The weather outside is frightful.
But the baseball will be delightful.
It’s been said that Opening Day is like Christmas in Cincinnati. The pageantry, the parades and the festive atmosphere are all a part of this unofficial holiday. Sometimes, even the weather has a Christmas feel. Mother Nature has been known to throw a curveball or two for the season opener. And every now and then, she’ll deliver a knuckleball.
There’s been rain, wind, sleet, and even snow.
On April 8, 1985, Cincinnati had all of the above.
Eight months earlier, in August of 1984, Pete Rose made his stunning return to Cincinnati as the new player/manager. With the return of Rose and his quest for the all-time hit record, as well as few young stars in the making, the Reds and their fans were chomping at the bit for the 1985 baseball season to begin.
The forecast for that day called for rain, a chance of snow, gusty winds and even some occasional sleet. And if the 52,971 fans at Riverfront Stadium were lucky, they’d get a glimpse of sunshine. As Reds owner Marge Schott and baseball commissioner Peter Uberroth walked to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch, the thermometer read a brisk 39 degrees with wind chills in the 20s.
After two snow delays, and with many fans heading for the exits, the Reds would break the scoreless tie in the 5th when Pete Rose doubled home Mario Soto and Eric Davis. Dave Parker followed with a single, scoring Rose and the Reds took the lead 3-0. Rose tacked on another insurance run with an RBI single in the 7th and the frigid fans remaining celebrated a 4-1 Reds season opening victory.
As damp, dreary and cold as the 1985 opener was, it wasn’t the coldest on record. In the 1901 opening game, the temps hovered around the freezing mark for most of the game topping out at 35 degrees. In fact, it was so cold and windy that the parade was cancelled. And if the weather wasn’t miserable enough, the Reds lost to the Pirates 4-2.
The 4,800 fans in 1901 must have longed for the 1896 opener. That day brought 86 degrees, the warmest opening game on record. Unfortunately for the Reds and the 5,460, the Pirates were as hot as the weather and they cruised to a 9-1 victory.
So what is the average temperature on Opening Day in Cincinnati since the first in 1882? A comfortable 57 degrees at game time.
And Opening Day games in which the Reds would go on to win the World Series? A pleasant 62 degrees.
So if you are going to the big game this year, bring a jacket, a parka, sunscreen, an umbrella and perhaps even snow boats.
Because you just never know when Mother Nature will break out her knuckleball.