The Queen City & Opening Day

Originally published on March 31, 2014

“It’s a holiday—a baseball holiday! Ain’t no other place in America got that!". -- Sparky Anderson

The Cincinnati Reds open with a home game every year. Many people know that it is a tribute to the Redlegs' place in history as the first professional baseball team. It is tradition that baseball has rightfully kept alive since the late 1800's. The exact reason, "why" the tradition started is somewhat fuzzy.

"Why the Reds were granted this honor in the first place has been lost to history, although it appears it was a combination of geography, opportunism, and money," writes Greg Rhodes, the Reds' Team Historian. "In the early days of the National League, the Reds opened at home every season and apparently this was due to Cincinnati's location as the southern-most city in the league."

Much of the success of the Queen City's claim to Opening Day fame can be attributed to a gentleman named Frank Bancroft, who was business manager of the Reds. As baseball gained in national popularity around the turn of the century, Bancroft, or "Banny" as he was warmly referred to, used the scheduling as a marketing advantage, and worked to tirelessly promote the home opener on an annual basis. Bancroft is remembered as the "Father of Opening Day" for this reason.

Rhodes adds that by..."1900, the game was almost always sold out. The success insured that the Reds kept getting the opener at home. Why jeopardize an almost guaranteed sell-out? The visiting clubs didn’t argue; after all they got a cut of the gate.And nearly everybody, in fact, was at the park."

As baseball modernizes with society, and we're seeing changes to the "grand ole game" including: the abolishment of home plate collisions, the introduction of instant replay, wild card play-in games, The World Baseball Classic, globalization of the game, and many other - mostly good - changes, it's nice to see baseball hang on to a century-plus old tradition.