BY JOHN ERARDI
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Baseball has been an integral part of the Cincinnati scene since the first ballpark was built here in 1867. Following are the professional baseball parks that have come to symbolize the city over those 131 years.
UNION GROUNDS: 1869-1870
Team: Cincinnati Red Stockings (1869 and 1870)|
Location: Hopkins and McLean Ave., West End.
Club owners: Cincinnati Reds Base Ball Club
Year Built: 1867
Distinctive look: Foul poles with streamers marked the foul lines about 150 feet beyond the bases
Seating capacity: 4,000 (by 1869)
Claim to Fame: Home of first-ever professional sports team in U.S.
Admission: This was the first time Cincinnati fans paid a fee to watch baseball. Tickets, 25 cents and 50 cents.
Features: Cupola-capped grandstand (called the Grand Duchess) included a high platform from which Zouave Band played; double-gated entrance, through which the home and visiting team's horse-drawn "omnibuses" could enter the ballpark.
Ballpark "scene": The team's red stockings were all the rage, so it was commonplace for spectator areas to be awash in red - handkerchiefs and scarves fluttering, parasols waving, hats flying in the air.
What was nearby: Next door, to the east, was Lincoln Park
Best player: Shortstop George Wright
What's there now: Esplanade Fountain and a portion of the parking lot of the Museum Center at Cincinnati Union Terminal
AVENUE GROUNDS: 1876-79
Team: Cincinnati Reds (1876-79)|
Also known as: Brighton Park, Cincinnati Baseball Park
Location: North of Hopple at Spring Grove, between the Mill Creek (to the west) and railroad tracks (to east). Just north of the stockyards, next to three pork packers.
League: National League (charter member)
Club owners: Meat packers George and Josiah Keck
Year Built: 1875
Admission: 50 cents; 10-cent seats after fifth inning
Special section: The "Little Dukes," for those who wanted to sit near the bar.
Claim to Fame: Held first Major League Ladies Day (1876).
Cuisine & Libations: Hard-boiled eggs, ham sandwiches, mineral water; lemon peel-and-water drinks (10 cents).
Best player: Pitcher Will White
What was nearby: The recently completed Cincinnati Workhouse (jail)
What's there now: Hilshire Farms & Kahn's
BANK STREET GROUNDS: 1880, 82, 83|
Team: Cincinnati Reds, 1880; 1882, 1883|
League: National League in 1880; American Association, 1882-83
Location: Bank and Western
Formerly: A vacant lot where the circus and Wild West shows played
What was nearby: Immediately to north was G.K. Mills Distillery
Cuisine & Libations: Beer (even on Sunday, much to the chagrin of the National League; Cincinnati was expelled from NL before the 1881 season because the Reds refused to cease selling beer and renting the park for Sunday baseball). Reds resumed play here in 1882 in the American Association with Sunday baseball and liquor in the park.
Admission: 50 cents in 1880; 25 cents in 1882, 1883
Best player: Third baseman Charles Jones
Club owner: Aaron Stern, a clothing merchant
In 1884: The Outlaw Reds of the Union Association signed a lease to play at Bank Street Grounds and ousted the real Reds. The outlaw Reds renamed the field Union Park and survived only one year.
Best player at Union Park: Pitcher Jim McCormick
What's there now: Parking lot of SORTA/Queen City Metro
LEAGUE PARK: 1884-1901|
Team: Cincinnati Reds, 1884-1901|
League: American Association in 1884-89; returned to NL, 1890
Location: Findlay and Western, on site of an abandoned brickyard.
Feature: The "terrace," an incline that later served as the warning track in left field, was a natural feature of the site. Before the ballpark was built, the incline was the way pedestrians walked from York Street down into the brickyard.
Field: "Skin" infield (all dirt, no grass).
Claim to Fame: This site would be home to the Reds for the next 86 years, through June 24, 1970.
Firsts: In 1893, it was the site of the first ballpark wedding. Groundskeeper Louis Rapp wed Rosie Smith. Cannons boomed. Fans bought Rapp-Smith an ice box. Reds club brought them a parlor set. A waiter named "Cheese" Glozier donated a large hunk of limburger.
Best player: Second baseman Bid Mcphee
PENDLETON PARK: 1891
Team: The American Association "Reds" (not the real Reds), 1891|
League: American Association
Location: Foot of Delta Avenue, along the Ohio River
Transportation: The steamboat, "Music," left foot of Walnut Street every game day at 2 p.m.; the Pennsylvania Railroad ran just back of the main entrance
Claim to fame: Everybody on the Cincinnati and Louisville teams was arrested following the April 26, 1891 game. And everybody was arrested again on May 4 (Philadelphia) and June 7 (Washington) because these were all Sundays - and the city had outlawed Sunday baseball.
Best player: Outfielder/catcher King Kelly
What's there now: Schmidt Play Field
PALACE OF THE FANS AT LEAGUE PARK: 1902-1911|
Team: Cincinnati Reds, 1902-1911|
Location: Findlay & Western
Claim to fame: It was the second major-league grandstand built of concrete and iron. Twenty-two corinthian columns, with elaborate detailing at the top, supported the roof. There were 19 "fashion boxes" (nine on either side of home plate and one directly behind it) that ringed the grandstand like opera boxes. "Rooters' Row" on field level beneath the center fashion box was separated from the players only by a three-foot wooden wall and four feet of chicken wire rising above it.
Seating capacity: 6,000.
Cuisine & Libations: Refreshment areas had ham sandwiches, fat links of German sausages, lemonade ("to cool the inner man") and cold beer. These drinks, as well as candy and pretzels, were hawked by walking vendors throughout the stands. In Rooters' Row, you could get 12 glasses of beer for a dollar.
Club owner: John Brush, an Indianapolis clothing store magnate.
Best player: Rightfielder Sam (Wahoo) Crawford, 1899-1902.
REDLAND FIELD: 1912-1933
Team: Cincinnati Reds, 1912-33|
Also: The Cuban Stars of the Negro National League (1921)
Location: Findlay & Western
Why built: Because the "Palace of the Fans" was long on looks but short on seats (the fewest in the majors).
Claim to fame: Site of the 1919 World Series, won by the Reds and "thrown" by the Chicago Black Sox.
Dimensions: Spacious. 360 feet down the lines; 420 to center.
Seating capacity: 20,000
Monumental: Nine seasons passed before somebody (shortstop John Beckwith of the Chicago team of the Negro National League and Reds outfielder Pat Duncan) hit an over-the-fence home run.
Groundskeeper: Matty Schwab, regarded as one of the best, if not the best, in baseball. Ballpark superintendent for 60 years (1903-63) and served as a groundskeeper for nine years before that. Saw one park burn and four different parks built, all at Findlay and Western.
Best player: Centerfielder Edd Roush
CROSLEY FIELD: 1934-1970
Team: Cincinnati Reds, 1934 - July 24, 1970|
Also: The Cincinnati Tigers (1937) and the Cincinnati Clowns (1943-46) of the Negro American League
Location: Findlay & Western (same site, structure, layout as Redland Field).
Owner: Powel Crosley. radio manufacturer (his plant was a few blocks north of Redland Field)
Changes: In 1934, a new, large scoreboard with art-deco influences graced the outfield wall in left-center. It was replaced by a 58-foot high scoreboard in 1957. In 1939, the Reds added an upper deck to each pavilion, increasing seating capacity by 3,000 to 29,401. In the 1940s and 1950s, the "Goat Run" seating area was added in front of the right-field bleachers, which was known as the Sun Deck.
Claim to fame: Major leagues' first night game, May 24, 1935.
Features: "Superior Towel & Linen Service" sign on laundry behind left-field wall; Siebler suit sign ("Hit this sign, win a suit") and the mechanical walking man of Young & Bertke.
Best player: Outfielder/first baseman Frank Robinson
What's there now: Queensgate North Industrial Park
RIVERFRONT STADIUM/CINERGY FIELD: 1970- Present|
Team: Cincinnati Reds, June 30, 1970|
Claim to Fame: First ballpark with an all-Astroturf infield with dirt only in the batter's box, pitcher's mound and sliding pits around the bases.
Monumental: There have been 22 red-seat (upper deck) home runs.
Has hosted: Five World Series.
Great Moments: Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb's all-time hit record; Johnny Bench homers off Dave Giusti in '72 playoffs vs. Pirates; Pete Rose collides with Ray Fosse in '70 All-Star game; Tom Browning's perfect game; Hank Aaron's 714th home run; Bench homers and throws out would-be basestealer on retirement night; Ed Armbrister's no-interference call with Carlton Fisk, Game 3, 1975 World Series; Rose's return as player-manager (tripled and head-first slide on first at-bat).
Owners: 617, Inc.; Louis Nippert; Williams brothers; Marge Schott
Best player: Catcher Johnny Bench