Great American Ball Park Parking – Three Smart Choices

Great American Ball Park


Great American Ball Park Parking – Three Smart Choices

Posted by Kurt Smith

There isn’t any shortage of close and convenient Great American Ball Park parking…the home of the Reds is among the easiest to reach by automobile. I’ve looked into this quite a bit, and I have my three favorite spots, each very affordable and with its own advantages:

 

great american ballpark parking streetcar

Reachable by streetcar, and features outstanding Belgian waffles.

Great American Ball Park Parking, Part 1: Park early at the ballpark and make a day of Cincinnati. The Broadway and a couple of other lots are literally right there at the ballpark, but they don’t start charging the game rate until later in the day, so if you’re early enough you can park there for the day for a fraction of the event cost. And now with the new and inexpensive Cincinnati streetcar, you can very cheaply visit some great local attractions like Findlay Market. (Belgian waffles!)

 

great american ball park parking newport

Baseball and sea otters…without having to move your car.

Great American Ball Park Parking, Part 2: Park in Newport, KY. The Newport-On-The-Levee garage is cheap, and it’s near a full-blown entertainment center with everything from a movie theater and an aquarium and lots of great eateries. And multiple ways to get to the ballpark…you can take a lengthy but scenic stroll across the Purple People Bridge, or use the inexpensive Southbank Shuttle to GABP’s front door…or even take a boat from the waterfront restaurants. Great if you’re bringing the kids or impressing a date.

 

great american ball park parking covington

A cheap if rickety ride from a free parking spot.

Great American Ball Park Parking, Part 3: Park in Covington, KY. Covington is nowhere near the entertainment destination that Newport is, but this can be a good thing…it’s more than simple enough to find a free spot, either near the Roebling Bridge for another scenic walk (and not as lengthy as the walk from Newport) or a Southbank Shuttle station for a cheap ride. There are some nice watering holes with outdoor dining here, like the Keystone Bar & Grill…which will give you shuttle tokens with their outstanding mac and cheese.

There’s three great options for different tastes in getting to Great American, and I hope you find them useful. But there are lots of great ways to get to the home of the Reds…plan the best route for you and your group with this handy little guide!

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Visiting Great American Ball Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re visiting Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati for the first time, there are a few things you should probably know before you go. Great American is a terrific, and underrated ballpark experience, so make sure you get the most out of it…

visiting great american july promos

They have promotions in other months too. Don’t sweat it.

Visiting Great American Ball Park Tip #1: Check for ticket deals. Not just through the Reds website, although they definitely have some great offers and you should sign up for team e-mail alerts. But sites like Cincinnati USA, Groupon, etc. also offer discounted Reds tickets. You can get that District ticket with the free drink or get half-price tickets for the kids if you search a little bit.

visiting great american sun moon deck

The shaded area can accommodate approximately four guests.

Visiting Great American Ball Park Tip #2: Be prepared in the outfield seating. If you’re sitting in the bleachers in left field or the Sun & Moon Deck in right field, you will be completely unprotected from the sun during the day, and when you add the concrete and white steel to the Cincinnati heat, it can be rough. Have sunglasses and sunscreen, and take advantage of the misters that the Reds set up near the home run towers. Probably a good idea to bring a cushion for those metal bleachers seats too. You’ll thank me.

visiting great american newport parking

Baseball and sea otters…without having to move your car!

Visiting Great American Ball Park Tip #3: Try parking in Newport. You can park in the Newport-On-The-Levee entertainment complex very cheaply, especially if you’re early, and from there you have several choices to get to the ballpark…the long but picturesque walk across the Purple People Bridge, the inexpensive Southbank Shuttle, or the ferry boats coming from the Hooters and other restaurants on the pier. Great for a fun outing, and there’s plenty to do in Newport-On-The-Levee for kids of all ages.

visiting great american machine room

If you ask nicely, they’ll put the game on TV for you.

Visiting Great American Ball Park Tip #4: Enjoy a meal in the Machine Room. There are plenty of great food choices in Great American like the Skyline chili cheese Coney, the Penn Station subs and the Frisch’s Big Boy burgers, but those are all local chains and you can enjoy them more cheaply at the actual restaurants in town. Instead, try the restaurant in the upper left field corner…you may get a table with a great view, and you can get some crazy and messy loaded fries. Remember what I said about arriving early? The Machine Room is another pretty good reason.

visiting Great American Reds Hall

Yes, they traded Joe Morgan.

Visiting Great American Ball Park Tip #5: See the Reds Hall of Fame. It’s great to visit any team’s Hall, but the Reds Hall may be the best of them. You can see a short film of the team’s history, where you’ll learn how Cincinnati was the home of the first professional baseball team (which is now technically the Red Sox, but the city still has great baseball roots) and you can see displays like the 4,256 baseballs for Pete Rose hits and a model of old Crosley Field. Not to mention the Reds Hall itself, which will probably be the only baseball Hall to include Charlie Hustle.

That’s a few essential tips for visiting Great American, but there’s a lot to know about Cincinnati’s terrific ballpark…like the post-game scene, the excellent kids play area and the great food at Mr. Red’s Smokehouse. If you want to know more about the true Great American Ball Park experience, be sure to get yourself one of these.

 

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Great American Ball Park Seating – The Gap

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Great American Ball Park seating bowl features a pretty neat idea that some newer ballparks have quietly adopted – the Gap.

When Great American was built, budget constraints kept the designers from putting in big riverboats or exploding scoreboards, so they came up with a clever way to introduce a quirk to the ballpark.

The Gap is a section of seating between home and third base that was left open; there is an opening there that is a decent standing room spot on the upper level especially.

I’ve read that the Gap allows people to watch the game from Sycamore Street, but honestly I don’t know how that’s possible, unless there is a spot just outside the ballpark that I missed.

great american ball park seating gap right field

Watch Cincinnati office workers from inside the ballpark!

The other stated purpose of the Gap was to bring the upper level seats on the third base side closer to home plate. That isn’t quite the case either, well, not exactly.

What the Gap does do is enable larger sections of 400 level seats. These are called “View Box” seats on the first base side of the Gap, and those sections have about five rows, while on the third base side they are called “Mezzanine” but still are numbered with 400 section numbers. The sections on the third base side have 17-18 rows in them.

So yes, it does bring the seats closer to the action; the Mezzanine seats are about at the same level as the Club seating on the first base side. But it doesn’t actually bring the cheapest seats closer to the field, not noticeably so anyway. The Mezzanine seating costs as much as the View Box, sometimes a couple bucks more or less depending on the Reds’ dynamic pricing.

great american ball park seating gap view level

More breeze for left-handed power hitters!

Not saying that this is a bad thing, not at all. The Gap provides a nice little opening to walk past and it’s actually pretty neat how the designers of the ballpark created larger 400 level sections. Yes, it costs a few dollars more, but they’re mezzanine level seats as opposed to upper box, and the seats have a good perspective of everything.

Great American Ball Park is one of the most functionally fan-friendly ballparks in baseball, in my opinion, and one of the reasons is the view from most of the seats in the ballpark. In most places the upper rows on the third base side wouldn’t be great; at Great American you have some better choices. Choose wisely…read one of these first.

 

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The Best Way To Get To Great American Ball Park

Posted by Kurt Smith

More than likely, you’re going to get to Great American Ball Park by car, since public transit isn’t as prevalent in Cincinnati as it is in, say, Chicago.

This is fine, though, since there are ample parking options. And as ballparks go, it is relatively easy to get to Great American, with several interstates on either side of downtown. You have inexpensive and expensive choices, and you have places to park where you can get in easily and places where you can get out easily.

There are also lots of places to leave your car in the neighboring towns of Newport and Covington, across the Ohio River in Kentucky. They aren’t the closest or the easiest places to walk, but you do have the option of the Southbank Shuttle.

get to great american southbank shuttle

Does everything in baseball have to be named for a bank?

The Southbank Shuttle is a trolley service operated by the fine people at the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK). The trolley service runs from either Newport or Covington, and in most cases it passes through Cincinnati and has several stops near the ballpark. It runs frequently enough that you shouldn’t have to wait long, they offer extra service for Reds games, and as of this writing it’s just a buck-fifty per ride.

You can usually find cheap or even free parking in both towns (well detailed in the Great American Ball Park E-Guide!), and the nice thing is that if you plan to take in some pre- or post-game food or entertainment, you have lots of dining options and fun things to do, especially at the Newport-On-The-Levee entertainment center.

get to great american southbank shuttle sign

Now, if it were every 20 minutes, I wouldn’t be recommending it.

You might have reasons to park downtown for a game, and there are some good reasons to do so in certain cases. But if you’re looking for inexpensive parking with minimal walking and less traffic after the game, you could do worse than parking in Kentucky and hopping on a trolley.

My only complaint is it’s a bit of a rickety ride. I wouldn’t recommend it for pregnant women. Then again, if your companion is carrying your offspring, you should be dropping her off at the door anyway.

That’s just one way to get to Great American; there’s also the street parking near the ballpark, the new Cincinnati streetcar, even the river shuttles. Pick out the best way to go for you with one of these.

TANK website: http://www.tankbus.org

 

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Great American Ball Park Food – 3 Things To Try

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Great American Ball Park food menu isn’t overly complicated. The Reds don’t have the ridiculous amount of options that, say, the Mets do. I didn’t see a sushi or lobster roll stand there. But there is a decent variety and you should be able to find something that fits your taste, especially if you’re an American and like hot dogs at the game.

There’s also several stands that celebrate the local chains, and each one has something that makes for great ballpark food.

 

Great American Ball Park food skyline coney

In case you’d like a hot dog with your cheese.

Great American Ball Park Food Tip #1: The Skyline Chili Cheese Coney. If there’s a go-to item at Great American, at least judging by the number of them I saw being purchased, it’s probably the Skyline cheese and chili dog.

Skyline chili is a very popular chain that can be found all over Cincinnati, known for the local style of chili—which is probably different from the way most people outside of Cincinnati know it, with both cocoa and cinnamon as ingredients. There are several Skyline stands at Great American.

The Skyline Chili Cheese Coney is a small hot dog with a generous amount of Cincinnati-style chili and a nice helping of shredded cheddar piled on top. They’re not very long, only about four inches or so…and they’re fairly economically priced so most people get two of them.

Definitely get a fork and some napkins for this one, but it’s good eats.

 

great american ball park food fry box

My day is complete.

Great American Ball Park Food Tip #2: Fry Box Buffalo Chicken Fries. The Fry Box stand at Great American is fairly new, but it ranks near the top of fry stands I’ve seen at ballparks, and remember I live in the home of Chickie’s and Pete’s in Philly.

Put Buffalo-style chicken on cheesecake and it would probably taste good. But put it on hand cut fried potatoes…which is pretty much nature’s perfect food…and add a generous helping of ranch dressing and blue cheese, and you’ve got a classic why-have-I-been-settling-so-much-in-my-life ballpark dish. When you need a fork to eat your loaded fries, they’ve been done right.

OK, so maybe it isn’t the healthiest thing, so walk it off along the riverfront…

 

great american ball park food larosas pizza

Most pizza chains would need a plastic pizza replica to make their pizza look this good.

Great American Ball Park Food Tip #3: LaRosa’s Pizza. I would be giving LaRosa’s a shoutout anyway, since I visited one while I was in town and the folks there couldn’t have been nicer to me. But it’s pretty good pizza in its own right, and I’m a South Jersey pizza snob. I live in an area with several chains: Domino’s, Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s, Pizza Hut. LaRosa’s is easily better than all of them, and I hope they open a few in Jersey.

At Great American LaRosa’s is represented with a few stands in the upper and lower concourses; you can get a plain slice, a slice with pepperoni, and a Montgomery Inn BBQ sandwich for some reason. According to the Reds website, they sell a calzone too, but I didn’t see it. Don’t be put off by the congealing slices that have been sitting on display for a while; your slice should be a little fresher.

 

That’s three suggestions for Great American Ball Park food; but there’s many other choices, including mac and cheese from the Keystone Bar & Grill, the amazing Taste of Belgium waffles, and Frisch’s Big Boy among many others…be sure to come prepared!

 

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Best Ballparks – Why Great American Is Underrated

Posted by Kurt Smith

I often get asked my opinion on what the best ballparks are, and usually names like Fenway and Camden and PNC pop into my head. Great American in Cincinnati doesn’t make my top five, or maybe even my top ten. It doesn’t quite stand out among the greats visually, the food selection isn’t as varied, and it doesn’t have the retro feel that so many new ballparks have.

But at the risk of sounding like a boring architect (not that architects are boring, just saying), from a functional standpoint, Great American Ball Park truly is one of the best in baseball. Underrated thing, ballpark functionality, until you’re a season ticket holder.

First, it’s more affordable than most ballparks: for a team that has been competitive in some recent years, the Reds offer some amazing deals for fans. Kids and senior citizens can get half-price tickets, there are several fan clubs that offer discounts, and Reds tickets aren’t that expensive to begin with; even the better seats are relatively affordable.

best ballparks gabp seating

Why are these seats crooked?

Another thing I noticed about GABP is the fan-friendly way the seating is arranged. I kind of chuckled at the big deal they made about the Gap in left field at first, but it does bring more seats closer to the action. The curvature of the seating bowl on the first base side and the way the seats are arranged allow for a straight ahead view with no neck twisting.

I searched all over the ballpark, and other than the bleachers missing a bit of the warning track, I couldn’t find a single obstructed view…including seats from which you can’t see the scoreboard.

best ballparks southbank shuttle

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Few ballparks—especially ballparks planted in the heart of a city—are easier to get to than Great American. There are three nearby interstates, and not only is there abundant parking in the garages and lots nearby, there is much cheaper parking across the river in Newport and Covington. From either town you can use the inexpensive Southbank Shuttle to the ballpark. And now the new streetcar makes a visit to Cincinnati with a ballgame thrown in much easier.

Leaving the ballpark, drivers can move in any direction and find an easy way home. Parking is as affordable as in any ballpark too.

best ballparks skyline coney

It’s baseball. There’s a hot dog in there somewhere.

The food selection at GABP isn’t as varied as other ballparks…as far as I know there aren’t any “executive chefs”…but if you want a taste of the popular joints in the Cincinnati area, they’re all here: Skyline chili, LaRosa’s pizza, Montgomery Inn BBQ, Frisch’s Big Boy burgers, and Penn Station subs. Plus about a half dozen different kinds of Kahn’s dogs and Queen City sausages, and an affordable restaurant in left field with cool stuff like Mammoth Fries.

Need to keep the kids occupied? There’s a whole kids play area with a wiffle ball field, and Reds employees even pitch to the kids.

best ballparks cincinnati hall

“No running in here, kids!”

All that and more than enough post-game options, whether you want a meal at the Holy Grail or entertainment in Newport-On-The-Levee. And arguably the best team Hall of Fame in baseball.

It’s all here.

Great American, by ballpark standards, is something of a no-frills venue. Most don’t rank it among the best ballparks in baseball. But it’s fan-friendly, family-friendly, transportation-friendly and wallet-friendly, and I can’t say all four of those things about too many ballparks, not even Fenway or Wrigley. It’s perfectly wonderful for one thing: watching baseball.

Which, as we may have forgotten in the age of millennial-friendly party areas, luxury suites and restaurants (and GABP has all of those too), is why the venues are built in the first place.

If you want to know more about all of the cool things that make Great American great, try reading one of these.

 

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A Cheap Reds Ticket – And More

Posted by Kurt Smith

Finding a cheap Reds ticket and other deals in my trip to Cincinnati wasn’t difficult. Because of what I do, I’ve learned a few tricks to get the most for my dollar at the ballpark…taking advantage of special offers, giveaway nights, etc.

On my second day in Cincinnati, I hit the trifecta of bang for the ballpark buck.

I usually get the cheapest seat I can get at the game, because when I’m running around taking pictures I’m usually not sitting in that seat much anyway, and it’s usually well into the game before I have an opportunity to sit. Even then, I’m restless thinking I’ve missed something.

cheap reds ticket fan zone

I probably should have checked this out…

So while I ordered a ticket for the Friday night game on StubHub, I decided to just buy the Saturday ticket at the box office, where there aren’t any fees. There were plenty of tickets available for the game, surprisingly, so I knew it wouldn’t be a problem.

Friday night I bought an Outer View Level seat for Saturday’s game for $11 and no fees. Not a great seat, of course, but I didn’t care.

cheap reds tickets kiosks

A few of the very prevalent kiosks at Great American. Maybe they don’t like talking to people.

Saturday night the Reds were giving out some fairly nice T-shirts…with “Reds” on the front in American flag colors, and Jay Bruce’s name and number 32 on the back (also in U.S. flag style). Jay Bruce sponsors a group called “Bruce’s Battalion”, and buys tickets for members of the military for most home games.

It’s a pretty nice T-shirt…would probably go for $30-35 at the ballpark, at least.

The Reds and LaRosa’s Pizza also run a very popular promotion: if the Reds pitchers strike out 11 batters in a game, LaRosa’s gives a free pizza to everyone at the ballpark. You read that right…LaRosa’s gives away upwards of 30,000 pizzas.

great american ball park larosas

LaRosa’s is pretty good as ballpark pizza goes. And I’m a pizza snob.

Mat Latos was on the mound for the Reds, and he sat down a bunch of swinging Mariners. The total mounted and the crowd became more enthusiastic with each whiff…eight, nine, then ten. By this point I was sitting high up in the rafters behind home plate, so I had a decent view of everything.

With ten strikeouts on the board some of the crowd started chanting “Pizza! Pizza!” every time a batter reached two strikes. At one point a Mariners hitter had two strikes on him and took a half-swing. The home plate umpire appealed to third base, who signaled safe, the batter didn’t swing. He was loudly booed!

Latos did soon pull it off, and the Reds faithful of course went nuts as the scoreboard informed them that they would all receive a free pizza. Then I saw on the bottom of the board: “starting tomorrow”. Unfortunately I was leaving town the next morning. Rats.

But Wade, the nice fellow running the Sharonville LaRosa’s, was happy to honor the ticket, and I got my first taste of LaRosa’s…which as it turns out is pretty good pizza, better than any of the well-known chains in my South Jersey neighborhood. It was a personal pie, certainly enough for one person and I was able to pile four toppings on it. And the price couldn’t be beat.

cheap reds ticket larosas scoreboard

If you want it today, you’re just gonna have to buy it here.

I think this is a great promotion for both the Reds and LaRosa’s…they could run commercials with the crowd chanting, and the “Pizza!” chant could become a Reds tradition. Then again, I’m not sure LaRosa’s wants to give out 35,000 pizzas so frequently…I’ve heard the Reds pitching has been costing them a lot of money this season.

Regardless, it was a great score for the author of Ballpark E-Guides. For a grand total of $11, I nailed down a cheap Reds ticket, a nice Reds T-shirt, and a delicious pizza. If you want to throw in the $1 O’Doul’s I drank for being a designated driver, then throw in a non-alcoholic beer for a total of $12. Probably close to $50 in value there at normal prices.

Not bad for a sport many people think they can’t afford anymore. But you can if you read one of these.

 

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The First Professional Baseball Team

Posted by Kurt Smith

I’ve always known that Cincinnati was the home of the first professional baseball team, but until I visited the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, it always puzzled me how the Red Stockings could be the first baseball team…because how could there be just one team? Wouldn’t they need someone to play against? Did they just stand on the field practicing until another team filled out all of the legal forms? Maybe they signed the contract for their ballpark the day before the Phillies did or something?

I wouldn’t say it kept me up at night, I knew there had to be an explanation, but it was just one of those things that puzzled me a bit.

But now I get it…one less thing to waste brain power pondering.

first professional baseball team signature reds

Even from way back in the days when they had no one to play against!

The Reds Hall tells the story—that the Red Stockings were the first professional team because they were the first team whose players were actually paid to play baseball. Other teams’ owners balked at the idea of ballplayers being professionals (some things never change), but the Red Stockings were willing to pay players. And by doing so, they attracted some of the best talent around. No doubt radio show hosts in other cities began demanding that their team owners start paying players.

This all-star team of professionals went on a tour in 1869 and won everywhere they went, finishing their first ever season unbeaten and actually drawing some crowds on the road. (I think hot dogs were $1.50 back then.) This was back in the days before gloves and catcher’s masks and the DH, proving that people will play baseball for money even if they’re risking life and limb.

Their second season was marked by dissolution and player bickering (that didn’t take long), despite that the team resumed its greatness, winning all but one game against the Brooklyn Atlantics, in an 11-inning affair. Eventually some players moved to Boston, as did the Red Stockings name—now the Red Sox, of course.

first professional baseball team statues

Did they even wear gloves back then?

The team disbanded, and then a new Red Stockings team joined the newly formed National League in 1876. This team was banned from the National League for…get this…serving beer at ballgames. Nowadays a team might be banned from the league for not serving beer.

Finally in 1881 another Red Stockings team (they loved that name for some reason) joined the rival American Association, and in 1889 they moved to the National League, replacing the bootlegging Red Stockings team that had been booted. In the move, they changed their name to the Reds, probably to save on stitching costs.

So the current incarnation of the Cincinnati Reds that we all know today wasn’t exactly the first professional baseball team, but you could argue that Cincinnati simply hit a few bumps in the road to become America’s first iconic baseball town.

There is a great deal of history when it comes to Cincinnati baseball, and it’s as good a place as any for a team to feature a Hall of Fame and Museum that is a microcosm of baseball’s Hall in Cooperstown. The Reds Hall of Fame is definitely worth the visit if you’re coming to Great American Ball Park, if only to learn how there could only be one “first professional baseball team”.

But of course, there’s a lot more to know about Great American. Be a smart fan and get yourself one of these.

 

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The Forgotten Team of 1919

Posted by Kurt Smith

The 1919 World Series and Black Sox scandal, even today, may have been baseball’s darkest hour. The revelation that eight players from one of the game’s historically best teams had thrown the Series was an earthshaking shock to fans across the country, it resulted in tough new rules that in turn resulted in the permanent expulsion of one of the game’s greatest players, and it’s been poignantly immortalized in literature and cinema.

Much of the focus of the 1919 Series today is, obviously, on the Black Sox and on Shoeless Joe Jackson, the superstar Sox outfielder for whom fans seem to have the most sympathy.

balck sox scandal white sox

And Shoeless Joe is still one of their best known players.

The book and movie “Eight Men Out” paint a picture of a few ballplayers furious at their penny-pinching owner, falling in with a crooked crowd and ultimately getting thrown out of baseball forever. The book “Shoeless Joe”, and subsequent “Field of Dreams” movie, fictionally chronicle the return of Shoeless Joe Jackson to a corn field in Iowa and his ultimate redemption.

What gets lost in the story is the World Series winner…a Cincinnati Reds team that no one believed stood a chance against the mighty White Sox.

At the Reds Hall of Fame, a film is shown about the history of the Cincinnati Reds. The team’s second World Series title in 1940 is said to have brought a collective sigh of relief to the city…they had finally won a World Series honestly.

black sox scandal reds world series

Yes, 1919 is in there.

There are some folks who believe that the Reds would have beaten the White Sox even if a few of the Sox’s best players hadn’t agreed to make Arnold Rothstein richer.

Everything is possible in baseball. The 1990 World Series between the Reds and the loaded Oakland Athletics seemed like a mismatch, but the Reds not only won, they swept the Series convincingly. If someone questioned the legitimacy of the 1969 Series when the Miracle Mets topped the Orioles, they wouldn’t have been laughed at.

The 1919 Reds, despite not having been any great shakes before that season, were hardly pushovers. They won 96 games—the White Sox won just 88—and while they had little in offensive might beyond Edd Roush and Heinie Groh, they did possess a tremendous pitching staff. Dutch Reuther was 19-6 with a 1.82 ERA; Hod Eller was 19-9, 2.39; Ray Fisher was 14-5 and 2.17. That is some mean starting pitching.

A staff that strong, presumably, would have an edge in a short series…as we saw in 1988, 2010 and in many other triumphs of the underdog. As my father always said, good pitching always stops good hitting. (It’s kind of ironic that the first NL champion Reds team had little offense but great pitching, while the later Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s were just the opposite. Don’t tell Reds fans it’s all about pitching.)

Looking at some details of the 1919 Series, it’s certainly possible to see ways that the Reds could have triumphed in a clean contest.

black sox scandal white sox pennant

This was their slogan in 2011, I believe. Ironic in retrospect.

Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver played too well for players supposedly trying to lose. Jackson hit .375, the highest in the Series, and threw out five baserunners, while Weaver hit .324, well above his .272 lifetime average.

It’s fair to say Weaver was telling the truth about his unwillingness to participate, and it’s not hard to believe Jackson’s similar assertion…Shoeless Joe did have a .286 average in games the White Sox lost, but that could arguably be attributed to better Reds pitching on the mound for those games, and in a short series, that is probably only 2-3 hits.

Three other players in the fix, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsch and Swede Risberg, had lifetime averages of .277, .293 and .243, respectively…good hitters if not great, but it’s not as though it’s positive they would have been the offensive difference had they been playing to win. Gandil hit .290 in 1919 and .233 in the Series; Felsch hit .275 and .192; Risberg, .256 and .080 in the Series (Risberg did walk five times, when strikeouts would have been easiest to fake).

That’s significant, I won’t argue, but for Gandil and Felsch only one or two more hits in the Series would have been normal for them. The other position player in on the scandal, Fred McMullin, was a utility infielder who had only two at-bats in the Series.

black sox scandal reds statues

“Great win guys! They almost played their butts off!”

With the Reds pitching as strong as it was, it’s not hard to imagine that even if the White Sox were on the up-and-up, that the Reds pitching could still have effectively shut them down. The Sox scored just 20 runs in eight games, and that’s with two of their best hitters hardly whiffing on each at bat. It was the deliberate errors during games, and the meatball pitches from Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, that lost the Series for the White Sox.

So what if Cicotte and Williams had performed to their considerable abilities? Cicotte’s ERA was 1.82 in the 1919 season; had he given up two runs in his starts—probably questionable given the Reds offense, but for the sake of argument—that might have been enough for the Reds to have won Game 1 and possibly Game 4, since the White Sox scored a total of just one run in those games.

Lefty Williams’s ERA that year was 2.64; the Sox scored just two runs in Game 2, so that could have turned out as a Reds victory as well. Williams obviously handed the win to the Reds in Game 8, so it’s hard to say whether the Reds would have won there.

black sox scandal reds hall trophy

It’s moot.

I’m not trying to positively assert that the Reds would have won in 1919 had the Series been clean; bookmakers were going heavily with the White Sox before the rumors of a fix, and they usually know what they’re doing, as anyone who bets on football knows.

I’m only suggesting that the 1919 Cincinnati Reds deserve some credit for a National League championship, a 96-win season and for a stellar pitching staff, and that there are conceivable scenarios where in a legitimate Series, the Reds could have taken down the mighty White Sox after all. Stranger things have happened.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

 

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