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So long, farewell …

After hosting 1,412 wins, 1,159 losses, and four ties by the Cincinnati Reds in a 32-season tenure, the place where I saw my first major league baseball game will meet a date with nitroglycerin some time in the very near future.
Riverfront Stadium, a.k.a. Cinergy Field, hosted its final major league baseball game Sunday afternoon. Saturday night Alecia and I made a trip to see the “old lady” one more time before the Red Legs move next door to Great American Ballpark next spring.
Much has changed since I saw the Reds play the Pirates in the mid-70s. Most notably, the Reds were a lot better then. There was an Astroturf playing surface (grass was installed in 2001) and now the G.A.B. dominates the outfield from the foul line in left to the power alley in right. There’s no way to look at the field without also noticing what looks like a white battleship, the U.S.S. Great American Ballpark, docked just beyond the fence.
I’m sure the new place will be amazing. Just looking through the artists’ drawings on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s web site (email me at [email protected] if you don’t feel like looking for the address) shows a ball park that will rival any in the major leagues. It’s beautiful.
But, historically, there is a tremendous amount of history at Riverfront that will be lost when the stadium is imploded: It’s where Pete Rose got his 4,192nd hit to break Ty Cobb’s record; where Hank Aaron hit the stadium’s very first home run and later his 714th, to tie Babe Ruth’s record; where the new Big Red Machine rolled from gate to wire in 1990; where Tom Browning pitched a perfect game against the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers (still the only perfect game in franchise history) in 1988. I could go on and on and on.
I love the new ball parks with all the old-time flair (G.A.B., Pac Bell, Coors Field, Camden Yards, etc.), but they can’t completely capture the feel of places like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium because they don’t have the nostalgia those places do.
Looking back, maybe I should have brought my daughter, Marcie, along so that I could boast that we both saw our first games at Riverfront. I’m sure she would have drooled over the idea (she’s becoming quite proficient at slobbering).
Anyway, Sparky Anderson probably said it best during Sunday’s celebration: “They can tear (Riverfront) down,” said the skipper who piloted the Big Red Machine of the 1970s to four World Series and two World Championships, “but they can’t take it away from me. I’ll never forget.”
Neither will I.

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