Largely Unidentifiable Concession Stand Offerings: A trip to a current Reds game means that an out of town guest may sample the vast majority of the unique cuisine Cincinnati has to offer without leaving Great American Ball Park. Lame. This is sheer laziness on the part of your guest.
In my day, we had one form of food to choose from at a ballgame, and one alone: Weird hamburgers, odd-colored hot dogs, and flavorless soft serve from General Mass Production Cuisines, Inc. The truly refined and ambitious traveler appreciated such an adventurous meal.
People have no idea of what’s good anymore.
An Orderly Existence: Riverfront Stadium was a giant circle capable of seating about 40,000 people. This made for a towering fan experience when the game was the likes of one in the last week of the season in 1984, when it was you and four other people seeking the wonder of making an extremely echoey flushing noise in a cavernous bathroom. It was one big concrete hug.
The giant capacity rightly tested the faithfulness of the fans. My parents attended a Bengals game when my mother was seven months pregnant with my sister. The angle of the way-up-there red seats made for precarious walking through the row, but my father, in his wisdom, knew that this unborn child and his mate must be made ready for the rigors of a Cincinnati fandom.
This was a joy only fans of the Reds knew…as long as they never traveled to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston, New York, Washington DC, or Philadelphia. Outside of the product on the field, there was absolutely nothing to distinguish Riverfront from virtually every single one of their competitors. It was useful to know that if you were supporting the Reds in Atlanta, you would, much like a Catholic attending Mass in a foreign nation, know exactly what the traffic patterns were. Very comforting.
Useful Lessons in Thermodynamics: As a schoolteacher, my mother was granted an early peek at the then-under construction Riverfront. The Astroturf was in the process of its grand, green unfurling. Beneath it, she told me once, was blacktop.
“It looked like a parking lot,” she said. “I remember thinking that it would probably be pretty hot during games.” Shortsighted woman! Such was the proving furnace that produced the greatness of the Big Red Machine. Our young 2017 Reds are not felled by starters who fail to reach the fourth inning; no, it is this business of troublesome actual grass. They are soft, now, with untested sweat glands.
Free Pop Flavoring: These kids today with their smartphone tickets and their hoverboards and their polio vaccinations and their cup holders have been cruelly exempted from the exotic culinary treat that was a Pepsi which had spent the last five innings shoved under your seat. Reaching between your legs to remain hydrated builds character. There was none of this dandified business of having a beer mere inches from one’s hand.
And that wasn’t all. The longer your wax chalice remained on the concrete, the more interesting would become your floating collection of bits of rubber, gum, peanut shells, shoe detritus, and any number of things which makes baseball so special. There is no telling how weak my immune system would be were I raised with a baseball team which provided cupholders.
That stadium saved lives.
Valuable Life Lessons About Sharing: The Reds’ home was the Bengals’ home. The Bengals’ home was the Reds’ home. In the late summer months, this made for faint slashes of a gridiron across the green expanse of the outfield, and a bizarre circle where the pitcher’s mound was. This made for a jewel of an experience for both sports in most seasons, one which said, “We have no idea which sport is actually holding forth right now, but we’re pretty sure they’re not going to make it out of the offseason.”
Made us men and women, my friends.