By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
After a prolonged pregame ceremony under gray skies, the sun broke through the clouds Monday afternoon just in time for the first pitch at Great American Ball Park.
Reds starting pitcher Jimmy Haynes christened the ballpark with a first-pitch strike to Pittsburgh's Kenny Lofton at 4:11 p.m.
The game went downhill from there. The Pirates scored six runs in the second inning and won 10-1.
"Coming in, being the first guy to throw the first pitch in a new park, it's definitely an honor," Haynes said. "It would been even better if I had come out of here with a win today."
The first pitch in Cincinnati's new riverfront ballpark capped an effort that began seven years and 12 days ago when Hamilton County voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase. And throughout the park, the 42,343 fans - a sellout crowd - celebrated the grand opening.
"I love it," said Melody Schroeder of Green Township. She sat next to her husband, Robert, and his two adult sons, Brian and Jeff.
The family had four seats in Section 420, high above home plate on the third-base side. The sticks of their miniature U.S. flags shared their cup holders with drinks. Beyond the right-field bleachers, a small boat bobbed in the waters of the Ohio River.
"It makes you realize how lucky you are to be home in Cincinnati," said the former Los Angeles Dodgers fan from Silicon Valley, Calif. "I don't think locals realize what a world-class city this is."
Schroeder is a converted Reds fan. U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Greene County native, is a lifelong Reds follower.
DeWine sat in Section 118, behind the Pirates' dugout with friends he has known since 1973. The senator has season tickets in Section 418, the lower level of the top deck between third and home.
"I love baseball, and I love the Reds," DeWine said when Haynes threw the first pitch. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long, long time."
Even fans watching from outside the ballpark were caught up in the moment.
Out in deep left-center field, two levels above the Reds' bullpen and behind a tall fence, Scott Neese of Mason stood with daughters Allison, 9, and Hannah, 4.
Neese is going to count this Reds Opening Day as his 17th in a row - even though he didn't buy a ticket.
In Section 125, Jan Dailey, 49, of Middletown leaned forward and snapped her disposable camera when Haynes fired the first pitch.
"I'm a little worried about (the Reds), but I always have faith," Dailey said. "Their pitching worries me."
Cindi Andrews, John Byczkowski and Howard Wilkinson contributed.
Game: March 31, 2003, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Pitch: A called strike from Reds right-hander Jimmy Haynes to Pittsburgh center fielder Kenny Lofton
Reds batter: Barry Larkin
Hit: Double down the right-field line by Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. in the bottom of the first inning
First opponent's hit: Double to right center field by Pirates first baseman Randall Simon in top of the second inning
Run: Pirate Randall Simon
Reds run: Haynes
Single: Pirate Pokey Reese to center field in the top of the second inning
Double: Griffey Jr. down the right-field line in the bottom of the first inning
Home run: Pirate Reggie Sanders in second inning
Reds RBI: Austin Kearns on a bases-loaded walk with two out in the bottom of the third inning
Error: Pirates second baseman Reese with one out in the bottom of the third inning
Strikeout: Kearns, swinging in bottom of first inning
Walk: Pirate Kris Benson
Winning pitcher: Benson
Losing pitcher: Haynes
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