No day says “Cincinnati” like Opening day, because Opening Day is Cincinnati.
Betty Heskamp.I went to quite a few openers at Crosley Field, when I was in school. If you got a ticket you got out of school, and I hated school.
Pete RoseBack in those days, if you weren’t in school on Opening Day, everybody just assumed where you were. It was a holiday.
Eddie BrinkmanOpening Day, it’s finally here and with it comes the season and the demise of the off season hemming and hawing about what will happen. Now we shall see. It beats the crap out of talk.If you don’t try to get out of school on Opening Day, there’s something wrong with you! It’s right up there with Christmas.
Opening day in Cincinnati has a long and storied history, interrupted once in 1935 when the Pirates new ownership felt that the Reds had hogged the event for long enough. This assertion led to the Reds being scheduled to open the season in Pittsburgh as opposed to at home. The Reds owner Powell Crosley and GM Larry MacPhail raised such a stink over the affair, citing the towns devotion the event, parades, local schools closing at 1:30 to allow children to witness the game or parade that celebrated the event. Wrap that argument up in the poor financial era of the depression and color it with the hue of green and we’ll just note that the game was moved back to Crosley Field, where it continues to be played until they torn that park down.I remember thinking, This is the place to be. In the starting lineup Opening Day, Cincinnati.
Out of the pages of the long history of the Reds Opening Days falls a few facts that I’ll leave you as you all prepare to soak up the first full day of baseball, hopefully you’re free to catch the game of your choice, but if you can’t don’t despair… there’s 161 more to go after today.
The Reds place canaries in cages and hang them at the entrance of the park on Opening Day. Their songs welcome the incoming fans. The Reds lost 5-1 to Louisville.
The Reds last Home Opener that allowed fans to sit on the field, this rule will end the long standing Field Seats rules that carried over from the era before outfield seats were available. The Reds were last team to be allowed to use the rule to squeeze more fans into the game. It was not uncommon for the crowd to surge forward as the Reds hits traveled towards them, nor was it uncommon for them to surge backwards when the opposing teams drives came their way.
Who are the Reds playing?
Oh….. here come the Cubs, once again… word on the street is their fans are annoying to the locals when in Cincinnati, it might be the Chili vs. The tomato and pickle on the hot dog thing. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t made a Cubs game outside of Wrigley myself. Some might ponder, Why the Cubs? But it’s a western part of the league tradition (not the west we know now, the old west (the Midwest)) Since the Reds made their way back into the National League they usually played either the Cubs or Pirates up until the Cardinals jumped in the mix in 1917. They did play the Cleveland Spiders 3 times in the 1890’s but that rivalry vanished when the Spiders were contracted in 1899. While the Reds opened at home every year the Pirates opened on the road for 41 straight seasons, usually in Cincinnati or in St. Louis. When the Braves moved west to Wisconsin they jumped into the group and came to town in 1953, all in all the Reds have faced 16 different franchises on Opening Day, with the Rockies in 1997 being the most recent addition to the club.
The Reds have opened three of their ballparks on Opening Day, including Redland Field on April, 11th 1912 (they won 10-6) three days later the Titanic sank and 9 days later Fenway Park and Tiger Stadium hosted their first game. The Reds also open the Great American Ballpark in 2003 when Barry Larkin was the first batter to take a pitch in a ML game (this time the Reds gave up the 10 runs and took the loss). The Redland Field opener in 1912 saw Johnny Evers as the first batter. If (or shall I say when) Larkin gets in the Hall of Fame then the Reds can say two of the games greatest infielders took the first swings at their new parks, 81 years apart.
Speaking of leading off, Pete Rose holds the record for leading off for the Reds on Opening Day with 12. If it wasn’t for 1966 and 1967 when Tommy Harper had the honor Pete would have led off for 14 straight seasons. In second place is Miller Huggins with 5 seasons as the lead off hitter way back in the early part of the 20th century. Between Huggins and Pete the Reds had 34 different leadoff hitters (in 42 seasons) and since Pete left in 1978 16 different men have had the honor.
With Aaron Harang making his second consecutive start on Opening day I’ll leave you with a short list of the most successful Opening Day starter in Reds history, Mario Soto. Soto started every Opening Day from 1982 to 1988 losing the 1982 game and then winning the next four in a row. He didn’t receive a decision in the 87 or 88 game. No other Red pitcher has won the Opening Day game more then two times in a row (Pete Schneider, Waite Hoyt, Ewell Blackwell and Tom Browning) The Reds haven’t had the tradition of a great pitching team, so the list of pitchers who are in the Hall of Fame and also pitched on Opening Day (and received a decision) in Cincinnati is heavily weighed toward the visitors (with Seaver being the only Red) and they are as followed (with an L behind those who lost the contest):In 1956 I got the Opening Day start, the only one of my career…and that was a high honor.
Jesse Haines L, Dizzy Dean, Grover Alexander, Cy Young, Don Sutton, Don Drysdale, Waite Hoyt, Robin Roberts L, Tom Seaver L, Steve Carlton L, Phil Niekro L, .
Opening Day is finally here, enjoy.