CINCINNATI -- The Reds bobbled the ball when they didn't leverage their on-field talent in the 2010-2013 era to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, but they didn't bobble their bobblehead exhibit, which opens Friday at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
For all of the sophistication of past exhibits at the Reds Hall – and I've seen them all – I'd have to rate the bobblehead exhibit far and away the most fun.
I dropped into the Reds Hall Tuesday to pick up a copy of the new biography about former Reds shortstop Leo Cardenas and stumbled onto the nearly completed bobblehead exhibit.
I was blown away.
Five hundred bobbleheads – ranging from two of the great Bambino and two of Pope Francis; one Elvis (Aloha Hawaii), and Reds from Frank Robinson in the late 1950s/early 1960s, to Billy Hamilton – are displayed in 12 separate cases wired to bobble for 20 seconds at two-minute intervals. The full-blown Americana (mostly) collection – with touches of a Fellini thrown in (the clownish bobbling heads) – will undoubtedly set viewers' heads to bobbling, too.
The exhibit is presented by Dinsmore Shohl law firm and runs Friday through January 2017. It will be improved continuously, as more bobbleheads are found. The staff's wish: Some boxers, particularly a Muhammad Ali.
Larkin First Reds’ Head To Bobble
The first Reds' bobblehead giveaway was in 2001 (Barry Larkin), two years after the San Francisco Giants began the pastime's most popular mass habit (1999 – who else but Willie Mays, and yes, the Reds' exhibit has it).
There are all kinds of ways to have fun at the exhibit, and three of mine were to try to find:
- The least look-a-like bobblehead -- (Pete Rose, 2015, a cross between Mike Lum and Prince Valiant).
- Favorite -- (Fu Manchu'd catcher Corky Miller in Louisville uniform blocking the plate);
- Most creative -- (most of these are in the owner-customized division: Glenn Braggs breaking his bat over his shoulder in the 1990 World Series; Braggs leaping above the right-field wall at Riverfront Stadium to make a Game Six-saving catch in the 1990 National League Championship Series, and Jay Bruce in the NL Central Division-clinching game at Great American Ball Park in 2010).
‘Mayors,’ Combos And Heroes
The combination of most beloved and best look-alike almost has to be Jim O'Toole, complete with that perfectly synched windup and distinctive Irish mug.
The two “Mayors of Riverfront” are here (Tony Perez, Sean Casey), although they're not identified as such. Same for the Mayor of Crosley Field, Joe Nuxhall, though I'd like to see an Ernie Lombardi, because he was a Mayor of Crosley back in the 1930s and early 1940s.
There are three Marty & Joe's, one Marty and Thom and a Phillies Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. I'd like to see a Waite Hoyt added.
These are there, too: Johnny Bench home run/Game 4 of the 1976 World Series; Eric Davis home run/1990 WS; Joe Oliver/Game Two double/'90 WS; Barry Larkin leap to end the '90 WS; Ken Griffey Jr./home run No. 500 and Bench/seven baseballs in one hand.
Two that fans ask about all the time, but nobody's created them yet, are: Vada Pinson (would need the brightest shoes in the history of bobbleheads – Vada shined his own shoes, not trusting them to the clubhouse guys – and a perfectly tailored uniform) and Ted Kluszewski (cutoff sleeves, bulging biceps).
There is a Lou Piniella in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform, but nothing as a Red. It surprised me that Sweet Lou has politely declined to authorize a bobblehead of his base-throw back in '90. I know he was a little touchy about having “lost it” there – or at least his wife was none too pleased; that's a fact – but get over it, Lou; give it the OK. You were wire-to-wire World Champions; you apologize for nothing.
Two Donald Trumps, one Hillary. A William Howard Taft, Cincinnati's own; three Barack Obamas; an FDR, a JFK, a Ronald Reagan; a Bill Clinton and a George W. Bush.
In the mix, though you might have to look carefully, because there's a “Where's Waldo” quality to them, are Al Capone, Woody Hayes, Alfred Hitchcock and the Florence Water Tower.
“Uncle Al” cracked me up.
Guaranteed you'll be touched by Lauren Hill.
Bobbles Still Needed
Some I'd like to see someday:
- Fred Hutchinson tossing baseballs through the plate-glass window in the old Crosley Field clubhouse after a particularly galling loss;
- Paul Sommerkamp announcing the lineup from beside the visitors' dugout at Crosley Field;
- Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman Bid McPhee, barehanded and in one of those striped 1882 uniforms;
- Edd Roush with his big bat;
- Heinie Groh with his bottle bat;
- Morrie Rath getting drilled by Chicago Black Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte to start the 1919 World Series (a signal to the gamblers the fix was in).
And, oh my yes, a Peanut Jim.
Got to find a Peanut Jim, complete with peanut roaster.
After you visit the exhibit, come up with some others you'd like to see and drop me an email at email@example.com.
John Erardi wrote the foreword for "Stealing First: The Teddy Kremer Story," due out next month. He has covered the Reds since 1985, authoring or co-authoring six books on the team, including Crosley Field and Big Red Dynasty. He is working on a seventh, about Reds scouting in Cuba in the 1950s and the franchise's lengthy Triple-A affiliation with the Sugar Kings of Havana.