Red’s Game

I was in grade school in the mid 40’s, and many times on a summer night we would walk from Corryville to Crosley field to see a Red’s game. Usually, our walking path would take us to St. Monica by way of McMillan Street. We then would head down Ravine Street, follow the road in Fairview Park and then take the steps leading down the steep hillside. We crossed Central Parkway using the overhead pedestrian bridge and then walked another 10 minutes to the ball field.

Nearer the stadium, we would see neighborhood kids from the West End asking persons parking on the street if they would like for them to watch their car while they were at the game. A form of “protection” we thought. (Later, when I was old enough to drive my own car, I would always give them something to “watch my car”. Why take the chance, I thought.) I never, ever saw any of them "watching cars" after the game had started. 

We had to watch our spending money and would usually buy tickets for the bleachers. I wouldn’t want to sit there on a hot afternoon but nighttime was just fine. And maybe we would have chance to catch a ball if Big Klu hit one over the fence. I think I recall paying 25 cents to get in to the game but can’t remember for sure. Maybe, it was a special rate for kids on a weeknight game in the bleachers.

I can still taste the hot dogs. They were so good on the steamed bun with a good squirt of mustard that I would pump from the big jar. A cold Coke would wash it down.

I never caught a ball, nor did any of my friends. We did bring our baseball gloves, but we gave up on that after a while. There were a few occasions when we had seats in the regular part of the stadium. It was awesome. Imagine, sitting in the shade in a seat with a back and arms. And you could see the players and maybe recognize their faces. It would be a real thrill to see big Ted Kluszewski on first base.

After the game we would retrace our steps, but now we had to go up the hill, a long steep hill. Once in a while we would buy a snow cone from a little grocery in the West End before heading up the steps. I remember that I got a red-colored topping that coated the shredded ice in the cone-shaped paper cup.

On more than one occasion, we would stand on the pedestrian walkway crossing Central parkway and sip on our snow cones. When we had our fill, it was time to “play bombardier”.  Hitting a passing cars windshield was a low probability. You needed to have great timing to get a hit. Most of the time, the icy water landed in the street after the car had passed.

If we were lucky enough to hit one, we ran like crazy thinking that somehow the motorist would somehow find fast-footed little kids running up the hillside. I always remembered these innocent pranks through the years when I was on the “other end” of things, and saw myself in the kids who might throw a snowball at my car or break a branch from my tree. It’s just part of growing up, and usually everyone turns out just fine.