Major League Baseball Park #26 out of 38
Thursday, August 5, 1999
Colorado Rockies 2, Cincinnati 1
W– Pedro Astacio
L – Juan Guzman
Attendance – 24,318
Friday, July 27, 2001
Cincinnati 10, Florida Marlins 6
W– Lance Davis
L – Matt Clement
Attendance – 26,058
Riverfront Stadium opened June 5, 1970, was renamed Cinergy Field in 1997, and stood for 32 years. The Reds and the NFL Bengals each got their own buildings and somebody, somewhere realized there's no point to having this concrete monstrosity sitting around, so it was imploded December 29, 2002.
The Cincinnati Reds franchise has been around since 1876 and Riverfront was their sixth ballpark. Crosley Field was demolished in 1970 and the home plate from that stadium was used at Cinergy until 1997.
During the ballpark's first year, it had hosted an All-Star Game and a World Series. Five World Series were played here and the Reds won three of them (1975, 1976, and 1990). Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's career-hit record at Riverfront in September of 1985. The Reds' retired numbers were visible as jerseys just over and behind the outfield wall.
Riverfront was the first of the cookie-cutter stadia to have its entire field covered by AstroTurf -- only the cutouts around the bases and the pitcher's mound showed dirt. While construction was underway for the Great American Ballpark next door, the bleachers were removed and the AstroTurf was replaced by natural grass. All that work made only a slight improvement.
The last stop on our 1999 trip was, like Three Rivers Stadium, yet another 1970s cookie-cutter stadium hiding some decent-looking scenery. Before the game, we stopped by Lytle Park and walked around the downtown area.
As you can tell by the score above, the game wasn't very exciting. Mike Cameron led off the game with a homer, but that was about it for the hometown nine that afternoon.
By the time we returned -- just two years later -- the Reds had experienced some extreme highs and lows. After just missing out on the playoffs in 1999, they traded for disgruntled superstar outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. before the 2000 season and morale on the team and within 100 miles of the city was fairly high. However, Griffey's numbers had started to decline due to injuries both serious and nagging and by July of 2001, the honeymoon was over.
As it turned out, we ended up sitting a couple of rows away from a guy who lived in Kent (a Seattle suburb), but was in town visiting a cousin. When we told the local guy we were from Seattle, he said two things, "So, you're here to steal some more of our good players." and "I'll make you a deal. You can have Griffey back for either Piniella or Boone or Cameron." And at the time of the trade, the consensus was the Mariners had been hosed because Griffey had made it clear he would only go to one team. So the Mariners had no choice but to take Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer.
Griffey and his good friend Barry Larkin didn't endear themselves to the locals when word got out that they left the clubhouse before the last game of the 2000 season was over. Since then, Junior's luck has gone from bad to worse. The Reds won 96 games before he arrived, but haven't reached the .500 mark since 2000. They do have a few good, young players (we did see Adam Dunn hit his first major-league homer during our second game), but for some reason, they just can't seem to get some decent starting pitching.
Cincinnati is a great baseball town and the fans are very loyal. Of course, it helps that the franchise has been successful often enough to keep them interested. Hopefully, Griffey can have a few more healthy seasons before he retires and the new ballpark can host a few playoff series.
From left to right, the pictures below were taken from a now-closed restaurant across the river from the stadium, a view from the first-base line, some of the downtown area as seen from the ballpark, the view from our seats in 1999, and a bridge that crosses the Ohio River and connects Cincinnati with Kentucky.
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