Washington Nationals @ Cincinnati Reds
2015 Regular Season. A spring visit to Great American Ball Park. I was on a road trip from Chicago, Illinois to Raleigh, North Carolina and stopped in town to catch the Cincinnati Reds hosting the Washington Nationals in a Sunday afternoon game. This is the seventh home field for Cincinnati Reds since their inception. There’s more baseball history here than in the urban legend of Cooperstown, New York and Abner Doubleday. Harry Wright Managed the first professional baseball team here in 1869. It used to be that the official first game of the season was always in the Cincinnati home field. In fact, Opening Day is practically a holiday in the Queen City.
Besides Tiger Stadium in Detroit, the Old Crosley Field is a park that, if it were possible, I would go back in time to visit. Growing up in Cincinnati, Pete Rose would go to games in Crosley Field with his dad. Its where he debuted in 1963. That was also where the first MLB night game was played in 1935.
I did get to see Riverfront Stadium in 1998. It was actually called Cinergy Field at the time. That was the site of more great baseball, when the “Big Red Machine” was dominant in the 1970’s. One of my early memories of baseball was watching that team on NBC Game of the Week with Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek.
Great American Ball Park opened in 2003. A subliminal sign of Pete Rose, the banned “Hit King,” was created by the Architect beyond centerfield. An arrangement or placement of seven bats at the top of each of the two smoke stacks together add up to 14, the number of Pete Rose during his baseball career. In June of 2016, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and, in the following season, his statute was unveiled along the other legends featuring him posed in his trademark head first slide into the base.
It was an odd entry into baseball the record book. Cincinnati first basemen Joey Votto walked on three balls in the seventh inning and nobody noticed, not the umpires, not the score keeper, not the broadcasters, or even the coaches. Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier went 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 2 runs batted in. When it comes to a baseball pilgrimage, this layover was well worth it.