CINCINNATI -- Twenty-one years ago almost to the day, if you asked two different people when the Reds' home opener was, you might have gotten two different answers.
On April 3, 1994, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds opened the major-league baseball season with a controversial night game at Riverfront Stadium, a game even then-owner Marge Schott didn't want to call the "home opener."
It was controversial because it was Easter, because of the weather (a very "unbaseball" 39 degrees), because it was a night game, and, finally, because that meant there'd be no parade.
And everyone knows Reds fans need their parade to kick off the season right.
Mark Tomasik, former sports editor for the Cincinnati Post, wrote this detailed recap of the Easter night home opener, where he argues that because of all these factors, "the game probably shouldn't have been played."
Nevertheless, because this would be ESPN's inaugural season opener television broadcast, he explains, the network promoted the game so much that not playing didn't seem like an option.
In retrospect, the most entertaining part of the story, but also indicative of the very real frustration stakeholders and fans felt at the time, is probably Schott's reaction to the whole thing. Schott, who initially agreed to the night opener, balked after learning the city would not allow the Opening Day parade to be held on Sunday, right before the first home game, as is tradition:
Schott urged fans and her team to treat the opener like an exhibition. She spoke about the importance of the parade that would be held Monday morning. “We’ll have 20 more floats than we’ve ever had before,” she told the Associated Press. “The Air Force is coming in. Oh, and we’re going to have 300 pigeons, so keep your hat on.”
Twenty-one years later, we have another near collision of Easter Sunday and Opening Day. Thankfully, this year, we aren't facing the same problem.