For Cincinnati Reds baseball fans, Opening Day ranks right up there with Christmas or New Years. It’s a day to celebrate the national pastime with a parade, hot dogs, beer and of course, the game itself.
Here are five notable opening day moments from Red’s history:
Take me out to the ball game. The first opening day “festivities” held for the Cincinnati Red Stockings took place in 1889, according to Reds. The ballpark was decorated, and a concert was held by the Cincinnati Orchestra before the game.
If you bought a ticket to sit in a box during the Opening Day game in 1895, it would have cost you $1. A ticket to sit in the reserved grandstand cost 75 cents, a seat in a covered pavilion was 50 cents and a quarter would get you a seat in the bleachers. Season tickets back then were $35.
Everyone loves a parade. The inaugural parade celebrating Cincinnati baseball was held in 1890, according to the Findlay Market Opening Day website. That parade consisted of three street cars – one for the Reds, one for the visiting Chicago Colts team and the third for a marching band.
Findlay Market made its debut in the parade at Opening Day in 1920. The festivities gathered steam through the years, and in 1970 it began to be covered live on local television.
Reds owner Marge Schott bought the team in 1984 and used her connections to include animals from the Cincinnati Zoo. An elephant used its trunk to hand Sparky Anderson the honorary “first pitch” in 1996.
Resting up for the big game. The night before Pete Rose made his major league debut in 1963, a psychologist ordered him to spend the night in a hotel to ward off a potential case of the nerves.
Rose, who is from Cincinnati, reportedly was instructed by practical psychologist Fred Hutchinson that he should stay with the rest of the team at the Netherlands Hilton Hotel. Before heading there he made a brief visit to his family home and dropped off a load of laundry.
“I was nervous only once. That was about an hour before the game when they took my picture with mom and dad and my little brother, David,” Rose told the Dayton Daily News after the next day’s opener. “That’s the only time I thought very much about playing in front of my folks and my friends in the big league. Then it wore off and I was all right.”
A record breaker. Atlanta’s Hank Aaron hit the 714th home run of his major league career during the 1974 opening day game at Riverfront Stadium, tying him with Babe Ruth’s career record.
“Henry this is for the day and congratulations if you get it” whispered Cincinnati catcher Johnny Bench as Aaron stood in the batter’s box, reported the Dayton Daily News.
As more than 52,000 spectators including Vice President Gerald Ford watched, “Aaron flashed out with those incredibly quick wrists and history was airborne. The cow-hide-covered baseball screamed on a line over the dark gray wall in left center…”
The game was stopped for six minutes as Aaron, his teammates and Cincinnati celebrated the historic accomplishment.
A brand new home. The Opening Day game in 2003 was played in a new stadium – Great American Ballpark.
The $289 million stadium was the first facility to feature natural turf actually grown within a synthetic carpet. The ingenuity was designed to make the playing surface more durable to adverse weather conditions and the gradual wear and tear of major league baseball.
The ball park opened to throngs of fans eager to take one of 42,263 seats and watch the Reds play the Pirates.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.