A Reds cap tops the Scripps Building and Mr. Red’s handlebar mustaches adorn city sidewalks. The historic Reds decor throughout downtown celebrates the All Star Game being played in Cincinnati on July 15, and there’s no better place to get into the All Star spirit than at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
With displays overhead, beside us, and covering all the walls, the new Kings of the Queen City exhibit enveloped us in All Star History. We learned about great players, their uniforms and equipment, and the origin of the All Star Game itself. I never knew that organizers created the first competition between the American and National Leagues’ best players in 1933 to coincide with Chicago’s Century of Progress, and that they initially named the game “The Midsummer Classic.”
The Palace of Fans, the ornate Reds’ stadium of 1902-1911, would have been gone by then, but a replica serves as a theater at the museum. No shows were playing while we visited, but I still took a peek inside. After my glance at the screen and grandstand seating, I had to hurry to catch up with the family. I needn’t have worried. My son Johnny, a baseball fanatic, could have stayed and stared at the Reds Leaderboard for hours. He loves to study the stats, and the board lists all the Reds records in batting, pitching and stolen bases.
Pete Rose, of course, holds the hit record, and the Wall of Balls, 4,256 of them, represents every hit of his career. As we climbed the stairs, we heard Marty Brennaman’s emotional call of the record breaking 4,192 from September 11, 1985. The words and cheering crowd brought back the moment for me. I remembered sitting in the family room with my mom, watching the game on our Admiral Color Console TV. When Pete hit that ball, we both hugged and cried.
We shared more memories as we examined framed baseball cards, and then moved to a corner devoted to fan favorite Tony Perez. Memorabilia includes his Reds uniforms, and the Expos’ one, too, his smile in a Gold Star Chili ad, and my favorite oddity, his face in a set of Official Major League Players Baseball Marbles.
More oddities caught our eye in The Front Office exhibit. Player salaries, a pistol carried by one owner, and Marge Schott, who had a World Series ring replicated into a dog collar for Shotzie.
While my husband and I perused the Stars of the Queen City memorabilia, its green Reds jerseys, touch screen of audio clips, and wall of Reds Players voted into the All Star Games through the years, our son picked up a bat and started swinging.
Next, Johnny and I gravitated to Strike Zone. It tests whether visitors can throw a strike from the mound, 60 feet, six inches away. I can’t. As a former softball player, I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t. I tried. Several times. At best the ball bounced to its target, but mostly it rolled off to the corner. My son did better. He threw mostly balls, but at speeds of up to 90 mph, and actually did pitch a strike. Kids can have still more fun at the Kids’ Clubhouse with uniforms, toys, a climbing area and a slide. Young and old will also enjoy “You Make the Call,” an interactive studio with microphones and highlight clips for visitors to broadcast.
We found my husband relaxing in a plush chair watching Reds bloopers in the “Ultimate Reds Room.” Reds’ stadium chairs, bats, hats, jerseys, T-shirts, mugs, pennants, light fixtures and street signs decorate every inch of this Reds fan cave. At the end of our visit, after we took selfies with the bronze figures in the Great Teams exhibit, we received memorabilia for our own Reds Room, a Billy Hatcher Bobblehead, one of the giveaways the museum features each month for its fans.
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum
100 Joe Nuxhall Way | 513-765-7923 | redsmuseum.org
Open at 10 a.m. to two hours after game for all afternoon games,
10 a.m. – 8 p.m. for all evening games and
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday – Saturday, non-game days.
$8 seniors and students,
$6 active military and veterans,
free ages 4 and younger.