Last August, I did an entry summarzing The (First Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip. The purpose of doing so was to give some background and context for the Second Annual Roadtrip that took me, Tim and my dad through Chicago, Minnesota and Milwaukee in August 2009. Those entries were just a combination of emails I sent to family members while we were on our first roadtrip. Now, its time to do actual game updates for those four games.
After I got off work on August 14, 2008, my dad (Jim), Tim and I packed into the car and drove to Washington, Pennsylvania where we spent the night at a KOA. Over the next five days, we would visit Great American Ball Park in Cinncinati, the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, Progessive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
We woke up on the morning of August 15, 2008, and packed up our stuff to head to Great American Ball Park…
I’d been watching the Reds on TV since Griffey was traded to Cincinnati, so I knew exactly where we had to go for dinner before the game…
Downtown Cinncinati slopes down toward the Ohio River, the Ohio-Kentucky border…
Now, in the grand scheme of all of the new stadiums, I had heard that Great American Ball Park was nothing special. But, you know what, I really liked it. Its no Camden Yards or Safeco Field, but it had a special feel of its own. In fact, I almost felt like it was a Major Leauge size minor league ball park. That’s not meant to be insulting. What I mean is that it sort fo felt *quaint* — maybe it was because we sat in the RF bleachers with the big steam boat nearby in CF and the river behind us. Anyway, I liked it a lot.
As we approached the main entrance of the ballpark, we found a statute of Ted Kluszewski and a big banner thanking Griffey for his 600th homerun…
Sixteen days before this game, Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox. We’d planned to sit right behind him in RF.
By the way, I didn’t write an entry about it because Tim wasn’t with me, but after missing seeing Griffey’s 600th homerun in Philadelphia, a buddy from high school and I saw Griff’s 601st homerun at Yankee Stadium during interleague play.
With no Griffey in sight, I was all about seeing Albert Pujols do something special in this game. As we entered the park, Albert was standing right there behind home plate speaking with Edinson Volquez…
…a few minutes later, Volquez walked into the Reds dugout just below me and Tim. All I had on me was a cheap plasticy ball we bought on our way to play catch with on the trip. Anyway, Volquez and some other unidentified Red signed it.
We headed out to the seats in RF to watch some BP. It was pretty packed out there. Tim and I squeezed into the first row and my dad hung back a row or two behind. We were having no luck. Then, on what I think was the final pitch of BP, someone hit a ball off the wall right in front of us. As it bounced off of the wall, all of the Cardinals started to run toward their dugout. But reliever Chris Perez turned around to grab that ball. He grabbed it and started running back toward the field. Then everyone yelled at him. He turned around. The 20-something guy next to us and I both pointed at Tim. Perez fired the ball over to us.
It was the first ball Tim had got this season.
With Tim’s new baseball in hand, we headed to the concourse behind 1B and made our way over the Reds Hall of Fame:
Along the far end of the Reds HOF (closest to the outfield and Ohio River), there is a wall of 4,256 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s record-setting career hit total.
The balls cover the wall the entire way as you ascend three flights of stairs. If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you will see that the balls are all game (or at least BP) used. They are all dirty and scuffed with bat marks. Its an excellent visual representation of Rose’s hit record.
The Reds HOF is packed with jerseys, bats, gloves, and shoes with little descriptions of the Reds Hall of Famers.
I was happy to see a Ken Griffey, Sr. jersey in there. I’m a big proponent of team Halls of Fame. I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should be reserved for the super-elite, best of the best of the best of the best. Some peopel refer to “inner circle” Hall of Famers. To me, the “inner circle” should be the entire Hall of Fame. If a player is borderline, if an “argument” mut be made for a player’s candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think that means that player is not a Hall of Famer.
But that doesn’t mean there is no place for such players. If a player can’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame after years on the ballot. No problem, those players can still be remembered forever by the people to whom they were most important in their respective team’s hall of fame. Anyway, those are my two cents.
And anyone lucky enough to make it into the Reds HOF should be very pleased, indeed, this place is spectacular.
Check out this great picture they have on the wall of the members of the Reds HOF:
Like a Safeco Field, they have a fake wall where you can pretend to pick-off homeruns. Unlike Safeco Field, the Reds offer a variety of gloves from past and present. Check out the sweet piece of leather I picked in the picture below:
…they had a little kids club house type area with little lockers with little jerseys they could wear and slides and things to climb. In another area, they had a mock *man cave* full of stuff the ultimate Reds fan my have in his den. Check out this picture of Ken Griffey, Jr. Notice anything odd?
He signed it “George K. Griffey, Jr.” I have never seen him do that before.
Soon, it was game time. I took this panaramic view from our seats in RF.
I bought these tickets literally the second they went on sale…in February or March or 2008…and the best they could give us in RF (where I was hoping Griffey might hit a homerun) was 3 rows from the top of the bleachers.
Then, in the bottom of the first, I got this picture just as Reds rookie Chris Dickerson hit his first career homerun.
The ball landed in the Cardinals bullpen just below the glass partition to the left of the picture.
After Dickerson’s homerun, I tried to zoom in for a picture of Albert Pujols, but this is the best my old camera could do:
…but didn’t find any cream helmets until I made it all the way around to behind home plate. So I ended up doing a full loop of the ballpark. I’m sure the wait made Tim appreciate the ice cream even more:
After we finished our ice cream, we headed back toward home plate because I saw some ballpark artwork I wanted to photograph while I had my hands full of ice cream helmets. Here they are, two big mosaics of the .
Above is the 1869 Red Stockings, which according to Wikipedia were the first “openly professional” baseball team. Below, is the Big Red Machine from the 1970s…including short-time Mariner and father of a future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey.
Back to the game, in the top of the third, Pujols hit a ground rule double. The first of two doubles and three total hits on the evening. By the end of the third, a bulk of the scoring for the game was done. The Cardinals were winning 4-2. Each team would score only one more run.
Late in the game, I ventured out in search of some pizza and took some more ballpark pictures. Here is Great American Ball Park from foul territory in the LF corner.
Here are two more pictures:
To the right, a view of the extra wide concourse in foul territory down the 3B line. To the left, a picture of the Cardinals bullpen. Directly across the field I have circled in yellow the big open concourse pictured to the right.
After taking that shot of the bullpen, I turned to the right at took two more pictures:
And when we were over there, we ran into a local celebrity, Rosie Red…
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals brought in Chris Perez. He gave up one hit, but struck out two to secure the win for the Cards and the save for himself.
After the game, they shooed us out of the OF seats. He relocated into the infield seats, where I took a couple more random stadium shots…
Tim would fall asleep on my shoulders as we walked back to our hotel.