Pete Rose’s 4,192nd base hit. Hank Aaron’s 714th home run. Three World Series Rings. The Big Red Machine of the 1970s, numbers 5, 8, 13, 24, 13 and who can forget 14, all of which should be in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
32 years of history can not be possibly sewn up in a few moments; however, some of the best moments in Cincinnati Reds history should be remembered one more time before the move to Great American Ballpark.
As a child growing up in Northern Kentucky, I spent most of my childhood and much of my time as a young adult attending the games at Riverfont Stadium, later known as Cinergy Field. I have had the pleasure of seeing many great moments in Reds history as well as lived through many other fine moments.
The stadium opened in the middle of the 1970 season and has hosted two All-star games. One of the most defining moments in All-star game history was during the 1970 World Series when Cincinnati’s hero, Pete Rose, ran over Cleveland catcher, Ray Fosse on a play at the plate to end the game and give the victory to the National League.
Sept. 11, 1985 will go down in Reds history as one of the most memorable moments in Cinergy Field history. On this night, with light bulbs flashing in a game against the San Diego Padres, Pete Rose became the All-time hit leader by slapping a single to left-center field in the bottom of the first inning for hit number 4,192.
Tom Browning, the local Reds pitcher, pitched the only perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history on Sept. 16, 1988. Browning matched up against their National League West rivals, Los Angeles Dodgers and won the game 1-0.
A new decade began in 1990, but the tradition of the Reds continued.
The Reds were the first team in history to accomplish a wire-to-wire championship. Everyone thought the World Series would be over in four games. It surely was over in four games, but with the Reds on top bringing the only World Series victory to Cincinnati in my lifetime.
Who could forget Lou Pinella, the best manager of the Cincinnati Reds in my lifetime, forgetting that first base was not the ball and throwing it into right field during a dispute with the umpire. Pinella also had several other memorable moments including kicking dirt on home plate because of another disagreement with the home plate umpire.
Do you remember the locker room brawl between Lou Pinella and Rob Dibble? This was not one of the finer moments in the 1990s.
Opening Day has become an unofficial holiday in Cincinnati, but one of the darkest Opening Days in Cinergy Field history came on Apr. 1, 1996. Just seven pitches into the game, home plate umpire, John McSherry collapsed on the field and later died.
Later in 1996, the Reds finally gave proper due to several members of Reds past by retiring the numbers of Johnny Bench and Fred Hutchinson. The numbers of Tony Perez, Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson followed these numbers over the next few years.
The new millennium had started off to a bang with the trade for Ken Griffey, Jr. in February. The bang has become a thud, as the Reds have not been able to acquire the right amount of pitching in order to put together a winning team for the fans of Cincinnati.
Now that we have reached an end of an era, we will only have our memories of Bench, Perez, Morgan, Concepcion, Geronimo, Foster and Rose. Along with the memories of Hank Aaron tying Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, Pete Rose and his 44-game hit streak and 4,192 hits that it took to become the “Hit King,” we can remember the back-to-back-to-back homers provided by Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin and Eric Davis and a stadium that closed out its life with a softball game starring Pete Rose at Cinergy Field.
General Manager, Jim Bowden once said that the team was playing to win in 2003 when they move into the new ballpark. Now that we close the books on Cinergy Field, it is time to see if Great American Ballpark can produce even some of the great moments that Riverfront Stadium has provided us over the past 32 years. As former manager Sparky Anderson said after the final game, “They can tear it down, but they can’t take it away from me. I’ll never forget.”