For six years I have participated in the Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography Reading in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the first week of June. Each year, I attend a few Reds games (and blogged about last year’s visit to the park – read it here). However, one thing I had not done until this year’s visit was tour the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. I didn’t plan on visiting it this year either, but when I saw that the museum was giving away a special Pete Rose bobblehead with admission during my first weekend in town I felt like I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
So following the Friday night game, I bought the bobblehead and received a voucher that would give me admission to the museum on Saturday or Sunday. With Saturday’s game starting at 4:05 p.m., I decided that was the best time to explore the museum with a couple of friends from the AP Reading.Before reaching the ticket desk there is an excellent statue and display commemorating the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings’s barnstorming tour of the United States at the first all-professional baseball club. A map also displays the team’s 57 stops across America, which helped expose professional baseball to a variety of cities. Currently, the rotating exhibit is “Red to Bronze.” It details how the team and local artist Tom Tsuchiya have created the eight bronze statues outside the stadium and the ninth (one of Pete Rose dedicated after my visit). The exhibit features cases dedicated to each of the nine men who now have a bronze statue outside Great American Ball Park.
Just past the current rotating exhibit is a theater that features a film detailing the history of the Cincinnati Reds. The most unique part is the entrance, which is crafted to replicate the entrance of the Palace of the Fans (home of the Reds from 1902-11). On the way to the rest of the museum, fans walk up a flight of stairs. However, these stairs overlook the Rose Garden, so instead of just ascending stairs fans get to take in the flowers and 4,256 baseballs to commemorate Pete Rose’s number of career hits. The Rose Garden also contains a special feature to honor Rose for becoming MLB’s all-time hits leader. As previously mentioned, towering over the Rose Garden is a wall of baseballs. At the top of the steps is a display dedicated to Pete Rose’s career accomplishments.
There are so many more pictures I could have shared from the display, but then this post may turn into a complete Pete Rose love fest. One of my friends touring the museum with me noted that because Rose is ineligible to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame that the Reds turned this exhibit into Pete Rose’s personal hall of fame. Whether you love, like, or hate Pete Rose the exhibit is really amazing and worth seeing if you truly appreciate his role within baseball history.
From the expected to perhaps the absurd, no museum would be complete without an off-beat piece in its collection. Baseball fans who lived through the 1980s will remember the Reds’s eccentric/controversial owner Marge Schott affinity for her Saint Bernard dog, Schottzie (see a photo from SI). When the Reds won the 1990 World Series, she had a specialty made championship dog collar made for Schottzie, which is on display.For people with kids, the rest of the museum will be worth the price of admission. Play Ball! has a clubhouse for kids, a strike zone display that allows fans to see how fast they can throw a ball, and perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser is an interactive menu that allows people to build their own baseball card. Additionally, there is a giant display of Reds bobbleheads. Naturally, I was quite excited checking out the various iterations that team has given away over the years. Adult fans can enjoy the various games in the Play Ball! exhibit or relive some of the Reds’ greatest moments and give their own call at The Reds are on the Radio exhibit. Or bask in the Ultimate Reds Room presented by Moerlein Lager House. Baseball fans who lived through the 1970s and best remember the Reds as “The Big Red Machine” can relish those memories in the Glory Days exhibit. Glory Days features a statue depicting some of the greatest Reds ever and has three of the team’s World Series trophies on display.
The last exhibit in the museum is the Hall of Fame, which features plaques celebrating the achievements of the halls. I didn’t feel it necessary to capture pictures of each set of plaques, but believe two photos are worth sharing because of their importance to the team’s history.
A tour of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum concludes with fans filtering out into the team store, but with a unique twist. Fans get to overlook a giant replica of the Reds’ 1990 World Series trophy. Although I did not grow up a Cincinnati Reds fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the museum and hall of fame. The team does an outstanding job of preserving and presenting its rich history, which is deeply entwined with professional baseball’s history in the United States. I admittedly bought the ticket and toured the museum because I really wanted the Pete Rose bobblehead, but in hindsight I would have been just as pleased touring the museum even if I did not receive the bobblehead. Baseball fans visiting Cincinnati, whether they get to attend a Reds’ game, should absolutely check out the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.