Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Most memorable opening days in Reds history

There's nothing quite like Opening Day in Cincinnati. The pageantry, the tradition, the promise that only a new season can bring; it all adds up to one of the most anticipated days of the year for the Queen City. The city has been lucky enough to celebrate many of them since the team was established in 1869. And in honor of yet another one tomorrow, I thought it'd be neat to take a look back at some of the more memorable ones in franchise history:

March 31st, 2011 – Reds 7, Brewers 6 -Milwaukee becomes the first team in 42 years to open the season with back-to-back homers. However, it isn’t enough to ensure them a victory. Capped by Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off 3-run homer (his fourth hit of the day), the Reds rally to score four runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the GABP crowd home happy. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first Opening Day walk-off homer in history in which the team was trailing by at least two runs at the time of the homer.

April 4th, 2005 – Reds 7, Mets 6 -The Reds stage a ninth-inning comeback punctuated by a walk-off, solo homer by newcomer Joe Randa. Adam Dunn homers twice and drives in five runs and the team wins despite being outhit by a tally of 14-8. Pedro Martinez starts for the Mets and whiffs 12 batters in six innings of work.

April 3rd, 2000 – Reds 3, Brewers 3 -After enduring a 3-hour rain delay, the game is called on account of rain. The Reds and Brewers play the first Opening Day tie since April 12th, 1965 when the Cards-Cubs game at Wrigley Field was called due to darkness after 11 innings with the score tied at 10. The 55,596 fans in attendance are left unsatisfied and soggy.

April 4th, 1988 – Reds 5, Cardinals 4 -Cincinnati outlasts the Cardinals in a 12-inning contest at Riverfront Stadium. A whopping 35 players take part in the affair in front of a crowd of 55,438. It’s Kal Daniels’ single to plate Jeff Treadway that finally puts an end to the regular season opener…nearly four hours after the first pitch is tossed.

April 7th, 1975 – Reds 2, Dodgers 1 -It takes 14 innings to do it, but the Big Red Machine edges out the Dodgers en route to their first of back-to-back World Championships. George Foster’s pinch-hit, RBI-single to score Cesar Geronimo proves to be the difference. Don Gullet marvels the Riverfront audience by tossing 9 2/3 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball before giving way to a reliever.

April 4th, 1974 – Reds 7, Braves 6 -History is made as Hank Aaron belts his 714th career homer in his first at-bat to tie Babe Ruth’s all-time record. Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Reds scratch three across in the inning and tack on one more in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extras. Pete Rose scores the game-winning run after Braves reliever Buzz Capra uncorks a wild pitch in the bottom of the 11th.

April 17th, 1945 – Reds 7, Pirates 6 -The Reds win a controversial one in front of 30,069 fans at Crosley Field. The plot thickens in the fifth inning as Pirates SS Frankie Zak calls time to tie his shoelaces while occupying second base as a runner. Umpire Ziggy Sears frantically waves his arms to stop the play, but to no avail. The next pitch results in what Pittsburgh batter Jim Russell believes to be a 3-run homer, however it is disallowed on the account of time being called. The Bucs score no runs in the inning while the Reds tally six in their half of the frame. Cincinnati comes away victorious after Dain Clay drives in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the 11th.

April 21st, 1943 – Reds 1, Cardinals 0
-Johnny Vander Meer hurls a two-hitter as the team downs the defending National League champs in 11 innings at Crosley. The winning run is scored by Lonny Frey who was allowed to advance thanks to an RBI-single off the bat of Max Marshall. The press box thermometer reads a chilly 47-degrees at game time.

April 12th, 1932 – Reds 5, Cubs 4
-Trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds rally with four runs to turn away the 1932 NL champion Cubs 5-4 at Redland Field. A chilled crowd of 25,869 suffer through 42-degree conditions, but leave the park with a warm sensation after Taylor Douthit singles in the tying and winning runs. However, the thrill of victory was few, far and between in ’32 as the team sputters to a 60-94 record and last place finish in the league – ironically winding up 30 games behind the first-place Cubs.

April 15th, 1924 – Reds 6, Pirates 5 -A packed house of 35,747 at Redland Field, the largest single game attendance mark in the history of the ball park, watch the home team upend the visitors 6-5. Edd Roush’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth plates the game-winning run. It’s the first Reds game broadcast by radio in Cincinnati, and coincidentally the only Reds game broadcasted by WLW all season.

April 16th, 1918 – Reds 2, Pirates 0
-Fans watch in awe as Pete Schneider pitches a masterful one-hitter against Pittsburgh at Redland Field. Casey Stengel’s fourth-inning double proves to be his only miscue on the afternoon. The contest is a much-welcomed treat for those still unnerved by the current wartime feelings against Germany in World War I. The Cincinnati Enquirer describes the crowd as “calm and peaceful”.

The Reds' all-time record on Opening Day is 62-67-1.

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