The Palace of the Fans was a century ahead of its time

The Palace of the Fans was a century ahead of its time

You might have awakened in Cincinnati that day to a chill in the air, however knowing the heat would come– high of 65 that day, spring baseball weather at its best. Take the tram to the game, and you would have discovered yourself surrounded by other Cincinnati fans, possibly even some of the Reds players– the extremely seeds of Palace of the Fans obsolescence could be observed on that initially, glorious day, consisting of the truth that designer John G. Thurtle, for all his singular information work, did not consist of clubhouses or dugouts at the new park, forcing players to dress in the house or at their hotels and concern the video game in full uniform.

This day, however, it was by design, with the Reds and their Opening Day challengers, the Chicago Cubs, meeting up to take a trip on a designated set of trolley automobiles, one for each group, leading what ended up being a parade to the shining brand-new park. It’s more than enough to pay your method into the ballpark, with prices set at 50 and 65 cents, depending on where you want to sit, with adequate leftover for concessions– and you’re going to desire to eat and consume what they’re serving at Palace of the Fans.

An hour before that 3 p.m. first pitch, the players entered, the crowd rose to cheer, the band kept playing as outfielders heated their arms, tossing to one another, and Reds Opening Day starter Len Swormstedt, a Cincinnati young boy made excellent, preparing yourself in nasty territory pitching to Bill Bergen. The set was part of a new, young infusion of talent on the Reds, most notably outfielder Sam Crawford, who hit.330 in 1901, upped that to.333 in 1902, en route to the Hall of Fame in 1957. The manager was Bid McPhee, himself a future Hall of Famer, however as a gamer, inducted by the Veterans Committee in 2000. After a last-place finish the year before, hope ruled throughout the ballpark that professional baseball’s earliest team could win its very first pennant considering that 1882, 20 years previously.
Depending upon where your tickets seated you, it was possible to get a look at the male responsible for everything, Reds owner John T. Brush, to search for and take in the Corinthian columns and exceptional architecture throughout the park that Brush himself had actually firmly insisted on, a vision he d had years previously at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893.
The band stopped playing and Chicago’s leadoff player, Jimmy Slagle entered the package. The very first pitch from Swormstedt can be found in, and the too-short life of Palace of the Fans genuinely began.

Under a heading reading “Enthusiasm”, this is the lede in the Cincinnati Enquirer on April 18, 1902: “Unless the early returns are followed by an unprecedented slump it may safely be said that the National League has not suffered any deadly injuries throughout the winters strife,” it checked out, referring to the battles in between leagues that produced, ultimately, both the American Leagues birth and eventually, the World Series. “Not for years has actually there been an opening to compare to the other days. Cincinnati has actually seen nothing like it for years.”

Both the presence of Palace of the Fans, as well as its quick death, have a lot to do with one male: John T. Brush. The gem of the stadium is one that, had Palace of the Fans been nothing more, would be remarkable itself. We understand that since the ballpark built to replace Palace of the Fans, Crosley Field, was located at the precise same website, Findlay and McLean. Seventy-five years later on, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist John Eckberg wrote an ode to the Palace of the Fans, prompting the Reds to develop another park simply like it, as Crosley Fields follower, Riverfront Stadium, prepared to provide a way to the teams current home, Great American Ballpark. The lobby is built to duplicate the Cincinnati facade, and the surroundings, of what it felt like to get in Palace of the Fans back on April 17, 1902.

All images in this piece were sourced from In addition to the articles mentioned here, archives of the Cincinnati Enquirer from April 18, 1902, April 1, 1996, and September 16, 2004, along with the Buffalo Courier from August 11, 1902, were made use of in investigating this story.

The paper likewise took special notice of the nature of the crowd, mixing and combined by their love of baseball. Under a various heading reading “Splendid Crowd, Made Up Of Representative Citizens of Cincinnati and Vicinity”, another sportswriter cataloged it by doing this: “The office young boy rubbed elbows with the millionaire, who in turn discussed the fine points of the video game with his next seat neighbor, a farmer who had actually reckoned with his unsuspecting wife that this would be an excellent day for him to take in a load of that timothy hay …” The farmer in concern, having actually gotten his chores done early, then “wandered out to the premises to see what kind of a ball group McPhee had this year.”
The farmer and the millionaire and the workplace kid provided they were all rooting for the home team, went house dissatisfied in the result, a 6-1 loss. The 1902 Reds eventually completed at 70-70, going through three supervisors at the same time, and finishing 4th in the National League, 33.5 video games behind Honus Wagner and Jack Chesbros powerful Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, the greatest loss of the season, for Palace of the Fans functions, can be found in August when Brush offered his Cincinnati Reds interest to a syndicate led by Ohio political manager George B. Cox and August Herrmann, who was the de facto commissioner of baseball for much of the subsequent two decades.
Over the next couple of years, other franchises determined that the irreversible, concrete structure in Cincinnati made a lot of sense. By the end of the decade, Forbes Field opened in Pittsburgh for the Pirates, Comiskey Park in Chicago for the White Sox. Soon thereafter, Wrigley and Fenway followed, and with different ownership groups in place, we may still have Palace of the Fans, too.
After all, the reasons for the Palace of the Fans to be destroyed weren’t insoluble. The stadium experienced some cracks in the concrete, the example an owner more interested in constructing anew might use it as a reason to do so. So, too, was the fire that ruined a significant part of the stands.
The seating location was too small, however, this was precisely the case at Wrigley, too– 14,000 at the parks open in 1914, but 38,396 by 1927. Building additional seating around the infield and outfield was completely necessary, and possible at the really same site. We understand that since the ballpark constructed to replace Palace of the Fans, Crosley Field, was positioned at the specific same site, Findlay and McLean. It held 20,696 on Opening Day, 1912, and broadened to nearly 30,000 by 1970.
The greatest element leading to the demise of the Palace of the Fans? The owner of the Reds was no longer the man who had actually roamed, eyes broad, through the Chicago Worlds Fair and thought of a ballpark to rival it.

But the ballpark originated a number of the most substantial advances, economically and visually, that is found in the modern ballparks also. Nineteen so-called “Fashion boxes”, or as we’ve come to know them, luxury boxes, accommodated Cincinnati’s majority of well-to-do fans. The fans even had the option of bringing their carriages– horses or, in a growing number of cases as the years went on, horseless– to halt ideal outside the boxes, which held three rows, 5 chairs apiece, and offered a view of the proceedings simply above field level.
Luxury aside, Brushes’ brand-new park did not cater simply to the rich. The individuals of “Rooters Row”– reserved for the rowdiest of Reds fans– were separated only by a bit of chicken wire from the field itself, where both teams sat on benches, the finest view in the home for the game. Fans might buy beers, priced at 12 for $1, so it is reasonable to presume the house field advantage grew louder as the afternoon went on. Scotch was likewise offered at the bar location, together with pickles and hard-boiled eggs, while those who were hungrier might purchase ham sandwiches. They might consume hot pets, too, they just could not request one– the expression hotdog actually came later on, in 1905, then the capability to eat and buy one at Palace of the Fans.
For the 3,000 others seated in the six rows of collapsible chairs, or the wooden benches behind it, in the grandstand, or the 4,000 standing space just fans in the outfield, some standing directly behind the outfield fence, other suppliers walked amongst them all game long, selling candy, pretzels, lemonade, and beer.
Ten thousand individuals came through the turnstiles that Thursday afternoon in 1902, making for a delighted Brush– who loved baseball however enjoyed generating income a minimum of as much. This was a Reds team that had actually finished 52-86 the season before, and attendance more than doubled from their 1901 season-opening crowd of 4,900.

Palace of the Fans opened in 1902– more than a century back– a first-of-its-kind baseball arena that consisted of standard contemporary facilities like concession stands and luxury boxes for the very first time. But while contemporaries have like Wrigley and Fenway have ended up being protected monoliths, the Palace was lost to time and situation.
How lucky you d have been if you found yourself in Cincinnati on April 17, 1902.
For a baseball fan– for anybody who takes pleasure in charm and pleasure, spectacle and home entertainment– the totality of the city came together to commemorate the opening of the 1902 baseball season, yes, but much more substantial, the opening of the best baseball park ever developed, a mixture of elements we have not seen since and forerunners of the most considerable functions at a baseball video game to this day– Palace of the Fans.

That male now owned the New York Giants– in normal Brush style, he offered the Reds for $150,000, then bought the Giants for $100,000, therefore both realizing his dream and turning a neat revenue at the same time– and he dealt with a similar problem with his even-older ballpark, the Polo Grounds, which suffered a disastrous fire in April of 1911. So we do not have to question what Brush would have been inclined to do in such a circumstance– even though the Polo Grounds hadn’t been his creation, Brush quickly moved to reconstruct the Polo Grounds “on lines conforming with the basic character” of the ballpark as it had actually stood. The majority of the wood grandstand was preserved.
It takes substantial historical mental gymnastics to imagine Palace of the Fans as still standing today, without question. It would suggest some mix of Brush staying owner in Cincinnati through the fire, growing public gratitude of the arena that allowed it to avoid the late 1960s-early 1970s fate of Crosley Field and its brethren, like Forbes Field and Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, growing into the historical landmark status. Those that stayed, like the temples of baseball that were tragically ruined, are all here as a result of such accidents. It’s tough not to believe about what history may have been made at the premises, even if it had been offered a lifespan the length of the Polo Grounds. What right field catch would be the Cincinnati equivalent, with a wall 450 feet away in right, of Willie Mays 1954 World Series grab in straightaway center off the bat of Vic Wertz? What would Palace of the Fans have done to the power varieties of Ernie Lombardi? Would Ted Kluszewski have given up pulling the ball completely?
When it comes to that public appreciation: it feels not just plausible however most likely, given just how much of it exists for a ballpark that lasted a decade and hasn’t been seen for over a century. A thread through the history of all those who have experienced Palace of the Fans either virtually, or personally, is an understanding that what existed, for just years, was the single biggest monument to the video game.
The sportswriter Al Spink composed in the Reno Gazette-Journal (and doubtlessly other documents, syndicated across the nation) on Dec. 30, 1918, nearly as an aside about Brush: “It was he who revolutionized all ideas of baseball stands in the United States by structure, years ago, the stand-in Cincinnati, which was called The Palace of the Fans. In its day, it was the finest baseball structure, although not the largest, on the circuits of the big leagues.”
Seventy-five years later, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist John Eckberg wrote an ode to the Palace of the Fans, prompting the Reds to develop another park just like it, as Crosley Fields follower, Riverfront Stadium, prepared to provide a way to the teams present home, Great American Ballpark. The Reds didn’t– a minimum of not completely ballpark type– but it deserves keeping in mind that the entryway to the group’s Hall of Fame was not modeled after Crosley Field, the groups longest-standing home, nor Riverfront, which hosted the finest Cincinnati Reds groups of perpetuity, The Big Red Machine of Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose. The lobby is developed to reproduce the Cincinnati exterior, and the surroundings, of what it seemed like to get in the Palace of the Fans back on April 17, 1902.
” Bring back the Corinthian pillars,” Eckberg composed on Dec. 5, 1993, 100 years after Brush first saw his vision at the Worlds Fair. “Bring back the flair. Revive the Palace.”
It is a call through the ages, and it continues to this day.

It is easy to think about history as immutable, the method details and large-scale changes unfolded as a pure inevitability. They are not. And ballparks, for great and ill, show it.
Experience the long life of Wrigley Field, developed in 1914, treasured and preserved through the multigenerational ownership of the Wrigley family, long enough to reach the period when ballparks were, a minimum of in some quarters, considered too sacred to damage. Fenway Park was constructed even previously, opened in 1912, and survived an extended municipal discussion on its existence about 20 years back.
Other parks have actually not been so fortunate. And it has little to do with viability. Shea Stadium boiled down after the 2008 season, and because the mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, insisted upon it, the Yankees took apart their cathedral, Yankee Stadium, and developed an average replacement (with more accouterments for the wealthy, naturally) in its stead. Shea Stadium, by the way, was constructed and styled in a comparable way to Dodger Stadium, still with us today. Dodger Stadium, obviously, happened thanks to the decision by then-team owner Walter O’Malley to desert Ebbets Field and come west. He brought Horace Stoneham and the Giants with him, thus ending, after a couple of years of occupation by the Mets, the life expectancy of the Polo Grounds.

Likewise, both the existence of Palace of the Fans, in addition to its quick demise, has a lot to do with one male: John T. Brush. He’s the guy who restored the Polo Grounds. And had history unfolded differently, he could have been the one to conserve Palace of the Fans.

The brush was a department store tycoon– ask your terrific, fantastic grandparents about the When Store in Indianapolis– who owned a team in Indy, then when that team was stated surplus to needs by its league, the American Association, he bought the Cincinnati Reds.

Several years into his period, Brush took a trip to Chicago to take in the 1893 Worlds Fair. It’s difficult to overemphasize how main to existing and future idea each Worlds Fair was– whether Chicago in 1893, St. Louis in 1914, or New York in 1964– however it led to the kind of believing that produced replica cityscape landmarks. At a time when streetlights were at a premium, it is easy to understand how Brush strolled unsteadily– a medical condition forced him to make use of two walking canes over a final couple of decades of his life– through the so-called “White City”, integrated into a neoclassical architecture design and illuminated at night, and identified that this would be the method the baseball fans of his group should take pleasure in the sport. He wasnt the only one so inspired– a guy called George Tilyou saw the really first Ferris Wheel amid the exhibitions, returned house to New York, and created and constructed Steeplechase Park in Brooklyn Coney Island.

Brush owned the Reds however had designs on another team– the New York Giants, close to the Broadway life he and his partner, Elsie Boyd Lombard, lived in socially. Brush had actually met the future 2nd Mrs. Brush after seeing her in an 1894 show, A Temperance Town. While he waited for an opening to buy the Giants, his Reds, having a hard time on the field, required a new home after a substantial part of the grandstand at their old wood structure, League Park, burned to the ground in 1900. That provided Brush the opening he needed to take his Reds above the efforts of other owners, as he saw it, “to keep baseball in the saloon class”, and make them a group for everybody in Cincinnati, no matter social station.

The jewel of the arena is one that, had Palace of the Fans been nothing more, would be unforgettable itself. In the southwest corner of the arrive at the corner of McLean Avenue and Findlay Street, Brush built a grandstand with 22 Corinthian columns, made of concrete, not wood– a lasting material that ended up being more basic as baseball teams throughout the nation wanted to create permanent homes. The grandstand had the city’s name– Cincinnati– happily sculpted into the exterior behind the home base, so that wire service images would be particular to keep in mind where the video games were happening. In this method, it is a combination of the most popular baseball park eccentricities, a healthy dose of pragmatism (which resulted in Fenway Parks Green Monster, produced to even out the batter/pitcher stability of an arena developed to live within a recognized city block) and executive whimsy (as was the base when young Cubs executive Bill Veeck decided to plant some vines along the Wrigley Field outfield walls).