Walk Thru History

Published 3:05 am Monday, July 13, 2009

CINCINNATI — When Cincinnati Reds fans try to link the past to the present the easiest way to play connect the time line dots is through the team’s Hall of Fame Museum.

The museum is filled with memorabilia, statues, statistics, special exhibits and interactive facilities. Rick Walls, the museum’s executive director, said baseball history is important in more ways than one.

“Baseball history can connect generations. Baseball is important to society. Players can help change society. Baseball played a role in the civil rights movement,” said Walls who grew up in Athens.

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“We’re building history every day through the games on the field.”

The museum opened in 2004 and remains available to fans year-round. The doors are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week and until 8 p.m. on days when the Reds play night games. It is open two hours after the conclusion of day games.

But Walls notes that this isn’t just a look-and-see building where all fans can do is take pictures or buy souvenirs.

“There are a lot of interactive exhibits. It’s not a typical exhibit museum. It’s more of an experience than a trip,” said Walls.

At one exhibit stop the fan becomes the announcer. A historic play such as Pete Rose’ hit No. 4,192 is show and the fan makes the call over a loudspeaker in the museum.

“People like to get their photo with the world championship trophies or the life-size statues of the best team ever (1975-76)

Theme exhibits are a trademark at the museum. This summer there is a tribute to old Crosley Field and the Negro League connection in Cincinnati.

“We have a committee on the board directors who are a very talented staff that gets together with ideas. We ask fans, too. We try to time it up with anniversaries. This year we’re doing one on the 20th anniversary of the 1990 world championship,” said Walls.

Two years ago the museum did one of its most popular exhibits that was dedicated to Rose. Also, the spot marking Rose’s milestone 4,192 hit is a popular stop for fans in the Rose Garden that is now in left field at Great American Ball Park.

Walls said the number of fans attending a game can effect the attendance of the museum, but that is not always the case. In fact, Walls said a lot of the larger crowds tour the museum during the off-season.

“The bulk of attendance are through educational programs or groups traveling from out-of-town or small families because of the history involved,” said Walls.

“The experience is better than on game day because you’re not rushed by going to the game. A lot of people just wait for the right time. That’s why we change exhibits and look for new ideas.”

Walls said approximately 70,000 fans tour the museum each year and a lot of the reason is due to fans wanting “to be a part of history.” The museum entertains school groups, clubs or organizations and families.

“We’re trying to build a fan base. The museum and the exhibits lets them see what Reds’ baseball is all about,” said Walls.

The excitement of the fans viewing lesser known players and items is what makes Walls’ job even more rewarding.

“I enjoy the surprises of the people who walk in the museum and expecting to see the most popular names and they see a guy who played a year or two who they liked or can relate to. It’s really about the stories, whether it’s in a family or a city,” said Walls.

The museum has a list of all 75 Reds’ Hall of Fame members and the year they were inducted. The honored group includes players, managers and front office executives.

This year’s inductees are shortstop Barry Larkin, outfielder Cesar Geronimo, pitcher Joey Jay and August “Garry” Herrmann, team president from 1902-27.

Fans will vote this year for the 2010 class. Here is a list of the Reds’ Hall of Fame:

Cincinnati Reds

Hall of Fame Members

Sparky Anderson, 2000

Gus Bell, 1964

Johnny Bench, 1986

Jack Billingham, 1984

Ewell Blackwell, 1960

Rube Bressler, 1963

Tom Browning, 2006

Smoky Burgess, 1975

Leo Cardenas, 1981

Clay Carroll, 1980

Gordy Coleman, 1972

Dave Concepcion, 2000

Harry Craft, 1963

Sam Crawford, 1968

Hughie Critz, 1962

Jake Daubert, 1966

Eric Davis, 2005

Paul Derringer, 1958

Bob Ewing, 2001

Pete Donohue, 1964

George Foster, 2003

Lonny Frey, 1961

Cesar Geronimo, 2008

Warren Giles, 1969

Ival Goodman, 1959

Wayne Granger, 1982

Ken Griffey Sr., 2004

Heinie Groh, 1963

Don Gullett, 2002

Noodles Hahn, 1963

Bubbles Hargrave, 1962

Tommy Helms, 1979

August Herrmann, 2008

Bob Howsam, 2004

Dummy Hoy, 2003

Fred Hutchinson, 1965

Joey Jay, 2008

Ted Kluszewski, 1962

Larry Kopf, 1965

Barry Larkin, 2008

Brooks Lawrence, 1976

Ernie Lombardi, 1958

Red Lucas, 1965

Dolf Luque, 1967

Jerry Lynch, 1988

Jim Maloney, 1973

Lee May, 2006

Frank McCormick, 1958

Mike McCormick, 1966

Bill McKechnie, 1967

Roy McMillan, 1971

Bid McPhee, 2002

Joe Morgan, 1987

Billy Myers, 1966

Gary Nolan, 1983

Joe Nuxhall, 1968

Jim O’Toole, 1970

Tony Perez, 1998

Vada Pinson, 1977

Wally Post, 1965

Bob Purkey, 1974

Jose Rijo, 2005

Eppa Rixey, 1959

Frank Robinson, 1978

Edd Roush, 1960

Tom Seaver, 2006

Cy Seymour, 1998

Mario Soto, 2001

Johnny Temple, 1965

Johnny Vander Meer,1958

Bucky Walters, 1958

Billy Werber, 1961

Will White, 2004

Harry Wright, 2005

George Wright, 2005