Last week when the Cubs were in Cincinnati to play the Reds I had the day off and so I took the opportunity to drive down there, a little over 5 hours, to see the Cubs play. It was my first time at Great American Ballpark.
The drive wasn’t bad; the game was scheduled to start at 11:30, so I left my house at 4am. With one bathroom/coffee stop, I was in the parking lot near the stadium at 9:20.
The gates to the park were to open at 10am, so I went to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame first.
(You can click on this picture and all the other to see in full size)
The entrance to the Reds Hall is just outside “Nuxy’s Entrance” to the park, named after Reds pitcher and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, who was the youngest pitcher to appear in a major League game when he pitched on June 10th, 1944 at the age of 15……………take that Bryce Harper. Also just outside that gate is a statue of Johnny Bench.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again, Bench was my favorite player when I was a kid.
Inside the museum, the first exhibit is about the 1975-76 Champion Reds. It’s also the third, fifth, sixth, and ninth. I will just say this, everywhere you go in the museum and in the ballpark itself, you will find one reference or another to the Big Red Machine. Not that I blame them, they were a great team. I’m sure if the Cubs ever win a World Series that team will be celebrated for decades to come too.
There are plenty of jerseys and bios of all the players. I took a couple of pictures.
Here is a picture of game worn spikes from Johnny Bench.
Look at those things. I was playing Little League when Bench was wearing those spikes and I had a better pair. Those things look they should have been worn by Gabby Hartnett in 1930, not All-Star Johnny Bench in the 70’s.
Surprisingly, or not, I’m not sure, there is not as much Pete Rose stuff as I thought there might be. There is a jersey and some pictures, but not overdone. There is a wall that is covered with 4,256 baseball’s. Here is the plaque that goes next to it.
The wall itself is right along a three story staircase that takes you to an upper level of the museum. It’s nice as you walk up the stairs they highlight certain numbered balls that you can read about, but it makes it impossible to get a nice picture. However, from the third floor you can look out over the “Rose” garden.
UPDATE: I just found a video description of the Pete Rose Baseball Wall and Garden, and now with the ability to add MLB Video’s here it is:
Once you are on the third floor they have another Big Red Machine exhibit, just in case you forgot who won the 1975 WS.
To finish up the tour, you see the 1990 World Series Trophy…
….and the plaques of all the Reds Hall of Fame members. There are 72 players and 6 executives honored, and no, Pete Rose is not one of them. Here are two pictures.
It was now 10am, time for the gates to open.
As you can see, there were probably less than 100 people at the gate. As we waited there was some friendly banter going on back and forth between Cubs and Reds fans.
When the gates opened I went straight into the seating area and took this shot.
It was really kind of weird being one of the first people inside a huge empty stadium. I then went back into the concourse to look around. One of the first things I saw was an LED sign hanging overhead with the starting lineups for both teams. For people like me that like to keep score at the game, this is a great feature.
If fact, during the game I was shown on TV writing something into my score book.
BTW, this game featured two starting pitchers (Ryan Dempster and Homer Baily) that were celebrating birthdays that day. That was the first time in Major League history that that had happened.
As I started my walk along the concourse, guess what I saw first. Yes, it was a mural of the 1975 Reds.
With no batting practice that day, I had plenty of time to walk around the entire stadium, and I did. Here are just a few of the pictures I took.
I just walked around, taking pictures and talking with ushers. I was wearing a Cubs hat and jersey and almost every usher asked me if I drove down for the series, when I told them that I just drove in that morning for the game most thought it was crazy, but then they all wanted to tell me about “their” park. I’ve found that no matter where you go, baseball fans are proud of their park and when given the chance to talk about it with other baseball fans, they will gladly do so.
It was about 25 minutes before game time and I headed to my seat. I had a GREAT seat. Row 1 right behind the Cubs dugout. Here are two pictures of Soriano and Castro warming up right in front of me.
I took a few shots during the game, but I brought my cheap camera with me instead of the nice one and it doesn’t do very well with action shots.
Here is DeJesus leading off the game for the Cubs.
Here is Castro rounding third after hitting a first inning solo HR
I took this shot of Garza and Samardzija between innings
Somehow I get the feeling they weren’t looking into the crowd to see if they could spot dorks like me with a scorebook and camera in hand, they were probably doing a different kind of people watching.
Here is a shot of LaHair after a solo HR
In the middle of the game I went for a snack. First I had a hotdog. The women behind the counter asked if I wanted to get a red shirt also. At first I didn’t realize what she meant. I thought maybe it was a snack to go with the hotdog. Then I realized that she was talking about getting a Reds shirt instead of wearing my Cubs shirt, I laughed and said I was just fine the way I was. I ate the hotdog quickly and went looking for nachos to take back to my seat. I had to walk all the way out to the outfield concourse before I found them. I wished I hadn’t. I don’t know what kind of cheese that they use there, but it just didn’t taste that good to me.
The middle innings went fast and both pitchers were doing a good job.
The Cubs were leading the game 3-0 going into the eighth after hitting three solo shots early in the game. Then the Reds brought in Aroldis Chapman. I’ll just say this, he throws hard
The Cubs entered the bottom of the ninth leading 3-0. They lost the game 4-3 in ten innings. I could go through the gory details, but I’ll just let the pictures tell the tale.
After that is was back into the car for the 5 and a 1/2 hour drive home. Ugh.
Update: Thanks to Mark and MLBlogs Network for featuring my post on the front page. For all the new readers that have been directed to this page you can click HERE to read my most recent posts or subscribe to my page to receive email updates. Thanks for reading.