Reds fans: ‘There is no Opening Day like in Cincinnati; an excitement of a new season’

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Nothing seems normal about Opening Day 2022.

The Cincinnati Reds opened the season on the road and split the four-game series against the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves. It was the third time since 1890 the Reds opened away from home.

The 1966 team started the season in Philadelphia after its three-game series against the New York Mets at Crosley Field was rained out.

Then the 1990 World Champion Reds started on the road against the Houston Astros because a lockout delayed the start of Spring Training, preventing a season opener at Riverfront Stadium.

And now the Reds open the home portion of their season at 4:10 p.m. today at Great American Ball Park against an American League team with a new name, the Cleveland Guardians.

But don’t tell longtime Reds fans all that changes the significance of Opening Day, considered a holiday in the Queen City.

Great American Ball Park is expected to welcome a standing-room only crowd after pre-game festivities begin with the Findlay Market Parade with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin serving as grand marshal, then the block party continues on the Banks surrounding the stadium.

Two years ago, due to COVID-19 concerns, only Reds personnel, media and cardboard cutouts of fans were permitted in the stadium. And last year, again due to COVID-19, attendance in Ohio’s professional stadiums was reduced to 30% capacity by Gov. Mike DeWine.

The year the fans, parade and block party are back and temperatures at first pitch are expected to reach 70 degrees.

Chris Lykins, 40, of West Chester, has attended about 10 Opening Days and compared the atmosphere at those games to that of the playoffs.

“This truly is something to look forward to after a long winter,” said Lykins, a 1999 Lakota East High School graduate. “It’s a city-wide holiday.”

Being raised a Reds fan typically is passed down from generation to generation, he said. His grandfather and father both followed the Reds. Lykins will be at today’s game with his parents, Larry and Kim Lykins.

While some have predicted the Reds will lose 100 games, Lyons is more positive. He’s excited about two rookie pitchers, Hunter Greene, 22, and Nick Lodolo, 24.

“They will be entertaining to watch,” Lykins said.

Shawn Sparks and his wife, Jessica, will spend a couple of days in Cincinnati during the first homestand of the season. The 49-year-old Dayton native has attended 15 to 20 openers, he said. They will be there when the parade kicks off and stay until the last pitch.

“There is no Opening Day like in Cincinnati,” said Sparks, who has attended other baseball season openers in different cities. “There is a feeling in the air, an excitement of a new season.”

Sparks, born in 1972, about the time the Big Red Machine first revved its engine, said he remembers talking to a neighbor once who said he was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. At the time, that didn’t make any sense to the young Sparks.

“It was the greatest team and people across the country love the Reds,” he said. “I don’t know anything else but to be a Reds fan.”

Karen Reed, 56, of Fairfield, wasn’t planning to attend this year’s Opening Day because of her frustrations with Reds ownership after several key players were traded in the off-season.

“I wasn’t giving them a dime,” she said.

Then the Reds announced Joe Burrow, the Bengals quarterback, was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was presenting the Rookie of the Year award to second baseman Jonathan India.

“Good marketing,” she said. “That hooked me in.”

So Reed, who works for Kroger in downtown Cincinnati, went to the stadium and purchased a $35 standing-room only ticket. She’s looking forward to today, despite the low expectations for the team.

“People are so happy, so hopeful,” she said. “It’s Cincinnati where Opening Day is amazing.”

Alex Wallace, 28, of Hamilton, has attended about five Opening Days, but he’s out of town this year. Still, since he’s working in Atlanta, he saw Greene make his Major League debut on Sunday, a 6-3 Reds win.

He said he’s “always optimistic” when it comes to the Reds, but ownership has “spoiled” some of his enthusiasm.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

About the Author