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In Cincinnati, Ohio, the opening day of the Major League Baseball season is celebrated like nowhere else.
Since the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional baseball team in 1869, baseball has been an important part of Cincinnati’s culture. And from the start of National League play in 1876, the Reds somehow always opened the season at home. It’s hard to say how this came about, but Reds Team Historian Greg Rhodes surmised, “Apparently this was due to Cincinnati’s location as the southern-most city in the league. Groundskeeping was in its infancy and fields were often a mess in the early spring. The more northern cities were happy to go on the road, and give up the opener for more comfortable conditions.”
Beginning in 1890, the city held a parade on the day of the first game. Then, first in 1939, intermittently through the 1950s and 1960s, and almost every year in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Reds played their first game a day earlier than other cities, making Opening Day in Cincinnati the start of the Major League season in those years. For many years until the mid-1990s, at least one downtown company played the radio broadcast of the game over their office public address system.
As Sparky Anderson, Manager of the Reds in the 1970s, said, “It’s a holiday―a baseball holiday! Ain’t no other place in America got that!”