As I said earlier in the week I really had no real plans on going to Cincinnati this weekend to see the Sox play. I wanted to, but it just didn’t seem like a reality. I had already been to the stadium, and going back is sometimes hard to justify. Then I read a very well timed post on the blog Mets Guy in Michigan about the Reds Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is basically attached to the stadium so why not go? Growing up in the eighties it was hard not to notice the Reds. They were not too far away from the Big Red Machine yet, and they were gearing up for the title runs at the end of the decade. It is literally impossible to list everything that is displayed in the museum here. I will try and highlight a few of the bright spots for me. This is a place that is worth the $10 to go and see. Your $10 admission fee covers any and all visits by you for the year, so if you live nearby it is well worth it.
Before you even pay you get to walk by bronze statues of the Wright brothers. No, not those Wright brothers. The important ones. Harry and George were basically the original Reds. They started up the first professional baseball squad. Darryl Brock has a couple of great novels set during those years called “If I Never Get Back,” and “Two In The Field.” The books are a little corny, but the baseball in them is worth the read. It was cool to see the statues as I walked in.
Right as you enter the museum you are flooded with memories from Crosley field. As I wandered around the first corner I heard a father telling his son about how dirty the White Sox are, and how they threw the World Series in 1919. In the case they were looking at was the last out game ball, and a ticket to the series along with some other great pieces of memorabilia.
I have every ticket stub from my games, and a decent ball collection so these two items really caught my eye. They ball is hard to read, and obviously very old but who would not want this in their collection. It is now safely preserved for generations to come. As you can see the ticket is in a card protector, and other than the tear from entry is in great shape. This is a part of the Sox history that I am not proud of, and it happened. As a sports junkie I want to see anything that pertains to my team good or bad. Seeing a matchup between these two teams ninety years later meant a lot more after looking into this case.
The next impressive portion of the case is the Pete Rose wall. They have dedicated an entire wall to “Charlie Hustle.” They have the ball that is shown on the left which signifies hit number one, and then the other 4,256 baseballs representing each of his major league hits. Most men would kill to get one Major League hit. Pete got that one, and then a few more. Certain balls are circled, and I wonder if they are the real deal. Earlier in the museum they had other artifacts from the day he broke Ty Cobb’s record.
This wall of baseballs really shows you what a feat that really was. If you look closely in the picture on the left you can see the reflection of the Rose garden located just outside the room with the wall. They have red roses planted out there with one white rose to signify the location where #4,192 landed. I saw #4,191 against the Cubs live on TV, and saw the highlights of the record breaker with most everyone else when it happened. It is almost impossible to get a good shot of the entire wall so I have included a half hearted attempt to the right. As you can see I still had about 1,000 hits over my head taking the picture. Despite everything that has transpired over the years I still love the way Pete played the game. It is just a shame the way he had to go out. I may have to tackle that in another post though.
Next up is the bronze tribute to the Big Red Machine. Just before you get to them though you get to see Sparky leaning on the rail of the dugout. This gives the fans a great opportunity to lean on the rail with Sparky and pose for some pictures. Just around the corner is the Glory Days room. The highlight of this room is the bronze statues of the ‘Great Eight’ players from that era. They are all there. Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Tony Perez, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Dave Concepcion.
The players are shown celebrating a big play while highlights of their accomplishments are shown in the background. This really was one of the best teams in the history of baseball. This is another great spot for fans to mix in with the Reds and get in on the celebration. If you use the right editing software at home you can bronze everything to really make it appear as if you are with the team. In the same room are the last three World Championship trophies. The trophies from 1975, 1976, and 1990 really look good in the room.
The ultimate Reds room is what every dedicated sports fan secretly wishes that they had in their house. This is a room dedicated to the Reds. Posters, bobbleheads, pictures, cereal boxes, pennants, and anything else that you can think to collect is in the room. They have a cool bar fully stocked with Reds memorabilia along with a nice big screen tv with the Reds on it. The picture to the left shows the bar, and gives you a little sample of what is in the room. Right as you go in to the right there is a picture of Ed Armbrister clearly interfering with Carlton Fisk during the 1975 World Series. It was not called that way, and the Reds went on to win that game and the World Series. This is a great room, and gives many men some bad ideas.
Finally we come to the Hall of Fame. This is a simple room with the plaques in the middle. The Hall of Fame only really existed in theory until the Reds opened the new park in 2003. I really enjoyed reading the plaques which are very similar to the ones at the Major League Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Some of the highlights for me are of course former Sox players Ted Kluszewski and Tom Seaver. Seaver came around with the White Sox at a time that I was very impressionable. He did not play there very long, but he did get his 300th win with them.
Big Klu was very much the same player. He was only with the Sox for two years, but one of those years was very successful (1959). He was the very definition of a slugger. His cutoff sleeves really showed off his huge arms. These are just two of the many Hall of Famers that are featured. Frank Robinson, Eric Davis, Harry Wright, George Wright, Johnny Bench, Tom Browning, Ernie Lombardi, Gus Bell, Johnny Van Der Meer, and Joe Morgan are just a few of the men enshrined. This is a great idea. If you listen to Joe Morgan nobody should be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame anymore. Some players like Davis mean a tremendous amount to their team for a period of time, but do not have the numbers for Cooperstown. This is a great way to acknowledge their accomplishments.
Like I said earlier, it is impossible to talk about everything in the museum. It is something that you have to see for yourself. I have just covered a few things that really stuck out to me. If you are a Reds fan this is a must to visit. Heck I would say the same if you are a baseball fan in general. Some of the best moments in baseball history have involved the Reds. Stop stalling and go to the museum. While you are there walk inside the ball park and watch a game. You will have a day to remember. This is what a team Hall of Fame and Museum should be. After the 2005 season the Sox closed the little museum that they had by the gift shop ‘temporarily.’ It has never reopened. I loved going into it and seeing the history of my favorite club. It was small, but great. I have been wondering what happened to it for the last couple of season. Maybe an email to the right people will get me some answers. We need something like this at ‘the Cell.’ Part of the problem was the museum was only available to the lower level ticket holders. Maybe some of the sellout money from the naming rights could build something similar to this. This would fit in great over by gate one where nothing is really going on right now.