Since it’s about to get Arctic cold around here my thoughts today turned towards something that reminds me of when the weather will be warm again. Baseball! More importantly Cincinnati Reds baseball! They have let me down more than (insert joke here), but I still love them. Another product of being divorced is I lost my high level ticket connection! The ex’s employer had some of the sweetest seats in the stadium and I would get to go to a couple of games a year and get primo parking passes to boot. It usually cost me a Sunday afternoon making her boss a cake, but well worth it! Lost my dog, time with my daughter, my house, my dignity (for a while), and NOW I LOST MY REDS TICKET INSIDER! Grr, divorce sucks!
Growing up my beloved Reds, would always finish 2nd in the division (this was well before Wild Card playoff spots and three divisions), I finally got to see my the Reds on August 9th, 1988 (I did look the date up the rest I can recite from memory), My grandma had won tickets through some mail-in contest and so my uncles packed up a uber excited 11 year kid and it was my first trip up Interstate 71 to the ‘Nati (probably an 11 years old first journey in the art of “colorful” language also). I remember walking into the old concrete jungle that was Riverfront Stadium and being in awe. The turf was green as emeralds and the place was HUGE, watching batting practice I thought every fly ball was a home run, and damn my mom would have shit her pants if she knew how much her brothers cursed. I got to see my first baseball game and I learned ALL kinds of new words to show off at school the next day! Early in the game I was telling my uncles that Paul O’Neill sucked (I was an 11 year boy I knew it all), who hit the first ever home run that I got to see? Paul O’Neill of course, years later we would give him away and he became a stud on the great Yankee teams in the 1990s and we got back Roberto Kelly, he didn’t work out so well. Danny Jackson threw a shutout in a 6-0 win. Bo Diaz hit one off the foul pole in left field also, and unbeknownst to me at the time it was the last game Hall of Famer Don Sutton would ever pitch. I drank my weight in soda (probably Coca Cola back then) and probably ate a dozen Kahn’s hot dogs (the official sponsor back then, now the Reds are diverse Hebrew National is the official dog). Those same two uncles took me to another game a couple of years later and it rained 4.5 inches during a game against the Cubs. Doug Dascenzo had the night of his life before the monsoons in a Reds loss. Frigging Doug Dascenzo, I think he was a single short of the cycle and robbed a homer in center field.
I could sit here and type up memories of probably every Reds game I ever attended, I saw Mark McGwire become the first man to hit sixty homers in back to back seasons. Coincidentally, that game was the first time I saw a walk off home run (Thank you Pokey Reese). I had post season tickets purchased in 1999 before they wet the frigging bed in Milwaukee and then lost a one game playoff to the Mets (I got my money back at least). I was at the game Ken Griffey Jr. hit his first home run as a Red. It was freezing and we didn’t dress appropriately, my buddy and I warmed up with overpriced sweatshirts from the gift shop and Ron Bacardi. In 2010 the Reds finally had a chance to make the playoffs, I tried to talk my co-worker into driving up because they were offering seven dollar tickets. He didn’t want to go but I said screw it and thanks to a walk off Jay Bruce home run I got to see my beloved Reds celebrate making the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. I also got to see Aroldis Chapman for the first time, back then he threw 102-105 mph, TV doesn’t do that justice. Trust me! In 2012 my Reds love finally came full circle, I got to go to a playoff game! Thanks to Scott Rolen and untimely hitting we lost to the Giants and then crapped out in games four and five. All these memories I could sit and spin until you got bored talking to me or you are a Cubs or Cardinals fan. The point is like any guy I’ve lived my life vicariously through my favorite sports team at different points of my life. Like most Reds teams I needed them last year and they let me down! What does being a Reds fan mean at my age? You grew up listening to Marty and Joe, that’s what. If you get bored sometime YouTube some of their clips together. Joe Nuxhall has since passed, but I will always remember his post game shows on the radio with the player of the game, Marty is still there and ornery as ever. I got to meet Marty the year he got inducted into the Hall of Fame, I live ten minutes from the Louisville Riverbats (Triple A affiliate) and the Reds run a local caravan in town every year. Although the cast of characters they bring by get’s more and more unappealing every year. Marty signed a baseball for me and other than my daughter it is one of my prized possessions. If you aren’t a Reds fan or from Fairfax, VT you couldn’t possibly understand the “zen” that is Marty.
I go on about this because I got cheated last year, one more “Life isn’t Fair” moment I had back then. On July 8th I took Sloane to her first Reds game. It was kind of bittersweet because the original game was a rain out that I was going to go to with my best friend (and at the time happily married I thought), the make up game was part of a day/night double-header that started at noon on a weekday, and this was less than three weeks after getting my world rocked. We had fun, more like she had a blast, but I wasn’t there mentally for obvious reasons. Since she was born I counted the days until she was old enough to warrant the 90 minute drive up I-71 that she could go to her first Reds game. By now I know every podunk exit between here and Cincy, who has the best fountain drinks, and the cleanest bathrooms. I probably looked forward to this more than her walking (just kidding, but yes it meant a lot), and I didn’t get to fully enjoy it as her father.
That picture though I will always enjoy, if I ever become rich and famous that picture will be plastered on my walls in a gold-plated frame. I love all pictures of my precious daughter but that one put the biggest smile on my face back when I needed one. When I take her to another Reds game in the near future things will be different obviously, I got robbed of the experience of her first game but she didn’t. She was six at the time and we had to move seats every few innings, not because she was bored, but because she wanted to “explore” the place. I remember my first game also I would have walked miles at Riverfront Stadium to check everything out! That’s my girl, and I can’t wait to take her again!