OMGreds was in attendance during yesterday’s early half of the doubleheader. We didn’t end up watching the game intently, which may have been for the best, because we were rubbing elbows with members of the Reds 1961 NL Championship team. The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum put together a great event to commemorate the “Ragamuffin Reds” while the Yankees where in town. After all, the Reds took on the great ’61 Yankees team in the World Series, losing four games to one.
Of the fans in attendance, I was definitely skewing the median age sharply downward. Don’t take that as a negative though, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with folks that were big Reds fans during the ’60s, making trips to Crosley Field by bus or by train. Getting to feel their excitement for that ’61 team, and seeing them shake the hands of some of their childhood idols was a real treat. It makes you wonder about what memories are on the way during your own trip as a Reds fan.
The reunion was held in the Riverfront Club during the 12:35 businessman’s special. It’s a great spot at the park to get a great buffet-style meal, but for the great view it offers, you do feel disconnected from the ballgame. The roar of the crowd and other sounds of the game are very muted. It was no matter to me, though. Getting to sit and chat with Reds pitching legend Jim Maloney and his wife, Lyn, at length was more than a blast.
The real treat though, was after the game when all 8 of the returning players, Leo Cardenas, Jerry Lynch, Jim Maloney, Jim O’Toole, Gene Freese, Joe Gaines, Jay Hook and Claude Osteen, answered questions from the fans. WCPO’s Sports Director and Anchor, John Popovich, hosted the Q & A session.
Many players shared their stories about Manager Fred Hutchinson, and expressed their deep respect for the Reds’ Hall of Fame skipper. Others spoke of specific games, or talked about how they made ends meet in the off-season with other jobs. Jim O’Toole mentioned that when the Reds were returning from a road trip at the end of the ’61 season where they had just learned they won the pennant, they traveled by bus from the airport to a Fountain Square filled with thousands of fans ready to greet them with enthusiasm. So much enthusiasm that fans were rocking the the Reds bus from side to side, giving the players a bit of a scare. After the celebration, they had more celebrating to do that night with a party hosted at the Hilton Netherland. O’Toole mentioned that Hutchinson sang Sinatra songs into the night. Quite a different party than the one 2010 Reds had after they clinched the Central Division Title, I would imagine.
The best part of the whole Q&A was whenever Jerry Lynch had the microphone. The man is flat-out hilarious and full of energy. I really wish I had something to share (video, transcript, etc.) that articulates how Jerry had the room in stitches, but alas, you’ll have to trust me on this one.
All-in-all, it was a great reason to play hookie from work and catch a ballgame and be surrounded by real Cincinnati Reds history. The Reds Hall of Fame continues to put together events of all sizes (and price points) that give the fans something special.
Alright, how about some photos?