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Crosley Field mural to celebrate Reds' first ballpark

Plans unveiled on 103rd anniversary of first game played on historic field

CINCINNATI -- Reds baseball is as much about its past as it is about its present, and there is arguably no other city that embraces its baseball tradition as passionately as Cincinnati.

Baseball's oldest franchise has played in a total of three stadiums in its history: Crosley Field, Riverfront Stadium (later renamed Cinergy Field), and, currently, Great American Ball Park. There is a familiarity to the latter two, mainly because fans today have personally experienced attending games at those venues.

Crosley Field, however, is different. The Reds stopped playing there halfway through the 1970 season, which means that anyone under the age of around 50 wouldn't remember it.

Its place in Reds history, however, hasn't been forgotten, and in recent times, special efforts have been made to preserve its importance to Cincinnati baseball.

On Saturday -- the 103rd anniversary of the first game ever played at Crosley Field -- Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (KBC), in partnership with City Gospel Mission and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, unveiled plans for a 23-foot-by-70-foot mural depicting Crosley Field in the 1950s.

The mural is the creation and artistic design of KCB artists Katie Davis and Claire Bryson.

"Looking at photographs and doing research, we were inspired by the architecturally significant details of the field itself, including the historic lights and scoreboard and the urban context with views of the surrounding buildings and hills," Bryson said.

The mural will be painted on the side of the new City Gospel Mission building at 1805 Dalton Ave. as part of the Crosley Field Historic Site. Painting will begin May 1, and the mural is scheduled to be completed by July 1, in time for the All-Star Game on July 14.

"From a historical perspective, this is extremely important, right at the top of our list," said Rick Walls, executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. "It's something that we know that fans that walk through this museum want to have happen. That is why we are so involved. From 1912 to 1970, that was the home of the Reds. That was the home of so many memories that were made."

The mural scene shows the last spectators remaining in the ballpark at the end of a game. The scoreboard depicted was not original to Crosley Field but was installed in 1957 and stayed up until demolition. It shows the score on an actual game in 1959, when the Reds beat the Dodgers, 16-4. It was the first Reds game ever televised in color.

The advertisements depicted, many of which promote Cincinnati companies, are replicas of actual ads that could be viewed from the Crosley stands.

"A lot of these companies still exist to this day," Bryson said. Among the companies visible in the mural: Kroger, WKRC, Coca-Cola, Pontiac, Caproni's Restaurant, Young & Bertke Co. Sheet Metal Work, Ford and Hudepohl.

An ad for Siebler Tailoring was among the more popular billboards.

"If you hit the sign, you won a free suit," Bryson said. "One of the Reds' players hit the sign so many times, he was called the Best Dressed Red."

The Crosley Field Historic Site, also on target for completion before the All-Star Game, will include replica foul poles, a light standard replicating the original lights used at Crosley Field, base markers, historic photos provided by the Reds Hall of Fame, a plaza near the main entrance with replica Crosley seats, a self-guided tour brochure with guided tours available and memorabilia for purchase.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.
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