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Historic site tribute to Crosley Field

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Crosley Field Historic Site opened Wednesday on property where the Cincinnati Reds played for decades, with a colorful mural and replicas meant to jog memories and imaginations.

A replica light tower on the property, just west of Interstate 75, also reminds visitors that Major League Baseball’s first night game was played there in 1935. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.

Team historian Greg Rhodes has taken people on informal tours of the property for years. But the addition of the large mural depicting 1950s Crosley, replica foul poles, seats and base markers, and historical photos provide more to see.

“You really have to use your imagination,” Rhodes conceded as he led dozens of fans on a tour Wednesday. “But this will help bring it to life.”

The usual free tour will be self-guided, with brochures available at the City Gospel Mission, located on part of the property that was once Crosley Field before it was demolished and paved over for business uses.

The Reds played in Crosley FIeld from 1912-1970, an era that includes four Reds’ World Series appearances and star players such as Frank Robinson, Pete Rose and Johnny Bench. Rhodes said many of baseball’s other greatest players, from Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron, also played at Crosley. He noted that the mural’s scoreboard shows the Reds beating the rival Dodgers 16-4, an actual game score in the ‘50s.

The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum is funding most of the costs and is selling personalized bricks for the site.

Rhodes said that for older fans, the site evokes talk about “the experience of coming here” — the smells of ballpark icon “Peanut Jim” Shelton’s hot roasted peanuts or the sounds of broadcaster Waite Hoyt, calling the action over transistor radios people took to games.

For George Brinkman, 73, Wednesday’s visit was poignant. He thought of how his father, a bartender, bought “obstructed view” tickets because that was what he could afford.

“I never liked sitting behind a pole,” Brinkman said. “Now I just remember it was all part of the cool times of being with my Dad.”