I know it’s silly to miss the “cookie cutter” era of baseball stadiums, but I grew up with Riverfront Stadium, fell in love with baseball at Riverfront Stadium, and I long for the innocence I experienced at Riverfront Stadium. Fortunately, we have baseball cards like this one…
There is Tom Browning, tipping his cap to the crowd, celebrating the first perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history. I’m guessing this was a staged shot, since you can see Luis Quinones warming up n the background. But it’s still a nice card, and you can see a bit of Riverfront Stadium behind Mr. Perfect.
And then there is this card…
Chris Hammond never amounted to much with the Reds, but you can clearly see a couple of the different colored seats behind him. The lowest level, barely visible here because there were few in the outfield, were blue seats. Then there were green seats, which are nearly filled behind Hammond. Above are yellow, and then the cheapo seats, the red seats. The least expensive seats in the park were the “Top 6” rows of the red section. I remember only cost $3.50 per ticket, but even the more expensive seats were reasonable. I don’t think they had $2500 seats back in those pure times.
I miss Riverfront Stadium so much I mistakenly, absent-mindedly call the Reds’ current home Riverfront sometimes. I know it’s Great American Ballpark. But I prefer Riverfront. And I always will.
On June 30, 1970, Riverfront Stadium opened in Cincinnati. It was the first major league stadium I ever visited, and I visited many times over the years.
I have three very fond memories of Riverfront Stadium. The first is from either 1987, when the team allowed fans to come onto the field before the game and greet players. I never got close enough to the rope line to shake hands with anyone, but I knew that it was a privilege to be able to walk on the Astroturf.
The second special memory was the All-Star game in 1988…or more specifically, the workout the day before. My brother-in-law secured tickets and took me to the park, but it started raining and the players did not get to participate in the Home Run Derby or other activities they had planned. We sneaked passed the security guards to the “blue seats,” and got to go down near the dugouts. I didn’t have a pen with me or anything to get signed, but I did get to shake Astros pitcher Bob Knepper‘s hand.
My final special memory of Riverfront Stadium also occurred in 1988. I had spoken to rookie Chris Sabo on the telephone for a sixth grade project (that’s a whole ‘nother story!), and he was such a down-to-earth guy. He told me that he still drove his Ford Escort and his favorite team growing up was the Detroit Tigers. He especially liked watching Al Kaline play. And then he offered me tickets to a game as his guest. So for one game in 1988, I got to sit with the players’ wives in the blue seats…no sneaking past security guards!
So happy birthday, Riverfront Stadium. You provided some pretty fantastic memories for me as a young Reds fan in the 1980s. Great American Ballpark is pretty fantastic, but I really miss old Riverfront.