Crosley Field Historical Analysis

The Cincinnati Reds have played at eight ballparks, erected in five locations, since their professional debut in 1869. Historian, author and webmaster Chuck Foertmeyer of www.crosley-field.com shares with Baseball Almanac this historical overview of Crosley Field and the other seven Cincinnati Reds ballparks.

Union Grounds was their first home, located about two blocks directly south of the future Crosley Field. The Reds played here from 1867 to 1870, when the team disbanded. Union Grounds was located just about where the fountain is now in front of the Cincinnati Museum Center (Union Terminal).

In 1876, the Reds reformed and built the Avenue Grounds, about one mile north of Union Grounds. This park was eventually discovered to be just too far from downtown to be practical. So, in 1880, they moved south again, to the Bank Street Grounds, located about two blocks north of the future Crosley Field. This stay was short-lived, also.

Losing their lease at Bank Street, [ironically, to the new Union Association, Cincinnati Unions (referred to as the Onions)] the Reds moved south two blocks to Findlay and Western, building League Park in 1884 on an old brick yard. They stayed at this location for 86 years, until 1970, playing in the three parks erected on this site [League Park (1884-1901), Palace of the Fans (1902-1911), and Redland/Crosley Field (1912-1970)].

Harry Hake designed Redland Field at a cost of $225,000. The field remained Redland Field until 1934 when Powel Crosley, Jr. purchased the Reds, and the ballpark, and renamed the park Crosley Field.

In 1933, the directors of Cincinnati's Central Trust Bank hired Larry MacPhail to run the Reds. Mac Phail's first task is to bring some talent to the team. 1934, MacPhail convinces Powel Crosley, Jr. to purchase the controlling interest in the Reds and Redland Field. MacPhail's appeal was to Crosley's civic pride. Crosley did not want to see the city lose its team. He never anticipated making any money with the team; he only hoped to minimize his losses. He purchased both the team and the ballpark for less than $500,000. MACPHAIL INSISTED THAT CROSLEY RENAME THE PARK AFTER HIMSELF, AND THE PARK BECAME CROSLEY FIELD.

Also in 1934, the original Redland Field scoreboard was extensively remodeled with an art deco flavor. Larry MacPhail was a promoter with a talent and flair for creating excitement. At the outset of the 1934 season, to quote Lee Allen (The Cincinnati Reds, 1948), "MacPhail had painted the park, he had dolled up the ushers, and installed cigarette girls so cute they made the customers want to smoke themselves to death".

During the 58 years the Reds played at Crosley Field, Crosley was also used for Negro League games, circuses, concerts, rodeos, boxing matches, auto thrill shows, parades, etc. Crosley was also the host to the first Major League night game, played under the lights on May 24, 1935.

Crosley Field was a great place to take in a ball game. So why, after all those years, did it finally die? The fan base moving to suburbia and the automobile killed it. Crosley had always been a ballpark that was walked to or arrived at on a streetcar. But, in the 1950's that all changed. The fans began driving themselves to the games, and massive traffic jams became a nightmare, both going to and leaving the ballgames. Game starts even had to be delayed at times due to the patrons being stuck in traffic. Under threat of the team leaving Cincinnati (probably for San Diego), the city began buying the surrounding property and building parking lots. With the surrounding neighborhood gone, Crosley Field lost its charm and character. It was now an island in a sea of parking lots. The neighborhood declined, and crime prevailed around the park. Patrons no longer felt safe going to Crosley Field, and police manned the roof of the park with binoculars and radios, trying to spot vandals and thieves working the parking lots. Enough was enough, and the decision was made to move.

Finally, in mid-season 1970, the Reds moved to Riverfront Stadium. This marked the first time the Reds had ever played anywhere other than the west side of Cincinnati. Crosley Field, now abandoned, became an impound lot for automobiles, and was finally torn down in 1972 for development as commercial property.

In the year 2003 the Reds moved from Riverfront Stadium (renamed Cinergy Field) to their new home, The Great American Ball Park, built right next door, as play continued through 2002 at Cinergy Field.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"Crosley Field was an oasis in the middle of a brick and smokestack-filled desert, a bright green carpet covering a small piece of Cincinnati's drab, deteriorating West End. It was a colorful Mecca in a sometimes-gray world, a place of renewal and rejuvenation. Life was simple there — the baseball was entertaining, the heroes were friendly and everybody had fun, no bad times permitted." - The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic (The Sporting News, 2000)

Crosley Field

Crosley Field

Aerial View / West Side of Crosley Field

Major League Occupant(s)

First Game
04-11-1912
Reds 10 vs Cubs 6
Last Game
Reds 5 vs Giants 4

Crosley Field

Crosley Field

Crosley Field from behind Home Plate

Negro League Occupant(s)

Cuban Stars
1921 through 1921
Cincinnati Tigers
1937 through 1937
Cincinnati Clowns
1942 through 1945

Crosley Field

Crosley Field

Crosley Field Decks from Right Field

Ballpark Capacity & Attendance

Capacity Changes
( Yearly Attendance )
1912
25,000
1927
30,000
1938
33,000
1948
30,000
1952
29,980
1958
29,603
1960
30,328
1961
30,274
1964
29,603
Highest Attendance
08-29-1943
38,017

Crosley Field

Crosley Field Scoreboard

Crosley Field Score Board

Ballpark Dimensions

Backstop
1912
38'
1927
58'
1943
66'
1953
78'
Left Field
1912
360'
1921
320'
1926
352'
1927
339'
1938
328'
Left Center
1912
380'
Center Field
1912
420'
1926
417'
1927
395'
1930
393'
1931
407'
1933
393'
1936
407'
1938
387'
1939
380'
1940
387'
1944
390'
1955
387'
Right Center
1955
383'
Right Field
1912
360'
1921
384'
1926
400'
1927
383'
1938
366'
1942
342'
1950
366'
1953
342'
1958
366'

Crosley Field

Crosley Field Final Game Ticket Stub

Crosley Field Final Game Ticket Stub

Miscellaneous Items of Interest

Field Surface
Grass
All-Star Games
( All-Star Game Menu )
World Series Games
( World Series Menu )
Crosley Field Historical Analysis
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

On May 24, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt turned on six-hundred Crosley Field stadium lights by pushing a button five-hundred miles away. He was at the White House in Washington, D.C. and officially started the first night game in Major League history.

In the right center corner where the concrete met the field fence were the words "Batted ball hitting concrete wall on fly to right of white line - home run." Also, on the center field wall, to the right of the scoreboard, another ground rule was stated; a batted ball going behind the scoreboard, and remaining behind it, was a double. These two sets of painted words are the only ground rules ever painted on a stadium's outfield walls..

Did you know that Ernie Lombardi once hit a home run over the center field wall which landed in the back of a moving pick-up truck that traveled another twenty-five miles before stopping?

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