On September 22, 2002, a couple of also-rans suited up in Cincinnati to play out the string on a three-game series that meant nothing to the season dying right there before them.

That Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the hometown Reds by a score of 4-3 in a lackluster game at Cinergy Field — neither team scored more than one run in an inning, and no one even hit a home run to liven things up.

Well, no one until Aaron Boone came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning, that is.

Find Aaron Boone cards on eBay (affiliate link)

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Digging in there with two outs (Ken Griffey, Jr., and Adam Dunn), Boone took Dan Plesac’s 2-1 offering deep to left field, and the Reds were back in the game at 4-3.

But then Jose Mesa took the mound for the Phils and struck out Wily Mo Pena to end the inning.

Philadelphia got a couple of runners on in the top of the ninth, but Chris Reitsma managed to get out of the inning unscathed, run-wise.

And then … Mesa set down three of four Reds in the bottom of the frame, allowing just a one-out walk to Kelly Stinnett. Todd Walker ended the affair by grounding out to second.

Two days later, the Phillies began a two-game tilt against the Braves at Veterans Stadium before heading to Miami to end a disappointing campaign.

The Reds, meanwhile, hit the road right away, but heading north — first to play the Chicago Cubs, and then the Montreal Expos.

Both teams might have forgotten all about that final home game for the Reds any other year, but this one was different.

For starters, Reds starter Jose Rijo pitched his last-ever home game for the team that he had helped build into World Series champions back in 1990.

And Walker played his last home game for the Reds, too, who traded him to the Boston Red Sox that winter.

And every player who stepped foot on that first day of fall played his last game ever at Cinergy Field — played the last game ever at Cinergy Field.

Because, after more than 32 years as the home of the Reds, and as the birthplace of the vaunted Big Red Machine who steamrolled through the 1970s, and just a couple years after the Cincinnati Bengals vacated the premises, Riverfront Stadium was done.

The next spring, the Reds would move into the retro-cozy Great American Ball Park and everything would be grand, but before then, there was the business of wiping Riverfront — which became Cinergy in 1996 — from the Cincy map.

The implosion came on December 29, 2002, and if you watched the plumes of dust closely and squinted just right, you might just have caught the ghosts of legendary moments forming there over the Ohio River — Pete Rose and Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench and Ray Fosse and celebrations and Schottzies — all of it.

Just like Rose himself had pointed into the Cincinnati night, tipping his hat to his late father, on September 11, 1985, the night he broke Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record.

The next season, Boone stayed with the Reds through July before Cincy traded him to the Yankees, where he became one in a long line of postseason heroes.

By then, GABP was sparkling against the riverfront skyline, salving the pain of a love lost for old-time fans (and players) who planted little hunks of their baseball souls in the old cookie-cutter that was no more.

And by then, Boone had graced his last Reds baseball cards, including a 2003 Fleer Ultra gem that shows Cincinnati’s erstwhile third baseman connecting on a something, watching the ball fly.

And he’s wearing the Reds home pinstripes with long black sleeves underneath. Could it be a shot from Boone’s fateful shot on that September day, the last day of Riverfront, when the temperature dropped into the 60s?

Could it be a shot of the last bit of offense ever mustered in the legendary spaceship?

If you’re a dreamer, or if you’ve ever left anything behind, there really can be no other explanation.


Hobby Wow!

The Bengals and Reds steeped Riverfront Stadium in sports history, thanks to some of the greatest names who’ve ever played the games. This eBay lot celebrates that glory …

That’s a Riverfront seat back autographed by all the players who won league MVP awards in MPB or the NFL.

Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).

1981 topps baseball cards complete set NM/MT And 1986 Topps Complete Set

$4.25 (11 Bids)
End Date: Thursday 06/24/2021 17:52:45 EDT
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1981 topps baseball cards complete set NM/MT

$34.00 (12 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday 06/23/2021 19:25:21 EDT
Bid now | Add to watch list