On the 30th of June 1970, exactly six years to the day prior to the birth of yours truly, the Cincinnati Reds began the era of plastic grass in the Queen City. The Reds left behind their home of 68 years, Crosley nee Redland Field; and moved from a location where the Cincinnati ball club had played since Chester A. Arthur sat in the Oval Office (that's over 86 years if you don't know your Presidents.) The great cookie cutter, ash tray, two sport venue that was so haute couture at the time sat beautifully along the banks of the Ohio, it's graceful curves and undulating concourses mimicking the waves of the passing river. Riverfront Stadium. It hosted it's first of two All-Star games just 2 weeks after opening, attended by none other than President Dick Nixon. As with Dick the years were unkind to Riverfront, as decades went by it fell from favor and after just 32 years, less than half the life of it's predecessor, it all came to end. From the outfielders who smashed into it's hard walls, or the countless players who's knees would never be the same to all who had to endure those blistering 140 degree summer days on it's turf; many said the end came none to soon. After recently re-watching the classic Reds rewind of Barry Larkin's walk-off double from May 7, 1999's titanic struggle against the Cubbies, I grew reminiscent about what was at that time called Cinergy Field, though it will always be Riverfront to me.
Riverfront Stadium is where I first saw a professional baseball game. I remember well being a young boy, wearing my Joe Morgan #8 replica jersey, attending many a kid glove game. Cheering on John Franco-Amercian and Mario Soto. Man, I loved Mario Soto. Scaling the impossible heights of "red seats", which must have sat a 72 degree angle, to get to the top six section. In fact I still refer to seats in GABP, where the seats are all red, as either red, for the nose bleeds or blue for lower level. I don't, however refer to any seats as the greens and the yellows, but I guess maybe I will. Ah the green the seats. It seems so weird to think of it now but I remember first coming into GABP and thinking how strange it felt to come in at field level. You didn't have to sneak down to the blues. Or get an autograph pass to go down and sneak around and try to stay down there when the game started. And the yellows or the old timer seats we used to call them, because they were padded so the crusty old farts wouldn't hurt their hemorrhoids. I remember how dirty and low and dark and dank it was behind the blue seats behind home plate. And how the sections there would tower above you. There were two sections one on each side, top of the blues, parallel to the end of each dugout and if you extended the foul lines into the stands. Little, triangle sections, if you were sitting there, on the end of the row not the aisle side it was like a 18 foot drop. I loved those seats. And the huge expanse of seats behind each dugout. At GABP it goes to like row YY or something but at Riverfront it was just gigantic, at least it seemed that way. You came out of the tunnel in the middle of the section and it was what seemed like 35 rows to field in front of you and 35 rows behind you. The yellow line behind sections, you could smoke behind the yellow line, those were the days. Stand there, drink a beer, smoke a cigarette or a cigar and watch the ballgame. It was all OK as long as you were behind that yellow line.
Man I don't know I really started to ramble there and I could probably go on and on and on. But my beer is empty and as the years go on I'll probably forget more than I care to remember but when I think of baseball the first place my mind'll go, love it or hate it, will always be Riverfront.