Visiting Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati

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.

Look at the way the seats are turned toward home plate.

 

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.

Marmol comes in to close it out

 

Votto at the plate

Visit to the mound

Harris scores. Cubs 3-1

The bags are full of Reds

Votto Scores. Cubs 3-2

Sveum to the Mound

Marmol to the Bench

Throwing error in 10th with a tie score

1st and 3rd No outs. “What should we do?”

Cozart Scores the winning run. Reds Win 4-3

Dolis walks off. Reds Celebrate

Me – “Nice pitching Dolis” Dolis – no comment, but a good stare down.

After that is was back into the car for the 5 and a 1/2 hour drive home. Ugh.

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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.

~Russel

15 Comments

Awesome post! Enjoyable visit, all things considered, I guess (damn you Marmol!)

And how about those cleats worn by Bench. I mean, they looked like something out of the 50s!

I was really shocked at how old and worn out they looked.

Glad you had a good visit! My first job out of college was at a radio station in Marietta, Ohio, and I had to run the board and plug in commercials on a LOT of Reds games in the late 70’s. It was still the Big Red Machine era and I got used to hearing Marty Brenneman and Joe Nuxhall cover the games. Got to see one game at the old Riverfront Stadium. Thanks for bringing back some memories!

I remember Riverfront of course, but I was never there. The guy I sat next to at the game was a season ticket holder there, it held great memories for him, but he prefers GA Ballpark.

Great post! Thanks for the recap of your trip there, agreed the Reds Hall is an awesome destination there. Made you our No. 1 panel on http://MLB.com/blogs today. Keep up the great blogging and spread the word…

Thanks Mark. It was a fun trip. I really like the new feature of MLB Videos. Thanks for that and thanks for putting me on the front page.

Thanks for stopping in at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. We’ve found that when the Cubs come to town, the Hall is full of blue shirts.

Great post! Great pictures! I still got to visit this park. I was going to say “only five hours and you have never been there?” but I had to smile ’cause I have never been to Oakland (stadium) :-) but I am planning on going this year since the Dodgers will play there. I guess is about 6 to 6.5 hours there from my place.

Thanks Emma. I know what you mean, after the trip I asked myself why I had never done it before. It was fun and I will be doing it again in the future.

~Russel

Great stuff Russell, I have always enjoyed going to Cincinnati to see the Cubs play, try to do it every summer.
– George

http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com/

Thanks George. It was a fun trip that I will definitely do again. And thanks for the kind words and link from your blog to mine. I enjoy going to your site, you do a farrrrr better job covering the Cubs on a day to day basis than I do. Thanks again.

~Russel

Thanks Russel I greatly appreciate it. Anytime bud, I really like your blog, I love the who should have won posts. Looking at the new metrics as in how they relate to the older era’s of baseball is great.

It’s a solid trip for sure, I remember the last time we went we drove down and saw two games, Saturday night and sunday afternoon. Bleacher tickets were super cheap and it’s a nice field. Thanks again Russel, keep up the great work.

– George

Pingback: Cubs Blogs Standing Out « Born on Third

This is the best baseball blog I have ever read. The post reminded me of the time I saw the Reds play in the old Houston Astrodome in 1969. I bought a coin that was commemorating the 100th year of the Reds. The Astrodome was leaking that night and I remember seeing people using their umbrellas inside the dome with it pouring down outside.. Will never forget a home run Lee May hit that night that he hit so far and high, that it seemed to be going into outer space. Astros won on a walkoff home run by Keith Lampard which was his first and last major league home run in 62 major league games. Saw four Hall of Famers in the game, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan was still playing for the Astros that night.

Thanks.

Bench was my favorite player as a kid. I saw him, as well as other members of the Big Red Machine in Wrigley

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