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Wheelhouse
06-02-2006, 02:10 AM
I grew up in the NY area and the first game I ever went to was at Shea. My father and I went alone to the game (as my little brother was too little) and I remember driving over the Whitestone Bridge and my father describing Shea Stadium as a "toilet" and then telling me about when he was a boy in Cincinnati and going to Crosley. He told me about the terrace in the OF and how a hot dog at the ballpark was better than filet mignon anywhere else. He also told me about how his uncle loved the Reds but he died the year before they got to the WS (I think '61?) and how he wished his uncle, who had taken him to games when he was a kid, had gotten to see the Reds win the pennant. Needless to say I was fired up about getting to the game. Shea was a toilet, but that served the experience--I walked through the sooty, neglected, mid 70's stadium, through the entryway to the field, and then all I can remember is seeing the blue,blue sky, the vast green field...and the Reds. I think my dad got a kick out of my reaction though I can't remember exactly what I did. The sight of the ball being thrown around, professional throws, shocked and hypnotized me. Pete Rose stuck out. He seemed to me as a boy (now get this) about a quarter-second ahead of everyone else in everything he did, from BP to the 9th inning. I cheered my heart out that day for the Reds and I think my good time was only matched by my father's. "Did you like the ballgame?" my father asked me as we walked through the parking lot after. "No," I said. "Why not?" my father asked, perplexed. "The Reds lost." My father smiled.

RANDY IN INDY
06-02-2006, 07:00 AM
Priceless. Great post Wheelhouse.

cumberlandreds
06-02-2006, 07:54 AM
Great post! Thanks for sharing your memories.

Johnny Footstool
06-02-2006, 09:20 AM
Wasn't Shea Stadium just a reflection of the larger toilet that was NYC in the 70s?

rdiersin
06-02-2006, 09:21 AM
Great story Wheelhouse! I enjoyed your fathers stories about Crosley, because they echo my dad's as well. Thanks.

Wheelhouse
06-02-2006, 09:37 AM
Wasn't Shea Stadium just a reflection of the larger toilet that was NYC in the 70s?
Yup.

vaticanplum
06-02-2006, 10:05 AM
:)

Can we tell more stories?

My mother is one of seven kids who all grew up in Cincinnati. My grampa had season tickets split with several other people through his work, so he would alternate with the seven kids throughout the season when it was his turn to go. Each of them probably went to two or three games, and it was a special thing because it was just one kid and dad which obviously doesn't happen much with seven kids in the family.

In the interest of fairness, the kids went to the games in age order; that way no one could fight over which teams they got to see or anything like that. So it came time for the opening game at Riverfront Stadium, and it happened to be my Uncle Paul's turn to go. Paul is the second youngest in the family, the youngest boy, and probably the biggest baseball fanatic. He was probably 10 or 12 when Riverfront opened. All the other kids were jealous but he promised them a full report.

When he got home, all the kids surrounded him, and he couldn't even speak. Riverfront was not the most attractive of places, but I can imagine how overwhelming it looked to a kid in the early 70s. The other kids started asking him questions, what is it like, what does it look like, how does it feel there, and he just looked at them, wide-eyed, and could only say:

"You feel like a Cheerio."


(big bowl...small person...get it? I love it.)

WebScorpion
06-02-2006, 10:30 AM
Wow! That just takes me back. Thanks Wheelhouse. My first game was the same experience, while at the same time the opposite, if that makes any sense. My grandpa took me to my first game and it was at Crosley Field around this time...May or June of 1965. I just remember it being like Christmas, My Birthday, and Coney Island all rolled into one. I remember the first glimpse of the green, green field and the ultra-blue sky...it took my breath away...and Grandpa just grinned from ear to ear watching my reaction. We sat down the first base line towards right field and I'll never forget watching Frank Robinson long tossing with Vada Pinson (I think) and thinking they were throwing the ball a mile. I just couldn't get over how far apart they were and just lazily tossing the ball back and forth. I don't remember much of the game, I'm sure I asked a million questions and probably annoyed my grandpa and this was waay before he ever attempted to teach me how to keep a scorecard, but I do remember Sammy Ellis was pitching and the Reds won. Now I've relived that moment twice with my own kids at Riverfront Stadium and Camden Yards and I know exactly why Grandpa was grinning...that first glimpse of the field is just pure magic and the first game is a complete joy no matter who wins. Thanks for bringing it back again Wheelhouse. :clap:

redsmetz
06-02-2006, 11:17 AM
My grandpa took me to my first game and it was at Crosley Field around this time...May or June of 1965. I just remember it being like Christmas, My Birthday, and Coney Island all rolled into one. I remember the first glimpse of the green, green field and the ultra-blue sky...it took my breath away...and Grandpa just grinned from ear to ear watching my reaction. We sat down the first base line towards right field and I'll never forget watching Frank Robinson long tossing with Vada Pinson (I think) and thinking they were throwing the ball a mile. I just couldn't get over how far apart they were and just lazily tossing the ball back and forth. I don't remember much of the game, I'm sure I asked a million questions and probably annoyed my grandpa and this was waay before he ever attempted to teach me how to keep a scorecard, but I do remember Sammy Ellis was pitching and the Reds won.

Assuming that it was a weekend game since you were a little tike, it was either the Saturday May 1st game against the Mets which the Reds won 9-2 or the Sunday, June 6th in which they beat the Giants, 6-0.

westofyou
06-02-2006, 11:31 AM
I never got to Crosley, having arrived in Cincinnati in the winter of 75-76 (right ahead of Bohemian Rhapsody) my first experiences involved Tiger Stadium, which was a mammoth monster in the midst of the most run down rubble I had ever seen in my short life, we always "locked" our doors once inside 8 Mile, dropping a few bucks on some older black gent in a pork pie hat we usually left our car in his front yard with a few other cars that had heard of that mans deal. The stadium had long dingy ramps that led you up and before you went to the seats you might have to visit the foulest restrooms ever conjured up in your suburban world.

But once through the portal a fine wash of sunlight lit the vast green expanse and the Tigers stood out there in their crisp, clean, classy white uniforms. The right field terrace loomed over Al Kaline as he poised himself for each pitch.

In my excitement I spilled my popcorn over the rail and onto the field, wheer it sat looking out of place in a world of perfection.

Who won? Hell if I know... but my dad yelled at a hippie and and I got an autographed team ball at the concession stand.

The experience of entering that stadium on a snowy fall afternoon for a football game was also a surreal experience.

WebScorpion
06-02-2006, 01:53 PM
Assuming that it was a weekend game since you were a little tike, it was either the Saturday May 1st game against the Mets which the Reds won 9-2 or the Sunday, June 6th in which they beat the Giants, 6-0.

Oh, definitely the Giants game. I recall Grandpa actually saying nice things about their center fielder ( ;) ) Something Grandpa did VERY rarely ... the opposing team was always the 'enemy'. :evil:

NJReds
06-02-2006, 03:00 PM
Even though I grew up in the suburbs outside of NY City, I always was a Reds fan -- the Big Red Machine. My first baseball games were Mets and Yankees games.

My first "Reds" experience was after I moved to the SF Bay Area. My stepfather got great seats at Candlestick behind home plate. There I saw the Phillies lose to the Giants 3-2. Playing for the Phillies that evening: Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez.

VR
06-02-2006, 03:23 PM
Great topic wheelhouse,

I have sour memories of my first game....The Old Metropolitan Stadium in Minn/St.Paul. 1972, Twins vs. Orioles. We lived in a small town in NW Iowa, about 3-4 hours from the Twin Cities, which was a world away with our economic circumstances. My Godmother drug my brother and I along with several of their neices and nephews for a road trip.

My mom dressed me up in my best 'public' clothes, some sharp plaid polyester slacks and a plaid shirt. The car trip alone was a big treat, probably my first memory of one, this was a big deal.

I remember feeling like I was king of the world. My dad had told us about this Harmon Killebrew guy, he was the man. Well, it just happened to be Harmon Killebrew bat day, and I now I knew I was in heaven.

I don't remember one detail about the game, but I do remember squeezing that bat all game like it was solid gold. What would my dad say?....wait til my friends see this!

As kids can do, by brother and I started horsing around at one point, and then, the world stood still. Simultaneously, we both dropped our bats. One feature of the old Met was real metal bleachers in the outfield, and they stretched to the sky. Well, we were pretty high up. We watched and listed as the bats rocketed down, boucing around like pinballs. Panic set in, it was the end of the game and people were hustling about. We raced to the bottom, only to find no remnants of the bat. "Too bad" we were told and shuffled into the car for the long trip home.


Two years ago we were cleaning out my mom's house after her death. A long, arduous task with my other siblings. She had the ability to clean house when someone was coming over by throwing everything into a bag or a box, and then into a closet.

In one of those bags was a great memory. My Godmother had given her a picture of the big day in the Twin cities. There I was in all my glory. With the field and blue sky behind me, my plaid polyester slacks and shirt actually looked good. In my grip was that Harmon Killebrew autographed bat, my knuckles white as could be. I didn't know I possessed that great of a smile. It was a lifetime of baseball and family memories bound up, and my brother were able to laugh about it, with only a little bitterness.

I'm taking my 10 yr old son to a AAA game tonight in Portland, I hope it can instill in him some memories that he'll recall later in life... without having to lose a bat. (And no, he won't be wearing plaid polyester!)

westofyou
06-02-2006, 03:34 PM
I'm taking my 10 yr old son to a AAA game tonight in Portland, I hope it can instill in him some memories that he'll recall later in life... without having to lose a bat. (And no, he won't be wearing plaid polyester!)
Perfect PDX playing weather, last night Jose Acevado threw against the Beavers.

VR
06-02-2006, 03:44 PM
Perfect PDX playing weather, last night Jose Acevado threw against the Beavers.

Wasn't it 80's night? Did you wear the mullet?

Tonight is Eddie Basinski night, honored for playing for the Beavs for 10 years after his first 3 professional years were in the bigs, including starting for the Dodgers while PeeWee was in the service. I like those kind of honorees, the guy is 84....it will be cool.

westofyou
06-02-2006, 03:54 PM
Wasn't it 80's night? Did you wear the mullet?

Tonight is Eddie Basinski night, honored for playing for the Beavs for 10 years after his first 3 professional years were in the bigs, including starting for the Dodgers while PeeWee was in the service. I like those kind of honorees, the guy is 84....it will be cool.
I don't do Beaver games on thursdays...too many drunks. Thirsty Thursdays.

RedsMan3203
06-02-2006, 03:58 PM
My 1st game was at River Front while it still was River Front. I just turned 7 years old and it was the best thing in the world at the time. I attended the double hitter between the Braves and Reds on August 20th, 1991. The year after the great year. I don't remember much from the game, I remembed the Reds winning one, and losing one. Nothing about the games its self thou.

My 2nd game I attended was I believe was August 18th 95 when we had John Smiley and David Wells. Why I remember those 2 that night? Well Wells' pitched, and Smiley threw me a baseball that night.

Now, I attending a couple games a year... But those 2 games put the love of the game in me......

OldRightHander
06-02-2006, 06:04 PM
My 1st game was at River Front while it still was River Front. I just turned 7 years old and it was the best thing in the world at the time. I attended the double hitter between the Braves and Reds on August 20th, 1991.

I think I was there as well for that one, although I was in my 20s and out of college by then. I honestly don't have a memory of my first game, but more of a scattering of memories probably pieced together from several games during the early and mid 70s. I remember always beeing in awe of the vast expanse of green, even if it was fake, and the crisp white of the uniforms. I always bood the opposition and cheered the Reds, except when Dad told me not to boo Hank Aaron. I was somewhat confused why we could boo other opposing players and not him. After Dad told me why, I at least accepted it for the moment. Only later would I realize how fortunate I was to have seen some of the players I saw in my early childhood, even the ones who weren't playing for the Reds.

redsmetz
06-02-2006, 07:14 PM
I think I was there as well for that one, although I was in my 20s and out of college by then. I honestly don't have a memory of my first game, but more of a scattering of memories probably pieced together from several games during the early and mid 70s. I remember always beeing in awe of the vast expanse of green, even if it was fake, and the crisp white of the uniforms. I always bood the opposition and cheered the Reds, except when Dad told me not to boo Hank Aaron. I was somewhat confused why we could boo other opposing players and not him. After Dad told me why, I at least accepted it for the moment. Only later would I realize how fortunate I was to have seen some of the players I saw in my early childhood, even the ones who weren't playing for the Reds.

I'm the same way, I remember various games at Crosley Field. I remember going to a game with a kid down the street and we were sitting in the upper deck and were flipping baseball cards down below us until an usher came along and told us to stop. I also remember going to games with this priest our family knew and he'd take a group of kids down and we'd sit in boxseats. The game I remember the best is the final game at Crosley. I was 13 and I went down with my two older brothers. That was a great game. A few days later, my next younger brother went to the first game at Riverfront.

The first game I attended there was the All Star game in 1970. My folks had tickets in the red seats and my dad had someone tell him he could sit down in the blue seats with them. My mom gave me and one of my brothers the other two tickets and said they probably were the last row anyway. Yikes! Was she ever right! I remember walking out from the concourse and seeing the bright green Astroturf (Astroturf! - it was cool then) and couldn't believe this fantastic futuristic looking stadium. Little did we know how many knees that turf would destroy.

OldRightHander
06-02-2006, 11:28 PM
The game I remember the best is the final game at Crosley. I was 13 and I went down with my two older brothers. That was a great game. A few days later, my next younger brother went to the first game at Riverfront.


I was there too, but I'll have to admit that my memories of it aren't exactly that vivid. I was just a year old and I was there on Mom's lap because she couldn't find a babysitter.

redsmetz
06-03-2006, 06:52 PM
I was there too, but I'll have to admit that my memories of it aren't exactly that vivid. I was just a year old and I was there on Mom's lap because she couldn't find a babysitter.

Were you that baby I sat behind who cried the whole game? :laugh: Or was that "Go Reds, Goo Goo"?

WVRedsFan
06-04-2006, 12:56 AM
Great topic Wheelhouse.

I've probably told this before, but if I have be real quiet because I'd like to hear it again myself.

I found Reds baseball when I was just a baby. I don't remember it, but my mother and father told me it's so. Dad was a Reds fanatic and never missed a game on radio for his entire 72 years (or so Mom said). He even had a special room in the house I was born in where he could listen without interruption.

He often talked about how frustrating it was to be a Reds fan, but the 1961 season was special. In November of 1960, we had moved into a different house. A flood had made our old home unliveable and Dad had used most all of his savings to buy this new house. For the first time in ages, he wouldn't make it to Cincinnati to see a Reds game. Prior to 1961, I was a fan, but an occasional fan, but that year I started listening to the games with Dad in a new special room. It killed Dad that he couldn't go to a game in a year the Reds finally won a pennant, but we had a good time anyway.

The summer of 1962, I was 13 years old and Dad decided it was time to go to a game. He had recovered from the cash outlay for the new house and since he worked for the railroad, he got passes to ride the train to Cincinnati, see a game and travel all night home. It was an adventure.

I'd always dreamed about Crosley Field, so when we stepped off that train in Union Terminal, all I wanted to do was get there. The train was a tad late and I was antsy, but Dad hailed a cab and we were off to the game. We got there about a half hour before the game and had what we would call field level seats today, but Dad called them box seats. We were about 4 rows up behind the Cincinnati dugout and you could see all the action so vividly. I remember how red the Reds uniforms were. In those days, when the Reds were on, it was in black and white, so you couldn't tell.

I saw Frank Robinson hit a home run and make what Dad called a circus catch in the outfield. It went too fast. It was over and I wanted to stay and just look at the ballpark. The ballpark my mind's eye had seen so often, but had only been seen on television or heard about was just as I had expected. It was old, but it was the Reds' ballpark.

We hustled back to Union Terminal to catch the train home, but we had to make a pit stop before boarding. Dad had bought me a pennant with the team picture on it, but unfortunately, my mother had laid to down when she went in there and someone had taken it. It was the only downer of the day.

Dad and I made four more of those trips before his untimely death in 1980 and I made a pledge to take my son each year at least once to a Reds game. For the first time in his life, last year we didn't go. Call it disgust or being a stubborn person, I just would not spend my money on the product the Reds put out last year. I regret it so much. Who knows how many years I'll have to take my boy to a game?

We'll be there this year.

RFS62
06-05-2006, 01:20 AM
Great thread.

I grew up in backwoods West Virginia. The main line of the Norfolk and Western Railroad was about 30 yards from our house. Most of the time this was a bad thing, as the entire house rattled when a train went by.

But it was a very good thing when my mother, who raised my brother and I, took us to see my beloved Reds. We literally flagged down the Powhattan Arrow, the N&W's passenger train from Norfolk to Cincinnati, to pick us up for the 6 hour ride. We stood out by the tracks and flagged down the train, a whistle stop, as it was called back in the day.

The train had a bubble top section where you could sit and take in the scenery, and for a 10 year old it was magical. I'll never forget any of it, or the sacrifice that a single mother with very limited resources made to get her two boys to a game.

Union Terminal was so huge. The murals, the immensity of it all, it was other worldly.

We took a taxi to the Sheraton Hotel downtown where we stayed. The three day vacation was all my mom could afford, so we always tried for a weekend with a double-header so we could get in four games before heading back home.

We always had breakfast at Peri's Pancake House, which was close to the hotel. It's funny how so many of the the little details stick with you even all these years later. Then we'd take a bus to Crosley, which was like a pilgrimage to Mecca to me.

I always made Mom leave early enough to be there when the gates opened, so we could see infield and batting practice.

I too will never forget my first look at the field. The immaculate green scupltured carpet, and the players in those incredible uniforms. I made my way to just behind the dugout, and I remember marveling at the stitching of the numbers on the uniforms. I know how silly that sounds now, but to a 10 year old who'd never seen a professional game before, it was a surreal experience in every regard.

It was a big sacrifice for my mother to take us there for a weekend series every year for about 5 years. I didn't realize until much later how much it pushed our limited budget.

Because of her, I got to see Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Koufax, Stargill, Banks, Clemente, Rose, Bench, Perez, Maloney, Nolan, Aaron, Matthews, Spahn, Mazerowski, Allen, and many, many other stars of the 60's who I considered legends in my little world.

Don't ever underestimate the effect these images and experiences have on your kids. To this day, when I talk about baseball with my mom, I thank her for what she went through for us. She didn't give a hoot about baseball, but knew how much it meant to me.

That was our vacation every year for 5 years. A weekend in Cincy to see the greatest baseball players on earth. It may not seem like much in todays world, but it was priceless to me. I was in heaven every time I walked through that portal and saw that field.

To this day, every single time I walk into a big league park, I stop and gaze across the field and remember those days when I was a kid and we took those magical rides into Valhalla. I've been to hundreds of big league games all over America since then, and in every single one of them, I partake in that ritual.

The game is so much bigger than all the problems that we moan and groan over. The game dwarfs any indignity that Bonds or Canseco might bring upon it.

The game endures in the imagination of every 10 year old who marvels at the subtleties, even years later when it all seems like a wonderful dream.