Looking back at the 5 best baseball games I’ve ever been to
I didn’t venture anywhere near Great American Ballpark in 2022. I also didn’t go to Wrigley Field or St. Louis or even the South Side of Chicago to watch Tony LaRussa sleep through a game. I used to ‘follow’ the games I went to; I would write down the date, the score, and anything notable that happened, but I got out of that good habit years ago.
So while it slowly dawned on me that we will have David Bell as our beloved manager in 2023 and understanding that the Reds organization has a philosophy of firing the workers instead of the boss, I reflected on the best times with the red ones and then they are listed. five of the best games I’ve ever seen in person.
Johnny Bench home run #388
I didn’t see his home run on Johnny Bench night at Riverfront Stadium, but I did see it earlier at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It was a Sunday afternoon, and naturally Reds manager Russ Nixon didn’t start him that day. The Reds were trailing 4-1 in the 9thth and Cardinal closer Bruce Sutter was on the mound when Bench was sent in as a batter and two runners on base. Luckily, I got a photo of Bench hooking up with a 35mm zoom lens and he signed it (and asked me for a couple of copies).
The Reds and Nixon eventually lost the game 5-4 and finished in last place in 1983, but that day, it didn’t hurt that much.
Every opening day is special, right? Just like 2022 and Phil Castellini. Reds fans will always remember him. Me too, but 1984 is special to me because it’s the only one I’ve been to and the Reds tied the New York Mets that day behind Mario Soto’s pitching and Eddie Milner’s bat.
Not related to the Reds, but this was my first game at Sportsmans Park in St. Louis in 1965. I had two older brothers, one a Dodger fan and the other a Cardinal fan. But I still got to go and watch Koufax strike out 13 Redbirds in a 2-1 win over Ray Sadecki.
I couldn’t take my eyes off Koufax. I couldn’t believe how hard he threw. It’s still one of my all-time favorites.
Jay Bruce’s home run
I had my best seat at Great American Ballpark to watch Jay Bruce clinch the 2010 Central Division title with his 9th walk-off home run for a historic walk. I requested the seat on my way to Cincinnati that morning. I stayed in Kentucky. He crossed the river. I took a late cab in Kentucky.
Tony Perez won the game
I was devastated when Bob Howsam traded Perez for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray after the 1976 season. The move was more to get Dan Driessen in the lineup and the return was awful. The Reds Opening Day in 1977, Fryman resigned halfway through that season. It was one of Howsam’s worst trades ever. Regardless, when Tony Perez returned as a player to Cincinnati, I saw what he did best: get a clutch late game-winning hit and he did it against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 2, 1986.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 10th with the bases loaded and one out, manager Pete Rose pinch-hit Tony Perez for Rose and Perez delivered with a game-winning double. John Franco got the win.
Driessen turned out to be good, but not great. He’s in the Reds Hall of Fame and I have no problem with that. I liked The Cobra. But Tony Perez will always be a special Cincinnati Red to me. Always.
Your best game in person? Share it with the Nation.
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