From the Souvenir Program of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club – Upon the dedication of the Grand Stand at National League Base Ball Park Cincinnati, Ohio – May 16th, 1902
At National League Base Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, Friday, May 16, 1902
We are gathered here today to dedicate the most magnificent structure of its kind in the world. This pretty and massive crescent of concrete. iron and steel will shelter thousands of the great Middle West after many of us have passed away. It will long tower as a fitting monument to the intrepid business acumen of two sportsmen – Mr. John T. Brush and Mr. N. Ashley Lloyd. Viewed from the standpoint of a practical art, it is difficult to imagine anything more beautiful and durable. Would it be too fanciful to compare it with the great architectural structures, which, by their massive strength. have managed to survive the ravages of barbarism and the wrecks of time in the centuries now dead? Bring forth an Egyptian obelisk – with its quaint Oriental Hieroglyphics – and within its falling shadow start the murmuring of a sweet-voiced fountain – and the effort is easy to conjure the pristine conception of the Moorish Courts of the Alhambra. Viewed even as the miniatures (sic) sextant. is it not aptly suggestive of the greatest amphitheater the genius of man ever designed and today the King of Ruins – the Colosseum (sic) of Rome? True it is, the extant ruins of the once majestic and gigantic monument of the ancient Roman arena, where the gladiatorial contests were held, were commonly visited by eighty-seven thousand spectators. With due respect for mathematical proportions the kindred association of ideas is nevertheless easily accounted for, and in the camera of the local admirer of the “Palace of the Fans” may be aptly developed a ready vision of the ancient Flavian arena – even though it be diminished to the undersize of a dim perspective.
It would not be surprising if Billy Hoy’s first glaring error for the season would be attributed to this composite picture of vision and historical memory. As he relieves his fidgety action and covering the man at the bat with a furtive glance at this luminous grand stand – with its mass of swaying fans, or restless quitters – will not the mute’s quick activity of thought find facial transition to the scene of the old Roman holiday?
While “Noodles” Hahn, the King of the southpaws – past or present – is effectively taking the tantalizing measure of Van Haltern, Doyle, Brodie, or Lauder, and force an act that brought fame and fortune to Gus Hill – club swinging – may not our brilliant and pensive center fielder draw the mental picture of twenty centuries ago as he is absorbed in the study of this great grand stand?
“Rooters’ Row” seems to sink below the diamond now transformed into the historical arena – and memory traces the dens for the wild beasts (no allusions to rooters) – while the massive columns which here and there obstruct so teasingly the rooter’s vision seem to be canopied into corridors through which the lions rushed to the open arena.
Higher up in the grand stand the rows of mighty arches lead to the highest tiers, where thousands of men and women intent upon the combat, are glaring with bated breath at the unequal issue of beast and Christian in the arena below.
Again change the mute’s position. See the speechless determination in his wizard face, as he stands at the bat and turns to see Heiney Peitz elevate his right or left hand, signaling that the umpire has called a strike or a ball. And is not the old Colosseum (sic) day renewed as in fancy we see the victor pausing before inflicting the fatal blow to read the verdict of the populace, while the victim likewise lifts his hand in piteous appeal for life. Alas – the thumbs of the Roman Emperor, of the Roman matrons, of the Roman cowards are turned downward – the gladiator must die. Bob Emslie has just shouted: “Three strikes, you’re out!”
To our guests of today – the New York giants – we bid welcome. We hope you will succeed against all clubs save our own Reds. To Mr. Andrew Freedman and his friends, and to other National League Presidents we extend greetings.
Base ball (sic) is greater than all outdoor sports combined. It is more widely read and talked about than any other sporting topic. It is little wonder then that Messrs. Brush and Lloyd should spend a fortune in erecting a suitable grand stand in which enthusiasts may comfortably view their favorite game. Time will show the wisdom of their action. Other such structures will be built around the circuit ere long and the score-card venders will be able to emulate the example of the young Cincinnatian, who exclaimed on the opening day: “Ain’t it a peach!”
Chas W. Murphy