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Feature on baseball. Topic: SPORTS
Written by Jim Sayre in July, 2000


An Interstate-71 World Series in October 2000? Could happen, hoped one Ohio sports columnist as he contemplated last month the likes of Cleveland slugger Manny Ramirez and Cincinnati’s Junior Griffey.  Anything is possible and if an interstate highway had connected Sidney with Cincinnati a hundred years ago, we could have had an I-75 series here in Shelby County, Ohio.

That’s right. The National League’s Cincinnati team came to Sidney to play ball on August 3, 1900, and up to the fifth inning it was anybody’s ballgame.  The local newspaper hit the streets on July 26 announcing that the "Cincinnati National League base ball team may be secured here for an exhibition game August 3." Arrangements had been completed with Cincinnati’s manager Bancroft, the paper announced the next day, noting that the "Cincinnati and Boston teams will change cars (railcars) here on that day on their way from Boston to Cincinnati."

The hype and "special" team arrangements for the Sidney "Reds" began immediately, with daily updates in the newspapers. "Be sure and obtain grand stand seats before they are all sold. Only 350 tickets will be sold. 10 cents, at Steinle's," read the advertising. Another ad: "Tickets now on sale at Taylor’s hardware store, Henne’s shoe store, Jas. Ovenden’s, Fred Conner’s. General admission 50 cents. Grand stand 10 cents." Sidney’s Charles Taylor traveled to Piqua, Troy, and Tippecanoe to advertise the Cincinnati-Sidney game.

And the special team arrangements? Bringing in the ringers, of course. "Harry Erckler, of Wapakoneta, who has been playing with Youngstown and Mansfield, will play second base for the Sidney team in the game with the Cincinnati Reds next week," the paper advised.

New Ballpark on South Miami
Sidney was ready. The local baseball club was proud of its brand new field and grandstand enclosed by a high board fence on the Reynold’s property on south Miami Avenue, now Berger Park. On June 7, they had won a 5 to 4 hard fought 10 inning game with the Wapakoneta team, which had "the reputation of being one of the strongest teams in Western Ohio."

Latham, the "coacher" (the term current then for coach) for Cincinnati, still in Boston, released this letter he had received from Sidney: "A big crowd will be out to see us. Sam Skinner, the village fiddler, will give a concert before the game, and the management has promised to give away ginger snaps with pictures of the home players on ‘em. Cider will be for sale in Lum Baker’s jolt wagon just out side the park. The flour mill and blacksmith shops will be closed, and we’re goin’ to have a gosh ding good time."

Sidney’s new baseball rivals arrived via the Big Four railroad, now Conrail, at 8 o’clock Friday morning and – bad news for Sidney – the National League team may have been smarting from the defeat handed them the day before by a Painesville team in another exhibition game. Many of the factories closed down to let their employees attend, but R.W. Anderson’s woodworking factory stayed open for a Reds’ tour of the bat-making operation. Cincinnati had been using some of Anderson’s bats, making the stop-over in Sidney a commercial courtesy call as well as a baseball promotional stop and forced railroad layover.

Lunch at the Wagner House
After lunch at the Wagner House, the Reds met the Reds for a 2 o’clock show at the South Miami ballpark just built in May. And we might have beat them too if it hadn’t been for the fifth inning when the future "Big Red Machine" hammered in five runs. Sidney retaliated in the seventh with two runs, but was ultimately overwhelmed 14 to 2 in a game in which Sidney’s hospitality outpaced its ball skill. The Cincinnati team left for home that afternoon on the C.H. &D. railroad, now the CSX.  "The crowd was the largest ever seen on the grounds," reported the newspaper. Modern teams could wish for as much.

Sources: April through August, 1900, editions of the Sidney Daily News and the Sidney Journal; June 2000 edition of Ohio Magazine.


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