2014 Reds

A Look at Old Crosley

Forty-four years ago yesterday, the Reds played their last game at Crosley Field. Crosley was actually the third Reds ballpark at the corner of Findlay and Western, capping the club’s 86+ season run at the site. Here, from deep in the RLN Photo Vault, are some looks at Crosley Field. Here’s a shot of the demolition of the Palace of the Fans, the Reds ballpark from 1902-11. Incredibly, the Palace was demolished and Crosley erected in the same location between October 11. 1911 and April 11, 1912 (the same month that the Titanic sank and Fenway Park opened).

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

This rare video was unearthed (literally) in remote Canada, and shows the 1919 World Series, including an shot of the ballpark from an “aero-cameraman” in a biplane. Here’s a shot of Reds fans lined up for tickets to the 1939 World Series.

This is Matty Schwab, Sr. He was on the Reds ground crew from 1894 (assisting his father) through 1963, and laid the original sod at Crosley. He’s also credited with inventing the modern base design, drainage systems, and several major league scoreboards. Schwab and Bernie Stowe (who worked together for 17 seasons) created a direct link to 120 years of Reds history. I can’t imagine any other organization stretching back that far, with just two employees.

This aerial shot shows how the construction of I-75 tore up the neighborhood around Crosley, but also shows how limited the park was in terms of seating capacity and parking.

 

The famous scoreboard from the ’60s…

  …and today, where it lives on at a youth baseball complex in Blue Ash, Ohio.

 

Here’s a great color shot from August 1969.   Edited:  Inexplicably, the night week before the Reds last game in Crosley, the ballpark hosted a show by Iggy Pop and the Stooges. [Note: Further research indicates that the Iggy Pop concert was actually on June 13, not June 23. (Getty Images' captions are notoriously inaccurate about dates.) Apparently, it was a rock festival, also including Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, and Mountain. To prevent damage to the infield, concert-goers were required to stay on the dirt basepaths. I can't even imagine.]

Here are Johnny Bench and Wayne Granger celebrating the Reds’ win in the final ballgame at Crosley.

And here are the 1970 Reds leaving Crosley Field for the last time.

17 thoughts on “A Look at Old Crosley

    • Great pictures!! I was so happy to see the scoreboard of the 60s! My Dad was an Executive at Pontiac in Cincinnati in the 1960s and was instrumental getting the Pontiac on the scoreboard! Reason of course: The TV cameras always focused on the scoreboard!! He also provided Pontiacs to Reds management, and later to the White Sox, after he left Cincinnati, and the Astros, after leaving Chicago. Such great “mem’ries”!! Thanks.

  1. The Reds HOF Museum still puts on tours of the Crosley Field site.

    I took my grandfather on a tour last year and had a really good time. Obviously, you need to bring a good imagination, but the tour guide was an excellent storyteller, and the older Reds fans that supplemented his tour with their personal stories were fun to listen to.

  2. Updated: Turns out the Iggy Pop concert was 10 days earlier than originally reported. Still crazy.

  3. Crosley Field also was the site of a live performance by the Beatles in 1966… the sixth-to-last live concert they ever gave (not counting the rooftop concert in London).

  4. I guess because I saw so many games at Crosley Field when I was young that the new ballparks don’t have the warmth and intimacy that Crosley had. And also the old ballpark set in a neighborhood where people lived and struggled to make ends meet.

  5. I have four seats from Riverfront and love the memories they represent, even though I’ve never lived close to Cincinnati. But Crosley was obviously an old school park with so much more character, much like Fenway where I saw so many games in college. Thanks for this stroll through history Chris. And I’m definitely going to take that tour the next time I’m in town for Reds games – I didn’t even know there was one.

  6. I have some good baseball memories of Crosley Field; but my fondest memories of it are as just special place. In the days before the deconstruction of the old neighborhood to make way for what is now known as I-75, a person could sit in the grandstand snuggled in a natural bowl created by the surrounding green hills and without care or concern watch life go by on the outside as the timeless game of baseball played out inside the park.

    Near the top of one of the hills were several large brick houses, mansions surely, to the small town kid sitting in the Crosley grandstand looking up at them. Which of the famous people on radio or TV lived there, I wondered. While I pondered whether a person could sit on the front stoop of one of these houses and aided by binoculars, take in the Reds game, as if by magic the garage door of one of the houses opened. A car emerged and began to wind itself down the hill toward a multi tiered concrete structure filled with moving cars which I instinctively knew had to the Western Hills Viaduct which up till now I only heard about with much wonder. About this time, I found myself pulled back into the ballpark by the realization that the the home plate umpire seemed to be looking and pointing directly at me as I sat some 20 rows back in the stands. How could he have guessed I’d let my attention wander so; was I in trouble? Would I be ejected from the park? . Or was he just calling another of the 150 or so strikes that happened that day on the field?

    • Having indulged myself, baseball memories of Crosley……

      Roberto Clemente using the concrete foundation to get a foothold and climbing up the right field fence in pursuit of a fly ball. I do not specifically remember that he was successful in hauling the ball in for an out; but, he must have been because from that day forward he was my #1 anti hero, the guy I “hated” yet wished that some morning I would pick up the Enquirer and read that by a miracle he had become a Red.

      I was in attendance at the game of 2 October 1964 and saw the triple play pulled against the Reds by the Phillies. Also there was the little blooper over 2nd that surely either Pete or Little Leo would catch to end the troublesome inning. It looked like either could get it; but neither did. As we filed to the car,despite the fact the Reds could do no worse than a tie if they won their remaining game, I could not fight through the feelings that I had just watched the Reds lose the pennant, I had turned 15 several months earlier. If much innocence remained about me, that night probably drained it.

  7. Thanks so much for these photos and memories!!! This is truly a fun Reds website.

    I didn’t get hooked on baseball until early in the Riverfront years, but I know was at a few Crosley games as a tike…..

  8. It’s not just the construction of I-75 which decimated the area around the ballpark. The caption for the aerial photo talks about limited parking. Keep in mind that most of the lots in the shot were row houses (like in the upper right) prior to the (I believe) mid 50’s. Imagine the ballpark in a sea of row houses.

    Nor was It the parking lots directly which killed the area. It was post-war suburbanization. That drew the populace out of those very homes. In order for them to get back to Crosley they now needed those highways. And in order to dump their transport somewhere, they needed those lots. Those highways and lots eventually strangled the ballpark. Ironic.

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