Baseball is about memories. Every kid remembers his or her first time in the stands for a real big league game. We remember the winning hits, the career milestones, the World Series victories. The Reds boast a history longer and richer with success than most, giving locals plenty to look back on. In this series, prominent Cincinnatians tell us about their own favorite Reds memories. First up is Xavier men’s basketball coach—and Cincinnati native—Chris Mack, who shares his memory of two Reds-Phillies games at Riverfront Stadium during the late ’80s. For more on Mack, check out the magazine’s profile from the March issue.
I was with a bunch of high school friends. My dad, through his law firm, had season tickets—third-base side, blue seats, maybe 15 rows up. This was still pretty early in high school, so we all took the bus from North College Hill. We went down there on back-to-back nights, and I remember telling these guys: “Pay attention, because anytime a left-hander comes up and doesn’t quite get around, you’ll have a shot at the foul ball.”
The Reds were playing the Phillies, and Dave Parker came to the plate. I’ll never forget it. I said, “Here it is, you guys have to be ready.” And three or four pitches into the at-bat Parker fouls one off. We went to so many Reds games as kids, and I knew the angles. As soon as he hit it, I knew it was coming for us—I just didn’t know how fast it was coming. The majority of them get blooped up and you have a little bit of air time to figure out what is happening. But not this one—it was a laser. I stood up and said, “I got it, I got it,” until it hits me right in the chest at about 100 miles an hour. I had a bruise on my chest for 10 days. The ball bounced away, and I got booed by the five or six sections around us. You know how it is.
The next night, we’re in the same seats, same group of friends, and Phillies outfielder Von Hayes doesn’t get around on one. The foul ball bounced in front of us and everyone started scrambling. It ended up rolling around under the seats, and I looked down and saw that baseball come to a stop, seams up. I bent over and picked it up—made up for the previous night a little bit.
I’m still good friends with one of those guys. He was the best man at my wedding, but he didn’t tell this story. I mean, in his list of embarrassing stories about Chris, it was probably about 50th.