CINCINNATI (AP) -- Rose and Morgan, Bench and Perez, Seaver and
Browning, the Nasty Boys and the Big Red Machine.
Nostalgia washed over the Cincinnati Reds as they closed their
'70s-era ballpark Sunday with a wave of feel-good memories and
another reality-check loss.
The ballpark opened with a loss in 1970 as Riverfront Stadium
and closed with another loss under a different name.
"There was so much history and tradition here, you wanted to go
out and win it,'' said Ken Griffey Jr., who was 0-for-11 in the
series. "We just didn't do it. When you see all the guys who came
before us walking around the stadium and doing all the fun things,
that means something.''
After Todd Walker grounded out to second base to end an era, the
Reds introduced 52 luminaries from their Riverfront days on the
field. Missing was Pete Rose, who got record-setting hit No. 4,192
at the stadium in 1985 but is banned from baseball for life for
He wasn't forgotten by the crowd or his contemporaries.
Tom Browning, who pitched a perfect game here in 1988, got a can
of red spray paint and put Rose's No. 14 on the mound after the
game. The crowd of 40,964 chanted "Pete! Pete!'' as home plate was
dug up and driven next door to Great American Ball Park.
Rose is supposed to play in a celebrity softball game at Cinergy
"You could sense the crowd wanted some sort of acknowledgment
of Pete, so I went and got some spray paint,'' Browning said.
"He's going to be here tomorrow, but it would have been nice today
to see him be a part of this. I don't think it would have taken too
much to get him to be part of this.''
The Reds asked baseball for permission to include Rose in the
ceremonies, but were turned down. Chief operating officer John
Allen said the club would have faced major penalties, such as a
fine, firings or loss of draft picks, if it had defied baseball and
"We didn't suspend him, we can't unsuspend him,'' Allen said.
Brandon Duckworth (7-9) gave up two runs in seven innings. Jose
Mesa got his third save of the series, setting a club record with
"Any time you think of the Cincinnati Reds, you think of the
Big Red Machine and all the history that's gone on here,''
Duckworth said. "It's unbelievable. It kind of holds you a little
The outcome was quickly relegated to a footnote. The Reds and
Phillies were more absorbed in the end of a shared era.
The two franchises have traded stars -- Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony
Perez left the Big Red Machine and went to Philadelphia as the
"Wheeze Kids,'' leading the Phillies to the 1983 World Series. The
cities also are linked by their "cookie-cutter'' stadiums, which
were in the forefront of baseball's move into the turf era.
Now, they're coming down in quick succession.
Riverfront had the first wall-to-wall turf and sliding pits when
it opened in June 1970. Three Rivers Stadium opened in Pittsburgh
later that season, and Veterans Stadium opened in Philadelphia in
Three Rivers is gone, Riverfront will soon become parking space,
and the Vet will come down after next season. Phillies executives
accompanied the team to Cincinnati to get some ideas for their
"I know what a lot of fans think and how they'd like to see
these stadiums blown up, but a lot of sentimental things have gone
on in both stadiums,'' Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.
Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson threw a ceremonial first
pitch -- three, actually. His first lob from the mound bounced past
Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench.
Bench moved in front of the plate for a retry, and Anderson
threw it over his head. Finally, Anderson got next to the plate and
made a clean, short toss that drew a loud ovation.
It was a reminder of a time when Riverfront Stadium was the
place to be.
"If you didn't play in Cincinnati, you didn't play in the major
leagues,'' Anderson said. "The people supported these players like
you've never seen. There was excitement every night.''
Former Reds owner Marge Schott -- the focus of many of the
franchise's worst moments in the 1990s -- gave players from both
teams a peck on the cheek and a pat on the chest during pregame
Manager Bob Boone was loudly booed when he came out to replace
Rijo and shortstop Barry Larkin as part of a double-switch in the
fifth. Rijo and Larkin got a curtain call.
"That was awesome,'' Rijo said. "We're the only two players
left from the 1990 World Series team.''
Rijo pitched some of the most historic games at the stadium,
winning the World Series MVP award as he led the Reds to a sweep of
There's been little to cheer in the last two years, when the
stadium got grass and was reconfigured to make space for the new
ballpark. The Reds lost a franchise-record 54 home games last year,
and finished this season 38-43 at Cinergy.
The first hit at Riverfront Stadium was a single by Rose.
The last was Jason Michaels' infield single in the ninth. ... The
first homer was by Hank Aaron, who tied Babe Ruth's career homer
mark at Riverfront four years later. The last homer was Aaron
Boone's solo shot in the eighth. ... One red rose was left on the
field behind home plate during the game in honor of Rose.