Baseball fans all across the country collectively share in the glory that is Opening Day. However, few clubs celebrate the beginning of a new season like the Cincinnati Reds.
In Ohio, this year’s game will be the first Major League Baseball game to commence after the launch of legal Ohio sports betting.
But, that’s not the only thing Cincinnatians will be celebrating. Opening Day in the Queen City is an “official”/unofficial holiday, often called Cincinnati’s annual sick day. Kids skip school, adults call out of work, and they all head into town to participate in one of Major League Baseball’s oldest and most unique traditions.
The Findlay Market Reds Opening Day Parade is a tradition with over 100 years of history. The parade route stretches 1.4 miles through the heart of downtown and the neighboring Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Last year, an estimated 130,000 fans attended. This year, the parade steps off at noon on March 30, before the hometown Reds welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Great American Ball Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m.
The 2023 season doesn’t look promising, but it wasn’t always so gloomy
Reds fans have seen plenty of recent preseason projections similar to those for this year’s team. The Reds have anywhere between +25000 (BetMGM Sportsbook) to +20000 (DraftKings Sportsbook) to win the World Series. Every sportsbook has the team finishing dead last in the National League Central.
So, the 2023 season begins with familiar expectations and ever-lasting hope in one of America’s best baseball cities. To make sure Reds fans head out to the parade on a high note, here’s a (completely subjective, in no particular order) list of the Top 3 Opening Day moments in Reds history.
Why not lead off with arguably the most memorable Opening Day in Reds history?
The 7-6 Cincinnati win over the Atlanta Braves also features two of the game’s greatest players*.
On that day in April, Hank Aaron smacked a three-run dinger over the left field wall at Riverfront Stadium. Aaron’s 714th career HR tied him with Babe Ruth for the (then) all-time lead.
But it was Reds legend Pete Rose who stole the show. After a two-out double in the bottom of the 11th, Rose stood on the bag with the score tied at 6. After a wild pitch, “Charlie Hustle” raced home to win the game.
As if all that wasn’t enough, here’s some more fun trivia. Vice President Gerald Ford threw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch. It was Marty Brennaman’s first regular-season game behind the microphone for the Reds.
*No disrespect intended to the other Hall of Famers who also participated in this game: Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Phil Niekro, Sparky Anderson and Eddie Mathews.
Few things are better than Opening Day following a World Series championship season. Banners are raised, diamond rings are presented, and the packed house of adoring fans greet every returning player as a conquering hero.
The Reds won the franchise’s 5th (and most recent) title the previous year, sweeping the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics.
Opening the season against the Houston Astros (when they still played in the NL), Barry Larkin hit a home run and Rob Dibble earned the save in a 6-2 victory.
But, the day is special because it set the MLB record for most consecutive Opening Day wins (9) by any club in history. The Reds still hold the record, although they now share it with the Detroit Tigers.
The older generations of Reds fans may not necessarily agree with this one. Because, even as much as those some fans might have complained about the team’s old stomping grounds, Riverfront and Crosley Field were theirs.
The current generation has something to be proud of with the Great American Ball Park. The stadium is consistently mentioned among the league’s best, particularly by out-of-town fans. The venue features overt nods to the city’s rich waterfront history and offers some of pro baseball’s best panoramic views.
The game itself is not fondly remembered around the city. The Pirates beat the Reds by a 10-1 score on March 31, 2003, to open the new ballpark.
Hall of Famers Ken Griffey, Jr. and Larkin were wearing home jerseys that day, so it’s fair to say it wasn’t all bad.