Reds - General

The Life of a Reds Fan: Just…Wow.

(Ed: You may have noticed that we have featured a few new contributors over the last month or two. Today, we are finally getting around to publishing the latest from another newcomer. We’re happy to welcome Kyle Burch to the fold.)

The way I remember it, the Cincinnati Reds have always been a part of my life. Growing up in Northern Kentucky, the summers annually revolved around being a Reds fan. Whether it be listening to Marty and Joe, squabbling with my Dad and brothers over what moves should or shouldn’t have been made by the manager or spending a night at the ballpark, the Reds were a constant throughout my childhood and teenage years.

The team would become even more of a presence in my life during my early adult years. While in college I secured a part-time job working as a member of the grounds crew for the Reds, a position I held for nine seasons. For nearly a decade, I was fortunate to be at field level for some great games and at sometimes fingertips-length with some of my idols.  I’ve witnessed Ken Griffey Jr. chasing history, going after his 500th and 600th career home runs. I’ve been able to meet seven of the great eight from the Big Red Machine, minus Cesar Geronimo. I even made sure I was the last person to lay down the chalk lines at Cinergy/Riverfront Stadium and the first to do so at Great American Ballpark. I’ve seen the debuts of Homer Bailey, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Adam Dunn. I’ve also gotten to see the curtain calls for Barry Larkin, Sean Casey and Riverfront Stadium.

Two years ago, I moved away from the Cincinnati area for the first time in my life, but I’ve held strong to my Reds fandom (as my fiancée can attest), following each and every game through MLB.TV and making as many trips back home to GABP as possible. As frustrating as it is sometimes, I still love being a Reds fan.

The sport of baseball requires a certain patience. A season plays out over 162 games, nearly seven months of what can at times be painstaking aggravation  For all of the nights of going 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position, there are those days where being a Reds fan is just….Wow! These are the little moments that drive us to loyalty. It might be a game you attended as a child, the debut of a promising prospect you’ve heard about for years or even just the memory of sitting in the moondeck on a warm August night. Below, in no particular order, are my top-10 “Just….Wow” moments of being a Cincinnati Reds fan. Feel free to discuss yours in the comments section below.

Adam Dunn Walk-Off Grand Slam -June 30, 2006
For some reason I remember this game like it was yesterday. Well, I remember the last inning like it was yesterday. The Reds were putting together one of their patented seasons of starting out hot, before floundering late and entered the game seven games over .500 in first place at the end of June. After putting up zeros for the first seven innings, the Reds trailed 7-0 going into the bottom of the eighth. The offense put up a four-spot that inning, but after giving up another run in the top of the ninth, trailed 8-4 entering the final frame. The Reds pushed across a run to make it 8-5, but the game still seemed out of reach with one-man on (Brandon Phillips) and two outs. Then, Bob Wickman couldn’t find the zone, walking the fearsome offensive duo of Ryan Freel and Felipe Lopez to load the bases. Dunn ripped the next pitch over the right field wall capping an improbable comeback.

1990 World Series Game Two Victory
There were a few different moments from the only world championship season of my lifetime that I was thinking about, but this stuck out above all the rest. With apologies to Glenn Braggs’ NLCS game-saving catch of Carmelo Martinez’s home run. I wasn’t at the stadium, but the video and Nuxie’s call is burnt into my memory forever. An overmatched Joe Oliver reaching to hit the outside pitch, Umpire Randy Marsh’s fair call, and Billy Bates, an improbable inclusion on the Reds’ postseason roster hustling around third for the victory.

The Return of Prime Time – May 1, 2001 
This one may not stick out to many, but it was a memorable moment for me. After four years out of baseball, the Reds surprisingly signed NFL superstar Deion Sanders and added him to the roster by the time May rolled around. In his first game back, Sanders sparked the Reds to a victory over the Dodgers going 3-for-3 with a home run and a stolen base. It wasn’t as dramatic as some of the other moments on this list, but it was a day that I’ll remember because of the buzz a personality like Deion left around the stadium. 

The Arrival of Ken Griffey Jr. – Feb. 10, 2000
It was a cold, blustery evening in Cincinnati on Feb. 10th 2000, but that didn’t matter, the Reds now had the greatest player in baseball on their roster. Ken Griffey Jr. had been traded to his hometown team from the Mariners and I was among a crowd of hundreds waiting for The Kid to arrive at Lunken. We waited, waited and waited some more, eventually Griffey arrived and those waiting caught a glimpse as he was ushered out in Carl Lindner’s Rolls Royce.   

The Old Lefthander’s Send-off
This Reds memory tugs at my heart strings more than any. Soon after Nuxhall, arguably the most iconic sports figure in the city of Cincinnati, passed away, the showing of support by the Cincinnati community was both overwhelming and uplifting. The touching messages posted on Cincinnati.com message boards measured in the thousands and the seemingly never-ending line at his funeral showed what Nuxhall really meant to the entire tri-state region.

Jose Rijo’s Final Start
This is one of my favorites, because Rijo was one of my favorites. After being out of basesball for six years, Rijo made a miraculous comeback towards the end of 2001 and returned to pitch 31 games in 2002. It was the last season at Riverfront/Cinergy Field and Rijo appeared in 31 games, mostly out of the bullpen. As the season grew closer to the finale, Rijo began politicking for the chance to start the final game and the Reds abided. Although he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, the reception Rijo got from the home crowd was one of the warmest I can remember.

Phillies 1, Reds 0 – July 8, 1988
Not sure why this game sticks out. It is one of the first games I remember attending, at least vividly. Being only seven years old, I did have to look up the exact date. I was sitting with my father in the upper red seats. It was hot, but a nice night. I remember Jose Rijo was dominant. He went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just three hits, one of them a solo shot that just eeked over the centerfield wall by light-hitting Phillies lead-off man Milt Thompson. As a seven-year old, when there isn’t much to dislike, I despised Milt Thompson, at least for a summer.

Jay Bruce Clincher – Sept. 28, 2010
After being a member of the Reds grounds crew for nine years, 2010 was my first year away from the team on a day-by-day basis. So what do they do? Provide probably the most memorable season of my lifetime. I was watching from Chicago when Bruce connected on his walk-off winner and even though I was 300 miles away, the excitement I felt was equal to these guys, sitting just feet away when it happened.

Mark Lewis’ Game 3 Grand Slam
This moment sticks out the most, because I shared it with my Dad and two brothers as we were in the red seats to witness it all. The Reds were up 3-1 they had just knocked Hideo Nomo out of the game in the sixth inning and Hamilton native Mark Lewis, pinch-hitting for Jeff Branson, connected on a grand slam to lock up the victory for the Reds, sweeping the Dodgers. Mayhem broke loose in the nose-bleeds and the brooms came out.

Reds 4, Astros 1 – Sept. 28, 1999
This game stuck out as the high point for me during what was a tremendously heartbreaking season. The young upstart Reds finished off Houston behind a fine pitching performance from Pete Harnisch, who went eight innings, giving up four hits and one run notching his 15th victory of the season. The game was the sixth straight victory for the Reds and put them one game up on the Astros with just three remaining. With the Reds en route to face a struggling Milwaukee team and the Astros heading home to face the Dodgers, I remember thinking all they have to do is win two of three and they are in the playoffs. Three days and a long rain delay later, the Reds had to squeak by the Brewers just to make it to a one-game playoff against the Mets, where Al Leiter became every Reds fan’s worse enemy.

28 thoughts on “The Life of a Reds Fan: Just…Wow.

  1. Nice post. I’d like to add Jay Bruce’s 3-for-3 debut as a game that made me go “Just… Wow”

  2. In terms of just being at the ballpark, I was at GABP for the game where Adam Dunn hit a ball into the river and the game where Greg Maddux took a perfect game through 6 for the Dodgers before a rain delay forced him out of the game. Both were awesome, in very different ways.

  3. In terms of being at the game…I’ve got three:

    This game, which was my first ever playoff game. Probably the best game I’ve ever seen in person…Seaver vs Billingham and Reds win on homers by Rose and one in the 9th by Bench.

    This game and the second game of this DH. Memorable for one thing b/c it was the day I got my driver’s license and two buddies and I headed to the stadium for a twi-night DH against the Giants. Reds scored 5 in the 9th to win the first game….punctuated by a walk off Tony Perez 3 run homer. Game two was a Freddie Norman 5 hit shutout…

    The other is this game, which Kyle mentioned in the piece. The two things I remember about this game was how good Danny Jackson was…and The Catch….which I was pleased to remind Glenn Braggs about recently on FB (I think he got a kick out of being reminded).

    Probably the single biggest Reds moment for me (though I wasn’t at the ballpark, my mom was) was the Bench homer to right field off Dave Giusti in game 5 of the ’72 playoffs…talk about drama. Wow.

    • In terms of being at the game…I’ve got three:This game and the second game of this DH. Memorable for one thing b/c it was the day I got my driver’s license and two buddies and I headed to the stadium for a twi-night DH against the Giants. Reds scored 5 in the 9th to win the first game….punctuated by a walk off Tony Perez 3 run homer. Game two was a Freddie Norman 5 hit shutout…

      Yeah, I remember that Giants’ twinbill, didn’t Bench reach first base on a grounder because the pitcher failed to cover first base, or some such flukey play, and then Perez hit the homer? I was sitting down the right-field line, greet seats I think, and amid the jubilation, my dad tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the press box. I swear Joe Nuxhall was jumping up and down like a little kid. Thanks for the memory reminder!

  4. I’m not sure if this counts, but I was also at the very first Opening Day in GABP, and although the day was actually pretty forgettable otherwise, seeing Reggie Sanders hit the first home run at the park, even if it was for the other team, was pretty cool. He was my favorite player as an 8 year old watching the 1995 team.

  5. As far as being there is concerned, my most memorable moments have been bad: The Cueto meltdown here in Philly a couple years ago, and most of all the Halladay no hitter in the playoff’s last year, my only playoff game ever…

    An interesting thing about the Halladay no hitter was that other baseball fans constantly tell me how great it must have been to be at such a historic game, even though my team lost (which is putting it mildly), but for me it is just impossible to appreciate it. The Reds looked terrible, and from the upper deck I couldn’t see how much Halladay’s pitches were moving. It was awful.

  6. My first baseball memory is Franco striking out Strawberry to close out an amazing game with every fan at Riverfront Stadium chanting Darrrrrryl. Pretty cool for a 5 year old! It’s a pretty vivid memory but I’ve been unable to narrow down the game. It was EITHER July 8, 1986 or July 9, 1986. Franco struck Strawberry out to end both games. 😀

  7. Sept. 17, 1983, my wife and I along with 53,788 other fans bade farewell to Johnny Bench. We said thanks and he thanked all of us by hitting the 2-run dinger. We still have the Enquirer paper and the commemorative certificates. I’ll never forget Johnny being driven around Riverfront in the white caddie. The sound system wasn’t so good and we could barely hear Terry Cashman’s tribute song to JB, “The Queen City has a king….”.

  8. @hoosierdad: I was there that night as well. A very special night for my favorite baseball player of all-time. Jonny Bench made me a Reds fan.

    • @hoosierdad: I was there that night as well. A very special night for my favorite baseball player of all-time. Jonny Bench made me a Reds fan.

      Only problem is, if memory serves, the evening did not have a happy ending as the Reds lost, right?

  9. @Y-City Jim: My wife still swears she had to hold on to me to keep me from going over the railing as I jumped to my feet. Everyone knew it was gone the moment it left his bat.

  10. Game 5 of the 1975 World Series. I was dating my wife at the time and she knew how big of a Reds fan I was, so she bought tickets for this game. I’ve never heard a crowd so loud as it was when Tony Perez hit his 2nd homerun of the game, a 3 run shot.

    I was not at the park either for game 5 of the 1972 playoffs where Bench hit the homerun off Guisti. I was watching it on TV with friends and remeber Bench’s first swing was a tremendous whiff where he fell off balance afterwards. It was obviouos he was going for the homerun and, at the time, I thought there was no way he was going to hit one swinging like that.

  11. Another great memory is a game I missed! My wife agreed to go on our first date. The problem was it was the opening day of the 1976 World Series. My budding love for her overrode my love for my REDS. I took her on a picnic lunch to Brown County State Park near Nashville, Indiana. Later, in Nashville, we were able to listen to the game as the good citizens of Nashville had people walking around with portable radios so die-hard REDS fans could hear the game. The REDS won and I won her heart by springing for banana splits for all 4 of us. Oh, did I mention she only agreed to go out with me IF her little sister and my little brother went along!

  12. @Bill Lack: At that point in the season we were all there for JB. A win would’ve been great but they were going nowhere. As the songs says, “…thank you John, for makin’ Cincinnati your one and only stop along the way.”

  13. Does anyone know where I can get either the radio call or video of the June 30, 2006 Adam Dunn homerun?

    That was my first day back in the Buckeye State after graduating college, and I went directly to the ballgame. Was disappointed for 7 innings, but stayed until the end. I was the only one cheering in my section in the bottom of the 9th before things got interesting. When Dunn hit that walk off, I blacked out, ran up and down the aisle (first base side), picked up an unknown child and we ran around high five-ing everyone. A lady later came up to me during the 20 minute break before the Friday night fireworks, and told me that she thought I had “single-handedly willed that win.”

    The music played throughout the stadium after the win, before the fireworks, was the score from the movie Field of Dreams. For me, that was heaven.

  14. I was at “Johnny Bench Night”, Bench’s farewell game, where he hit a homer that landed over the fence just 10 yards away from me. I remember a double header sweep of the Giants in ’84, when Tom Foley started both games at short and hit a homer in the first game and a triple in the second. I went to opening day evry year from ’83 to ’88. The ’85 opener in a snow storm that we got to a little late and only stayed 4 innings because of the snow. There was a loss against the Braves in ’82 when the Reds were being shutout until the 8th inning when Cedeno, Bench and Biittner hit 3 straight doubles to get at least a couple runs in. I got my first autographs in ’86 and ’87 from Sal Butera and John Franco. And these are just from when I was a kid. I moved from Ohio in ’88 and other than an occasional game at Shea Stadium when the Reds were in town, I didn’t get to a Reds game often enough until ’03, when I was living in Kentucky for a season. That’s where I really started collecting autographs.

    • .The ’85 opener in a snow storm that we got to a little late and only stayed 4 innings because of the snow.

      I was at this Opener also…it was COLD. Hadn’t been for that bottle of Schnapps, we might not have made it.😀

  15. I was also there for the 2006 Dunn walk-off slam. That was such a great experience; I’ve never heard the place so loud, and I was at the clinching 1999 LDS game as well. Best of all, I was there with my Indians-loving friend.

    I have an MP3 of Marty’s call of that play, if anyone wants it. Just send me an email to denl42mail at gmail dot com and I’ll see if I can send it. I practically have it memorized:

    “Dunn up there with the outfield shaded around toward right, and the 1-0 pitch on the way… SWUNG ON, LONG DRIVE, RIGHT FIELD, AND THIS ONE BELONGS TO THE REDS! Can you believe it? Can you believe it?” It’s a great call, and Marty’s voice cracks like it does when he gets really excited.

    Also… no one believes me when I say this, but I was also at Tom Browning’s perfect game. I was only 12 years old, but I remember it pretty well. I had my ticket stub signed by Browning a few years ago at the Reds Caravan.

  16. I was also at the Dunn walkoff game. My sister-in-law started getting bored about the fourth inning, especially with the Reds getting clobbered, but I told everyone that I was staying no matter what, so they stuck around, too. We ran into some friends sitting outside the Southgate House afterward, still with a high from the game-winner, just in time for the Friday night postgame fireworks, and I remember thinking there probably wasn’t anywhere else in the world I’d rather live. Great memory.

    I was at the Deon Sanders game, too. That was one of the most fun games ever.

  17. Hate to show my age, but the three most memorable moments I have had seeing the Reds play live were (in chronological order) sitting near the first-base dugout as a young 7th-grader and seeing Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan hit back-to-back homers off Don Drysdale on opening day of 1969 at Crosley Field; sitting in the green seats in right field at Riverfront Stadium as a high school senior on April 4, 1974 and seeing Hank Aaron tie Babe Ruth’s homer record; driving up from friends at UK and sitting in the very last row of red seats under the center field scoreboard in Game 3 of the 1975 World Series (the game which featured the Ed Armbrister bunt controversy). Still have my ticket stubs from the Aaron game and World Series.

  18. I was at Wrigley in 1991 with friends when Rob Dibble threw Doug Dacenszo’s come backer into his shoulder blades while he was running up the 1b line. The place went insane, the bleacher bums threw so much trash on the outfield that the game was stopped for 30 minutes.

    We had Cubs fans coming up to us and screaming at us about Rob Dibble. We were actually afraid for our safety and removed all of our Reds gear before walking from the part to the El.

  19. Wow, what a perfect post for a day like this. For me, at the ripe old age of 9 years old my dad took me to game 2 of the 90 world series. He always had season tickets growing up in columbus and every game he always took the radioshack am radio and held it up to his ear. I will NEVER forget overmatched Joe Oliver hitting that ball down third base line right in front of my eyes. Lol, and I could hear the crowd, my dad, and Nuxy all at the same time.

  20. That is one brilliant post, Kyle. Thanks for reminding me of those wonderful memories. Hopefully in the next couple of years we will have just as many wonderful memories to last us a lifetime.

  21. Gosh there are so many. I am going to show my age here, but can anyone remember the Hal King grand slam home run against the Dodgers on a hot night in July of 1973? I think it was the first game of a double header and the Reds were trailing the hated western division rivals by 11 or 12 games and if they had lost that game and perhaps the second game of the DH (which they won) the season for all intents and purposes would have been over. I remember the Reds went on to make up some unbelievable ground that August/September as most every night they would win and the Dodgers would lose.

    Was also at the game for the Tom Seaver no-hitter, and have one of the ‘game balls’ to this day. Always wanted to get Tom to sign it, but have never been able to catch up with him.

    The entire 1990 LCS was memorable to me. It seems there were more warning track flyouts in that series than I care to remember, as I can recall on just about each one thinking that a Pirate had hit a home run…. the difference in winning and losing can really come down to inches…. I would love to re-watch those games, anyone know of a good source for video?

  22. One of my favorites was one of the Cards Reds games from 2007. Or maybe 2006. But It was a back and forth game all night. The Reds had a lead, off 3 doubles in a row in the first, then the cards came back and took a lead. Back and forth all game. Then bottom of 9. Isringhausen pitching, and one on, reds down by one. David Ross hit a ball to center field that would’ve broken the top window in the steamboat today, but the boat wasn’t there then. I was sitting in 414 and when it passed my line of vision it was still going up. Unbelievable. Walking down the ramps to the street everyone was chanting “Let’s Go Reds” non-stop. Amazing.

  23. @BenL: Yeah, I was also at the Halladay game, watching mostly from the upper deck. I moved behind the bullpens in center in the later innings to try to change the Reds’ luck. Didn’t work, surprisingly. At the end of the game I felt like I was at a birthday party for someone I despised, though in retrospect I am glad I was there.

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