Those teams were a symbol of what baseball really should be."
Good Luck Reds on the 2012 season!

1 comment:

SJ Reidhead said...

Are you deliberately trying to make me cry! Our Big Red Machine was something else. There will never be another team like it.

The Pink Flamingo