Over the course of professional sports history, fans have been an intricate part of team success. The Seattle Seahawks and Texas A&M University’s 12th man comes to mind. As does the retirement of the #6 by both the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings of the NBA in honor of their fans.
Therefore, due to 25 men filling up a baseball roster, it is time we honor the fans of Cincinnati for their significant contributions.
I’m willing to place a hefty bet that anyone who ever attended a game at Bank Street Grounds is no longer with us, as that was where the Reds played their home games from 1882-1883. For the next three decades, the team played at League Park I, II and III, before moving into Crosley (Redland) Field in 1912.
For those of the younger generation such as myself, the most accurate representation I can depict of Crosley Field are a few rare color photos and video game assumptions about what the park looked like. I’m sure there are many still living in the Cincinnati area who attended games at Crosley, and hopefully even some of you reading did. From what I can connect the dots with, it was a great, old-fashioned looking stadium.
Like so many other franchises during that time, the Reds were caught up in the phase of making multiple uses of their ballpark. It served as not only the football gridiron, but also the baseball diamond. The “cookie-cutter” stayed around into the 21st century until the Reds broke ground on the beautiful Great American Ball Park fans get to flock to today.
Baseball is a cyclical game. No franchise can reign supreme over the rest of the sport forever, although some teams cycles can take longer to break out of than others. (The Pirates anyone?) That is the partial level of insanity of a baseball fan. There never will be a Major League club to go 162-0, yet we root and cheer as if winning every game is obtainable. The Reds have put some real stinkers out there through their first 144 years, and their sure to do it again in the next 144, but yet we root and holler because in baseball, who you support isn’t so much your personal preference; it’s who you are at your core.
For most fans, fandom is based on geography. When I was a young whipper snapper, I remember watching the Yankees day in, day out because that was where I was located. I came from a house that was extremely pro-Ken Griffey Jr. and the Reds, so when the two combined into one, my days of watching the Yankees were all but over.
Fans come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are devoted fans that would not miss a game for their child’s birth and other sit in their comfortable chair in their lounge playing Candy Crush while the game is on. The background noise of baseball being played is nearly as soothing as listening to a whale’s song or the breeze fluttering over the brim of the ocean. In my opinion, Thom Brennaman is one of the finest broadcasters in the business today, and when he’s on the air, the mood in a room lifts along with the game.
There was an interesting proposal pitched on a radio show when Roy Halladay was initially ready to become a free agent and was at the peak of his pitching prowess a few years ago. The talk show host figured out how much each individual fan would have to send to the team in order for them to sign the player, with no money out of pocket for the organization. Surprisingly, the sum was something under a hundred dollars. Now, not many of us have extra Benjamin Franklin’s laying around in our couch cushions, but the idea may not be so far-fetched. With that same hundred dollars, one could probably take their family of four to two games, with dinner and drink included. Or, you could buy your franchise a top-level free agent. That right there, may be the future of fandom.
On message boards all over the internet, we spew venom and hatred when on a day game in April and May, there are only 15,000 people at the ballpark. There is no question that Great American is a top-notch venue and the Reds are putting a hell of a product on the field, so where is the discord? If I lived in the greater Cincinnati area, virtually nothing would stop me from attending at least 75 home games, although I understand that people have financial restrictions, and ya know, lives.
I don’t doubt for a moment the loyalty of Reds fans in not only the Midwest, but all around the country. Joey Votto is one of the most likeable megastars in any sports recent history, regardless of his RBI count. His humility and the struggles he has overcome will always be more important than his on-base percentage, and maybe most importantly; he will be a Cincinnati Red for life in an age where players jump ship at the turn of a hat, or the slip of a paycheck.
So, I ask, what is it that has driven so many away? Some have been as brash to say that it has been because Dusty Baker was at the helm. I certainly understood that ten years ago when the bullpen was comprised of part-time Home Depot employees no one wanted to attend. Now though, these things are behind us. Bryan Price has been issued in like “The Dark Knight” and a jolt of the best speed in 20 years has been injected into the roster with Billy Hamilton. This core cannot remain together much longer financially, and like even the Big Red Machine, all good things must come to an end eventually. Baseball is a cyclical game.
On the topic of fans, I would also like to issue a sincere thank you to everyone who has continued to read the work we have produced over these past few months. It has understandably been a slow off-season for the Reds, and we have done our best to keep you entertained and coming back on a daily basis. With myself taking over as editor, there are many kinks I’m still working out, but am fully committed to this site, and making the reading experience for you the best it possibly can be.
With that being said, we encourage you to let us know how to improve. What you like, what you don’t like. You can find us on Twitter at @BlogRedMachine, or we’re always just a comment away here on the site.
Again, it is our pleasure to be able to have a forum to write for all of you and give you a unique form of entertainment. Reds fans truly are the best in the game. Go Reds!