DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Cincinnati and baseball are intertwined in ways that defy most cities and sports. Opening Day is a “city holiday” in Cincinnati and beginning in 1939 the Reds hosted the first game of the Major League season, at points a day earlier than the rest of the teams in the league. According to Reds team historian Greg Rhodes, the situation was confusing enough to fans newspapers had to explain it to readers.
1974: Hank ties Ruth: Atlanta Braves outfielder and Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth for all-time career home runs, hitting his 714 in the first inning off pitcher Jack Billingham. Fans gave Aaron a standing ovation, and Johnny Bench congratulated Aaron as Braves players surrounded the plate. Vice President Gerald Ford attended the game and honored Aaron to the crowd. Four days later, he broke Ruth’s record with home run 715.
1920: The Findlay Market Parade: The Reds began holding parades for opening day as early as the 1890s, usually consisting of a band and two wagons carrying each team. Findlay Market became the official starting point in 1920. The festivities grew through the years with local TV broadcasting it in 1970. Grand Marshall for Thursday’s parade will be MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
2011: Walk-off win: The Reds opened against division rival Milwaukee. The two teams were scoreless through nine innings, until Ramon Hernandez homered off reliever John Axford in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, giving fans a thrilling finish.
2003: The first Opening Day at Great American Ball Park: Ken Griffey Jr. Recorded the first hit in the ballpark’s history, Austin Kearns hit the stadium’s first home run. Former President George H.W. Bush threw the first pitch.
1996: Umpire collapses in first inning: Seven pitches into the first game of the season, umpire John McSherry collapsed after calling timeout. He had was walking toward the umpire’s room when he fell and was pronounced dead an hour later at a local hospital. The game was postponed.