Touring the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum

For six years I have participated in the Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography Reading in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the first week of June.  Each year, I attend a few Reds games (and blogged about last year’s visit to the park – read it here).  However, one thing I had not done until this year’s visit was tour the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.  I didn’t plan on visiting it this year either, but when I saw that the museum was giving away a special Pete Rose bobblehead with admission during my first weekend in town I felt like I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

So following the Friday night game, I bought the bobblehead and received a voucher that would give me admission to the museum on Saturday or Sunday.  With Saturday’s game starting at 4:05 p.m., I decided that was the best time to explore the museum with a couple of friends from the AP Reading.

Main entrance to the museum.

Before reaching the ticket desk there is an excellent statue and display commemorating the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings’s barnstorming tour of the United States at the first all-professional baseball club.  A map also displays the team’s 57 stops across America, which helped expose professional baseball to a variety of cities.

Display commemorating the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Currently, the rotating exhibit is “Red to Bronze.”  It details how the team and local artist Tom Tsuchiya have created the eight bronze statues outside the stadium and the ninth (one of Pete Rose dedicated after my visit).

Sign welcoming fans to the rotating exhibit, “Red to Bronze.”

The exhibit features cases dedicated to each of the nine men who now have a bronze statue outside Great American Ball Park.

Case with items from Joe Nuxhall’s career and parts of the plaster cast used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Ted Kluszewski’s career and miniatures used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Pete Rose’s career and miniature used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Joe Morgan’s career and parts of the plaster cast used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Johnny Bench’s career and parts of the plaster cast used for the sculpture.

Just past the current rotating exhibit is a theater that features a film detailing the history of the Cincinnati Reds.  The most unique part is the entrance, which is crafted to replicate the entrance of the Palace of the Fans (home of the Reds from 1902-11).

The Palace of the Fans replica entrance.

On the way to the rest of the museum, fans walk up a flight of stairs.  However, these stairs overlook the Rose Garden, so instead of just ascending stairs fans get to take in the flowers and 4,256 baseballs to commemorate Pete Rose’s number of career hits.  The Rose Garden also contains a special feature to honor Rose for becoming MLB’s all-time hits leader.

The white rose bush marks where Pete Rose’s 4,192nd career hit landed at the former Riverfront Stadium.

As previously mentioned, towering over the Rose Garden is a wall of baseballs.

Landmark events are marked en route to Rose’s final hit.

At the top of the steps is a display dedicated to Pete Rose’s career accomplishments.

A chart tracking Pete Rose’s pursuit of the MLB all-time hits record.
A collection of baseballs from Pete Rose’s career.
A piece of AstroTurf from Riverfront Stadium with a mark designating where Pete Rose’s 4,192nd career hit landed.

There are so many more pictures I could have shared from the display, but then this post may turn into a complete Pete Rose love fest.  One of my friends touring the museum with me noted that because Rose is ineligible to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame that the Reds turned this exhibit into Pete Rose’s personal hall of fame.  Whether you love, like, or hate Pete Rose the exhibit is really amazing and worth seeing if you truly appreciate his role within baseball history.

From the expected to perhaps the absurd, no museum would be complete without an off-beat piece in its collection.  Baseball fans who lived through the 1980s will remember the Reds’s eccentric/controversial owner Marge Schott affinity for her Saint Bernard dog, Schottzie (see a photo from SI).  When the Reds won the 1990 World Series, she had a specialty made championship dog collar made for Schottzie, which is on display.

Schottzie’s 1990 World Series championship dog collar among other items.

For people with kids, the rest of the museum will be worth the price of admission.

Play Ball! features numerous interactive games for kids of all ages.

Play Ball! has a clubhouse for kids, a strike zone display that allows fans to see how fast they can throw a ball, and perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser is an interactive menu that allows people to build their own baseball card.  Additionally, there is a giant display of Reds bobbleheads.  Naturally, I was quite excited checking out the various iterations that team has given away over the years.

A plethora of Reds bobbleheads fill the display cases.

Adult fans can enjoy the various games in the Play Ball! exhibit or relive some of the Reds’ greatest moments and give their own call at The Reds are on the Radio exhibit.  Or bask in the Ultimate Reds Room presented by Moerlein Lager House.

Inside the Ultimate Reds Room presented by Moerlein Lager House.

Baseball fans who lived through the 1970s and best remember the Reds as “The Big Red Machine” can relish those memories in the Glory Days exhibit.  Glory Days features a statue depicting some of the greatest Reds ever and has three of the team’s World Series trophies on display.

“The Great Eight” sculpture, which is based off the Reds’ win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series.
The Reds’ World Series trophies from 1975, 1976, and 1990.

The last exhibit in the museum is the Hall of Fame, which features plaques celebrating the achievements of the halls.  I didn’t feel it necessary to capture pictures of each set of plaques, but believe two photos are worth sharing because of their importance to the team’s history.

The first plaques you see entering the Hall of Fame feature brothers George and Harry Wright, who were instrumental in establishing professional baseball.
One of the last plaques in the Hall of Fame features Ken Griffey Jr., who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.

A tour of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum concludes with fans filtering out into the team store, but with a unique twist.  Fans get to overlook a giant replica of the Reds’ 1990 World Series trophy.

An overview of the Reds’ 1990 World Series trophy replica in the team store.

Although I did not grow up a Cincinnati Reds fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the museum and hall of fame.  The team does an outstanding job of preserving and presenting its rich history, which is deeply entwined with professional baseball’s history in the United States.  I admittedly bought the ticket and toured the museum because I really wanted the Pete Rose bobblehead, but in hindsight I would have been just as pleased touring the museum even if I did not receive the bobblehead.  Baseball fans visiting Cincinnati, whether they get to attend a Reds’ game, should absolutely check out the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

A pint at Goat Island Brewing in Cullman, Ala.

When people survey the map of craft breweries in Alabama, one stands out as being convenient but maybe not as convenient as visitors may expect.  Goat Island Brewing in Cullman appears to be conveniently located off Interstate 65 north of Birmingham, which is true.  However, Cullman (respectfully) is not a city many people throughout the South much less in Alabama set out to visit because it offers other cultural or historical sights.

So if you have the goal of visiting each craft brewery in Alabama (like I do), you have to specifically set a goal of stopping in Cullman just to have a drink at Goat Island.  So recently my now-wife and I decided to visit the brewery because of a traffic backup on I-65 as we were heading to Nashville.  It was certainly an impromptu visit, but one that we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Main entrance to the brewery.

The brewery has a large seating space, as the brewery is in a large former industrial building.  There are numerous tables with four to six chairs at them to the left and a long bar to the right when you enter the building.

The draft wall.

Along the draft wall there is a display of Goat Island Brewing paraphernalia customers can purchase ranging from stickers to t-shirts and more.

A display of Goat Island Brewing gear available at the brewery.

The space at the brewery is nicely setup, but we stopped (and others stop) because of the beer.  The brewery had seven beers on tap (with an eighth – a hefeweizen – set to be tapped the following week).  The brewery has a wide distribution throughout central Alabama, so I had drank four of the beers before visiting the brewery itself.  So I ordered the Palomino Pale Ale and Big Bridge IPA.

Both sides of the five-ounce glasses.

The pale ale and IPA were both true to style.  Neither were overly hoppy, so if you avoid craft beers because you dislike the bitter taste both of these brews are quite acceptable for new craft beer drinkers.

I also decided to try the Son of a Bridge Jumper Double IPA, which had a bit more bite to it.  However, at only 7.8% ABV it is not as potent as some other double IPAs available on the market.

Additionally, from past experience I can endorse the Thrill Hill Vanilla Porter and the Richter’s Pilsner as two of my favorite beers by Goat Island.  Thrill Hill blends vanilla notes in nicely while not overpowering the beer.  Richter’s Pilsner is an excellent German-style pilsner, which means it is more malty than hoppy.  According to one of the brewery’s owners the recipe came from an old photo of Cullman (read the story here).

Additionally, the brewery celebrates its first history by framing a used bag of grain from its first brew.

Used bag of grain celebrating the brewery’s first brew, which took place in March 2016.

Incorporating Cullman’s German heritage into the brewery there are a pair of quotes regarding beer from famous Germans.

Wise words about the consumption of beer.

One critically important thing to consider about visiting the brewery is that you cannot stop by for a beer on Sunday because the county does not permit alcohol sales on that day of the week.  Additionally, there is no food available for sale at the brewery.  However, local vendors often serve food for purchase outside of the brewery or you can order food to be delivered.  Red Mountain Crawfish was serving up crawfish and shrimp along with the fixings when we stopped by the brewery.

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed my impromptu stop at Goat Island Brewing.  It took a bit to arrive at the brewery off Interstate 65, but the beer was taproom setup was welcoming to all people.  The food available from a local vendor was tasty.  Most importantly the beer itself was excellent and offers a variety of options for the craft beer drinker’s palate.