I can only reflect my own time and space (born post-Big Red Machine; Riverfront Stadium), and so I welcome the input of others who have enjoyed different experiences. Oh, it’s lovely to have Skyline and cupholders so that one’s pop isn’t flavored by flecks of peanut shells from five innings of sitting between the Keds, but there’s something lost in the struggle.

-More than one or two random people keeping actual score with an actual pencil

-Giveaways of plastic helmets that wouldn’t protect against a slight breeze

-Leaving the car in absolutely terrifying parking lots that may or may not contain bodies buried beneath the concrete

-One JumboTron. Just one. If you sat underneath it, you simply accepted that you were screwed and got on with life.

-Occasionally, the player’s batting average was shown. Maybe. If there was room on the ribbon board. Otherwise you got the number and his position and that was pretty much it.

-The ghost of the Bengals field outlined on the Astroturf


-Organ in plain view. It was a musical experience you could trust.

-No one sits in the yellow seats unless they’re actual verifiable big shots. Maybe the President of the United States sits there. Or Norma Rashid. But mostly the President of the United States.

-Nothing was branded. The hot dog. The cheeseburger. The ice cream. It was all generic Baseball Food, and you would eat it and you would like it.

-Giant right field. Giant center field. Giant left field.

We never questioned it. This was how stadiums were constructed, and the matter was not even discussed.

-Mario Soto

-You were sitting in Riverfront Stadium. Could you see the river?

You could not.

-Maybe you would see American League scores during the game. Maybe not. Nobody asked for them. What did we care about what the stupid Red Sox were doing unless it was at least Game One of the World Series?

-Short-lived excitement when a Pittsburgh broadcast showed Riverfront Stadium but oh no wait that’s not Riverfront Stadium.

-Nick Esasky

-Mr. Red was only on the franchise merchandise and in our hearts

-Polyester: On the field. In the press box. In the yellow seats. Synthetics were a way of life.

-Pre-game Baseball Bunch reruns on the tiny TV screens at the aisles

-Taking the Skywalk from far-away-from-the-stadium to… also far-away-from-the-stadium

-There weren’t just Topp’s trading cards… there were Topp’s trading stickers, and they went in exact places in a Topp’s trading scrapbook, and the entire set did not exist anywhere.

-If you wanted to yell at the players, you had to go all the way down to the stadium and do it in person, and they cared exactly as much as if you did it on Twitter.

What did I miss?

70 Responses

  1. ryan

    That darn vertigo derailed a promising career for Nick Esasky

    • Earmbrister

      Is vertigo common to Nicks?

      If so, parents need to be more cautious in naming their kids …

    • Tservo

      I loved meeting our guide Sherpa when we bought Top 6 seats 15 min before the first pitch!

  2. Oldtimer

    I remember lots of those things.

    I remember the sights and sounds and smells (hot dogs and brats cooking on those grills) of Crosley Field. I remember the last game there (June 24, 1970). I remember my first game there (vs Dodgers in 1958). I remember the 1961 WS. I remember Frank Robinson hitting 3 HR vs Cardinals on August 22, 1959 and JUST missing a fourth HR. Gino Cimoli caught it up against the RF bleachers. I remember Jim Maloney and Bob Veale dueling in a 16 inning, 1-0 Reds loss in September 1964. I remember Gary Nolan striking out Willie Mays four times in 1967 but the Reds lost anyway. I remember getting Howie Nunn’s autograph several dozen times in 1961. Sometimes more than once on the same day.

    I remember that first game in Riverfront Stadium on June 30, 1970. The colors inside were so vivid and bright. I remember that ASG in 1970. I remember WS games in 1970, 1972, 1975, and 1976.

    Lots AND LOTS of great memories in both Crosley and Riverfront.

    • Daytonnati

      That creepy feeling when you stepped on one of those rubber strips in the ground around the stadium.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        There’s a whole Chad-led cult around those.

      • Mike Adams

        You got that right: weird and creepy if you are talking about those foot wide rubber strips in the concrete walkways around Riverfront.
        Necessary though because they were expansion joints for all those acres of concrete. Still creepy.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I was hoping someone would chime in with memories of Crosely! Thanks so much!

      • Oldtimer

        Welcome. It was more intimate than Riverfront to GABP. You could stand and walk right alongside the Reds as they went from their clubhouse to the field and back.

        I saw all the NL legends play there. Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Banks, Koufax, Gibson, Marichal to name a few.

        I saw Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford play there in the 1961 WS. The 1961 Yankees were among the greatest MLB teams ever.

        It was a glorious time. The Reds turned the ship around in the 1950s. Started moving towards championships in the 1960s. And the Big Red Machine debuted there in 1970 (some say 1969 really).

    • Jim t

      @Old timer you and I were at Crosley at many the same games. My Dad worked at the Dalton ave post office a block away. Went to 61 series when Ford beat us 7-1. Was at last game against the Giants. Still go down there on occasion just to remember the good times and my Dad. City Gospel sits on that site. My mom grew up OTR on pleasant st and went to St.Frances. That used to be little Italy back in the day.

      • Oldtimer

        Yessir, it looks like we were at some of the same games.

        My Dad worked at Husman’s on Moore Street (near Vine and Liberty). On weekend day games, we would park there and walk to Crosley for the game.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        That is lovely. And St. Francis is a wonderful church.

    • Andrew Brewer

      Crossley Field was awesome under the lights. The grass never seemed greener. Besides the terraces that served as a kind of warning track there was that Giant Scoreboard in Left Center that took many a shot from hard hit balls that would have been homeruns. Yeah, the seats ran along both baselines and the sundeck in right field cost all of 50 cents, but the bleacher seating was better by far, and the box seats put you right above the action. I think it could hold about 20 thousand, which in terms of attendance is still in the ballpark for Cincy. I couldn’t believe it when they tore it down. Tore out a lot of people’s hearts in the process. They sold the seats to those that wanted them.
      I was in Junior High when Pete Rose came up as rookie and played second base. He was the home town hero from the start. As a kid growing up in Cincy of course we were Reds fans. We played baseball in the street, and got baseball cards with a slab of bubble gum from the Ice Cream Man. We really did slide on the concrete and did it without a scratch…
      Back to Crossley. I had a Ferris Buehler moment in ’69 or ’70 from out along the left field bleachers. The Reds were down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth. Lee May was up and the mood was somber like an expecting doom. But the Big Bopper was hanging in there ! Let’s get something going, I said, and before I knew it, like a wave, the whole left side of the bleachers was booming with the clapping of hands and banging of feet on the steel. It moved around until the entire place was exploding, and I’ll be damned if Lee May didn’t hit one that had no doubt. It was gone, and the satisfaction ran deep.
      No, I couldn’t believe they tore Crossley down. The new megastructure didn’t have the same feel. They even tried a brass band instead of an organ for a while. Tommy Helms hit the first homerun at Riverfront just clearing the 318 mark in left field. By 1972 I was off into the Army, and missed most of the games in person, during the Big Red Machine era. It was there and it was gone, or does it still live on ? I was certainly mystified how such a great team could disappear almost over night… It’s good to see the Reds in action, and our expectations high !

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        This is gold! Definitely save this post somewhere permanent for you and your family!

  3. Votto4life

    Riverfront will always me my favorite stadium. My father helped build it. When I was young he was always off somewhere building something.

    Before the stadium opened, he and his buddies painted their names along with their wives on the rafters facing the outside of the stadium. It made the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer at the time.

    It was where I attended my first major league game with my father in 1973. Reds and Cubs. Ferguson Jenkins vs Jim McGlothlin. McGlothhlin was a great pitcher, who would died a couple years later of cancer.

    I saw like eight future hall of famers that day. The Reds lost 7-0 but I didn’t care. The most important memory to me is I spent the whole day with my dad. I miss Riverfront stadium. I miss my father more.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      That is the coolest! I will always associate my dad with Riverfront as well. Baseball is meant for parents and their babies <3

      • TR

        Most of us fans got our love of baseball and the Reds from our parent(s) or other family members. I was always a catcher and my Dad loved to tell me how Ernie Lombardi, from the crouch, could flip the ball to second to nail the runner. I tried it but it was way beyond my ability.

  4. Mike Adams

    Not baseball related but I remember gas wars by the gas stations on US 52 just east of Riverfront.
    Gas was 29 cents a gallon and I remember for a fill-up one station gave away a glass of a collectible set and another station gave away a big bottle of Coke.
    And I remember (and miss) listening to the ol’ lefthander rounding third and heading for home on the post game radio show.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I visited Hawaii in the early 2000’s and took a picture of a sign advertising $2.00 gas, because I didn’t think anyone on the mainland would believe me.

  5. Earmbrister

    Afternoon newspaper baseball box scores from the night before. There’s something to be said for delayed gratification.

    Ticket stubs.

    • Earmbrister

      Transistor radios in the stands.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Yes, my grandfather enjoyed having Marty and Joe along!

    • Mark Moore

      The “late” scores. Those were always a treat and kind of like a mystery treasure hunt.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh I miss box scores! Been a while since I’ve seen one of those.

  6. David

    Crosley Field. You could see I-75 out beyond the Scoreboard.
    Lee May hit a home run through the scoreboard once, all the way out onto I-75.
    The grass on the field was so green.

    When a rally started, the fans would stomp their feet. The metal in the stands would vibrate. It was a little scary for a kid. But fun.

    The last game I saw at Riverfront with my Dad was in 1975, the Reds beat the Cubs 12-8, or something like that. The Cubs went out in front 6-0 by the third inning. The Reds rallied back, and believe it or not, scored 12 runs WITHOUT hitting a single homer in that game. Either George Foster or Dan Driessen (I forget now) blasted a based loaded triple off the center field wall.

    Great American is actually quite a nice park. I think I like it better than I ever liked Riverfront/Cinergy, even after they took the “bite” out to begin building Great American. Saw many, many great games at Riverfront.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The metal bleachers is a lovely detail. I wonder if we’ll get back to that much excitement.

    • Oldtimer

      Technically it was Frank Robinson who hit the HR (estimated at more than 500 feet) to CF that landed on the exit ramp from I-75. May did hit one through the scoreboard window once.

      When I first attended a game in Crosley (1958) there was no I-75 yet. Just industrial buildings. I-75 first appeared as the Mill Creek Expressway in 1960 or 1961.

      I remember the industrial laundry beyond LF wall. It was later demolished for a parking lot. Jim Pendleton hit HR on its roof in 1959 (and won a men’s suit). Wally Post won the most suits all time.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Wally Post was my mother’s favorite. I am proud to have learned what “hit the laundry” meant a few years ago.

  7. Mark Moore

    I’ve never lived in Cincinnati, so I didn’t attend any games until 2006. I followed the Reds avidly starting in the early 70’s (spurred on by living in Southern NY State and a hatred of the Yankees). But I remember the things you are calling out. What a list.

    The “skip” throw from Concepcion that he perfected and Larkin carried on. Made it to first quicker and with as much accuracy as a straight throw.

    Catchers “owning” home plate and daring runners to challenge them when trying not to get tagged out.

    So many memories against a whirlwind of changes (some are progress, some not so much).

    Great stuff once again, MBE. Remembering can help us heal as we bide our time, looking at what might be ahead with some of these talented kids.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I have vague memories of Johnny Bench, who retired soon after I could understand what was happening, LOOMING over the plate!

      • Gonzo Reds

        I remember the paint commercials where Johnny (my favorite Red growing up) would finish painting Johnny Bench’s bench and Bob Uecker would come and sit on it. Apparently, Johnny also had a restaurant in Cincy called Home Plate and I picked up a cool retro ad shirt for that a couple of years ago.

      • Oldtimer

        The Home Plate restaurant was located out near Colerain somewhere. Pretty decent food for its day.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The original of that needs to come back!

  8. Rednat

    walks will haunt ghost
    red race. i always chose number 2
    me and my son loved this race
    scoreboard stumper
    5 world series
    peter edward rose breaks cobbs record
    tom browning perfect game
    wire to wire
    the magical 99 season
    pete rose bowls over ray Fosse to win the all star game
    joe morgan back to back mvp

    the only stadium with more history than riverfront is probably yankee stadium

    why on earth did we tear it down?
    to prevent injuries. look at our il? we never had this many injured from 1970 -2000

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I greatly miss the original Mr. Reds race! Bring that back!

  9. SOQ

    I saw 3 games @ Crosley, 1 against the Giants and 2 against the Braves. So I was able to see Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Funny tho, I can’t remember who was pitching. I also remember sitting behind a post, and oddly enough, I remember the giant “trough” in the Men’s room–oh and the smell of cigars. I also remember pleading for “Frankie” Robinson to give me an autograph. He kept ignoring me- I’m guessing because I called him “Frankie” 🙂

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I understand that the trough at Wrigley is still very much intact if you miss it!

      • SOQ

        Wouldn’t be the same without the Cigar smell 🙂

    • Oldtimer

      Frank Robinson’s birthday was August 31. So was mine. I usually mentioned that to him and it was good for an autograph or two. About the third to fourth time I used it, he caught on. His penmanship was incredibly good “script” writing.

      • SOQ

        Good Ploy. I have a 1964 Reds yearbook, and it actually lists the players addresses Frank lived in Bond Hill at that time

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I couldn’t get over that at the first time I saw it in the yearbook. It listed the tire shop where Joe Nuxhall worked! Can you imagine…?!

  10. LDS

    Strive for blue seats, settle for green, and avoid the red or bring your binoculars. Astroturf bounces. Long, long bathroom lines (attendance used to be good). Horrible traffic flow escaping the stadium. Tom Seaver’s no-hitter. I’ve on made it to GABP a couple of times – much nicer than Riverfront. Much.

    • Oldtimer

      Blue seats, right behind home plate, top row (maybe 20th row, I think).

      We had them every game from June 30, 1970 through the 1979 season. Dad retired in February 1980. Our season tickets stayed at Husman’s with him.

      We didn’t go to EVERY game. Sometimes Husman’s employees went. Sometimes Husman’s customers went.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        What a time to have season tickets– Blue seats, no less. Wow.

  11. Mark S.

    -The person smoking a cigar or cigarette in the seat in front of you. Which somehow ended up in your face.
    -They pulled the hot dogs (wrapped in foil) out of the drawer to complete your purchase. Who knows how long ago those suckers were cooked?
    -Vendors walked around selling soda in souvenir cups. Mostly the ice melted on the hot days, not smart buying the last ones on the tray.
    -Playing Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” after a win.
    -The video board graphics. Big Red Smokey video ad. “It’s a…….Smoked Sausage???”
    -I think to be hired as an usher you had to prove you help ensure no one was having any fun.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      lolllll, those ushers were terrifying to a little girl

  12. Mark Elliott

    If you caught a foul ball at Crosley Field.. usher would come around with a “Reds Lifetime Contract”, write your name on (it was signed by some Reds exec.) They would give it to you as your “souvenir” if you gave the ball back. A flimsy piece of pre printed paper instead of an actual ball.. they were cheap back then.

    • Oldtimer

      I remember those. I never caught a ball at Crosley but did at a few road games.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      They…. took the ball back?! Ha! That’s Marge territory!

  13. Votto4life

    I saw Hank Aaron play at Riverfront the day before he broke Ruth’s record.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      that’s awesome! My mom and uncles saw Jackie Robinson. And I can someday tell my great nieces and nephews that I saw Joey Votto. 🙂

  14. SOQ

    I moved to Cincinnati in 1977 for Grad school. I lived in Mt. Auburn at the time and around the 5th inning, some friends and I would cruise downtown and and sneak into Riverfront at the 7th inning stretch (the ushers weren’t watching the gates at that point (same with the Bengals @ half time–the ushers were all watching the 2nd half kick-off). Favorite Riverfront memories, Tom Seaver’s 3000 strike out and a Johnny Bench Grand Slam against the dastardly Dodgers.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I can’t believe that about the ushers. That’s crazy. The Blue seat crew was always ready to take you dooowwwwwwwwn.

  15. Bred

    Thanks for to all for the Crosley Field memories. When I think of Crosley, I think of my dad. We frequently drove down from “The Tree That Grew” way before it did. You all made my day! Thanks.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      These are all terrific memories. I feel terrible for people who don’t have a rooted team like this.

  16. ChicagoCary

    Winning a bus trip from Indy in the summer of 69 to see the Reds at Crosley for the 1 st time. Won by selling the most boxes of candy door to door to raise $ for my Little League team.

    Listening to Pete win the batting title on the last day that season. At home dreaming of Crosley

    Spending Augusts in the 70 ‘s with my Mt Washington GPA. He took me to so many games at Riverfront. Always Green Seats !

    And all alone on many August nights taking the Bus from Mt Washington Fountain square. With $10 and a green seat ticket in my pocket. 14 years old !

    Roaming all over Riverfront. Best day was touring down below in 1974. My GPA worked for the City. We got in a room by the Clubhouse. And to my surprise my Idol Pete Rose walked in. Signed a bat for me ! We won. Listened to him on the Star of the Game as my Grampa drove us home.

    I really miss him and Riverfront!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Those are incredible memories. A bus trip!
      Green seats were where it was at, man.

  17. Robert P

    I started seeing games at riverfront in the early 80s. I still remember the advertisements for the 580 gift shop, the smell of stale beer, cigar and cigarette smoke and the ads for Winston on the Jumbotron. I seem to remember farm night and mini bat giveaways. The Beach Boys played every summer it seemed. Kahn’s was THE hot dog “your…a hot dog?”. Sitting in the top six was fearing for your life as you got up to leave.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh I totally forgot about Beach Boys Night! And my mom was several months along with my sister when she went to her first Bengals game with my dad. She had quite a time of it trying to negotiate the red seats.

  18. Greg

    Before we were allowed to drive to the games: Catching the Reds Express bus at Kenwood Plaza (now Towne Centre). Then, after the game was over, running like heck to get back to the bus before it left, ha. Eating at the Montgomery Road McDonald’s across the street after the game.

    After we were allowed to drive to games: Parking at the Western Southern garage. Playing frisbee there after the game was over, waiting for the traffic to let up.

    I worked at Brendamour’s in the ’70s, moving from store to store. At Northgate, Johnny Bench’s Home Plate was a frequent stop after work (someone else mentioned his restaurant, I believe). In Kenwood, a couple of the Reds players lived in the condos/apartments across the street, so several Reds were frequent visitors, I remember Driessen and Concepcion being intrigued at how we strung tennis racquets.

  19. Pablo

    Stomping on empty wax paper cups at Riverfront trying to get that perfect “boom” was a fun tradition. Also buying top six and then lurking around hoping to find an unattended ramp so you could scoot down to the blue level and stand at the rail behind home plate. Was down at the rail the night Norm Charlton barreled around 3rd and absolutely annihilated Mike Scioscia in a collision at home plate. The stadium erupted.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh man I wish I knew about that cup-stomping trick.

  20. NorMichRed

    I lost my Dad one month ago today. Reading so many of the memories above tore out my heart all over again, even though he got to live a full and great life to a ripe age. I don’t get to share any more baseball memories with him, but glad we got to relive several of the best ones in his final years. We grew up in the northern part of the state, so my Reds’ fandom was something the rest of the family didn’t share with me. But we shared days and nights at the ballpark on the lake up north (often in relative privacy watching bad teams!), and he taught me the game and a passion for it as a youngster. Thanks to all for sharing your memories and refreshing my own. I’ve seen many games at Riverfront (including 1975 WS) and a handful at GABP, missed seeing Crosley by a couple years during my time in the Queen City. Like MBE, I’ll be able to tell my grandkids about seeing JV19. And I’ll be able to share with them seeing the Great Eight in person. Still beyond description.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I am so very sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to lose a parent… but it sounds like you’re carrying forward some wonderful memories of him.

  21. PatTheBat

    Late to this party, but … at Crosley, my first game was in ’56 vs. Cardinals. Somehow dad came up with tickets maybe 10 rows straight behind home plate. As Stan Musial came up for the first time, my younger brother booed him. I told him to shush because Musial was going to be a Hall-of-Famer. At least I knew something in first grade.
    Couple years later, sitting down low in the Sun Deck, we heard a fan yell at the Pirates’ rightfielder, “Clemente is a hamburger!” Got laughs all around. Roberto turned around to see who was dissing him, as if to say “Americano, why are you calling me that?” Worse than calling someone a “hot dog” in 1960 vernacular??
    Crosley footnote: FWIW, pretty sure it was “Seibler Suit” sign above the laundry.

    And at Riverfront: early April College Nights were a weather crap shoot. On a 2nd or 3rd date with my wife to be, huddling/cuddling under blankets as the thermometer inched down toward 35*, Reds & Giants headed to extra innings. Nearly left a couple times but stayed almost to midnight to see the Reds finally win!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      You’re never late to a party when you bring Stan Musial to it.