|Reds fans at Fountain Square awaiting the parade|
|Great American Ballpark (seen from Kentucky side)|
As for me; on that chilly Thursday morning, April 5th 2012, I had to get up earlier than one would like. A 6:00 am alarm got my brain working well enough to remember that today was the greatest day of the year in Cincinnati. Once realized, my noggin’ was firing on all cylinders. Pre-packed beer coolers, snack bags, a camera case, and baseball glove was quickly shuffled to the car. I got my daughter up, brushed her teeth, and snapped her into the car seat, milk in hand. We were looking at the City of Dayton in the rear view mirror and headed south on I-75 with intent and purpose; only stopping in my small hometown of Liberty Township to drop Abbie off with grandma and grandpa. I glided over the rolling hills of the old farm lands to Monroe, another small town and home of another frequent Great American Ball Park patron, life-long Reds fan, co-worker, and friend. I had transferred the fore mentioned beer, snacks, and necessities to his car and back on I-75 south we were. Traffic was light getting into the Queen City, most people were at work and other Opening Day goers were en route. This is the point in which my Opening Day experience differed than the average Reds fan. Once in Cincinnati, we didn’t head to the east side of town towards the ball park; instead, our day began on the west side. I had wanted to pay my respects to the Reds of the past and most importantly Pete Rose. Pete Rose grew up in Anderson Ferry, a small west side neighborhood on the Ohio River. Pete told stories of his father and him being dropped off at Frisch’s and walking to Crosley Field to watch the Reds play. Pete learned everything he knew about baseball from his dad, along with his winning work ethic. After watching Reds greats play Pete joined the ranks in 1963 came his debut at Crosley field.
|Freeman Ave exit off I75 South|
|Frisch's Big Boy on Freeman (1st Frisch's) Pete Rose ate here.|
|Dalton tunnel under Union Terminal|
|Inside Union Terminal|
|Union Terminal (two black holes in courtyard are lighting ports for tunnel below)|
|Phillips Supply Company sets on Crosley Field|
|Walking towards Phillips Supply Company (homeplate is to the left)|
|Old Riverfront Stadium seats, heading towards Crosley. Walking from what would be the visitor dugout.|
|First glimpse of the plate.|
|Crosley Field in it's day|
|My map to Crosley Field|
We paid respects to the backbone of the game, the start, the cradle of baseball civilization, now back to the present and the season ahead. We drove down to our regular parking lot between Theodore M. Berry Way and W. Mehring Way. The parking lot was full of Reds fans and tailgaters; we joined the festivities with a case of Coors and a round of tossing a baseball. We caught some sun, some baseballs, and a buzz and decided it was time to walk north to the 93rd Findlay Market Parade. The crowds were dense but we weaseled our way to Fountain Square in time to catch Grand Marshal Aaron Boone lead the parade followed by fire departments, marching bands, Miss Cincinnati, and a truck hauling Nick Massat and Matt Latos. Shortly after a fleet of 50’s-60’s pickup trucks rolled through we headed back down to Great American Ballpark. Once inside the park one couldn’t help notice how empty it was as everyone was still outside at the block party. We wandered the empty caverns of the stadium taking our time finding our seats. Enjoying the scenery as workers buzzed around the field setting up the Marlins batting practice. Stopping by the concessions stands to fill up on Hebrew Nationals and beer we then climbed the stairs to our seats. There we sat for the next two hours, drinking beer, eating peanuts and talking about the same baseball news we have been rumbling about all winter long, as if it was the latest news. Would Drew Stubbs cut down his strikes? Votto’s mammoth contract, Scott Rolen’s health, and the rotation potential were all topics of discussion.
Two hours and 46 minutes, a few more beers, and 4 runs later, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Miami Marlins in this titanic Opening Day struggle. Johnny Cueto shutout the fish as Bruce, Heisey, Ludwick, Rolen, Votto, Phillips, Stubbs, and Hannigan all brought their bats and got some hits. A perfect start to a year that looks promising. Here’s to the 2012 Cincinnati Reds, the fans, and the over a hundred years of baseball heritage laying the foundation for success.
My Opening Day: By Nathan A. Hellweg- Dedicated to Brandon Phillips #4, in hopes of a contract getting worked out soon.