There was a time not too long ago when you didn’t walk the streets of Cincinnati after dark and the avenues of the great city were scarce and lifeless. Yet even during those times, there was one thing that you could be assured of happening — step foot in any local restaurant or apartment and the sounds of the Cincinnati Reds would be broadcast for all to hear.
The love affair between the Reds and their Queen City faithful is a unique one. It’s an affair full of pure jubilee, excitement, heart break, enthusiasm, knowledge and love that dates back over 13 decades. Through world championships, scandals and historic performances, Cincinnati has always been the baseball town.
In order to best understand such a relationship, you must first understand the city of Cincinnati. Made up of citizens that best represent the term “blue collar”, the Queen City is full of hard working people who give everything to their jobs and families. It is that mindset that best explains the type of players Cincinnati falls in love with.
Take Pete Rose for example. While hardly the most talented player in the majors, he played with more heart than anyone to ever play the game. Not only did he go about his job the same way as Cincinnatians, but he was a Queen City guy, born in the same city that he represented. He was blue collar, gritty and ruthless. He was Cincinnati.
For Barry Larkin, the same could be said; a Cincinnati kid, he never left. Unlike Rose, Larkin possessed some of the most raw talent the city (and major leagues) had ever seen. His success and accolades gave the city something nationally to call their own; “our guy” is how Cincinnati referred to their shortstop.
Then there was Joe Nuxhall. The youngest player who has, and most likely ever will, play the game of baseball was another product of the Queen City. And while Nuxhall is known for his history at 15, it was his time in the radio booth that made him invincible in Cincinnati. Where Rose represented the grit and Larkin represented the skill, Nuxhall was Cincinnati’s heart and compassion.
What the Reds give to the city of Cincinnati is hope and distraction. For a few hours a night, the stress and struggles of life take a backseat to the game between the lines of the diamond. For a few hours a night the rigorous responsibilities of the blue collared lifestyle halt as a city rallies behind its team. And for a few hours a night, the fears of a world in question are calmed by a game that is as much of this city as anything else.
So you see, for Cincinnati, baseball is life. And no matter how much the city complains about scores and records, the fans’ love affair with the Cincinnati Reds will continue to stand the test of time.