SP78 Replay Celebrates 40 Years Today!

On this date in 1980, the Statis Pro 1978 Replay season opened with a game between the Reds and Astros at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, the first of four games to be played that landmark afternoon. Now, exactly forty years later, the Reds will help SP78 Replay celebrate again, with an anniversary game against the Cardinals on the actual site where Riverfront once stood, at the AC Marriott Cincinnati at The Banks hotel. The game will spotlight a pitching match-up of Cincinnati ace Tom Seaver and St Louis right-hander John Denny, and will feature the original lineups from that 1978 game.

My friend Steve P and I arrived in Cincinnati on Thursday afternoon, the purpose of the visit twofold: to play the 40th anniversary game in the city where my replay season kicked off, and to visit the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, conveniently located across the street from our hotel, adjacent to Great American Ball Park. The second of our goals was achieved yesterday, when he and I spent over three hours enjoying a baseball museum that, in our opinion, far surpassed that of the one located in Cooperstown. Not only was the memorabilia smartly presented and more creatively displayed, but the overall experience was a heck of a lot more fun.

If such a thing is possible, we’re considering playing the anniversary game on the hotel’s open-air rooftop bar, called the AC Upper Deck. It opens to the public in the evening, so we’re hoping we’ll have access to it in the early afternoon, when the place is quiet and unpopulated. Of course, if wind, rain, harsh sunlight, or bugs are a factor, we’ll play the game in the safety of our hotel room. (And yes, that’s Great American Ball Park on the right).

Yep, that’s me back in 1983, standing at the corner of Walnut and 2nd in Cincinnati, with a monstrous Riverfront Stadium looming up behind me in the distance. It was my first visit to Cincinnati, and my Uncle Charlie and I were on our way from our downtown hotel to the stadium, for a ‘Johnny Bench Nite’ game between the Reds and Astros, where the team was throwing a retirement party for my all-time favorite player. And not only would it be the last time Bench would ever catch in a game, it would also be the last time he’d do this.

After the game, Steve and I will head next door to the Holy Grail Tavern & Grille, a Reds and Bengals sports bar, for a 40th Anniversary post-game celebration. If such an item exists, I’ll purchase a Holy Grail pint glass to memorialize the occasion. Then, throughout the rest of  Saturday afternoon and evening, I’ll play three more games from the August 22nd slate, just like I’d done forty years earlier on Opening Day. Watch the NL sidebar on this page for final scores, and check back for more 40th Anniversary posts later today!


14 responses to “SP78 Replay Celebrates 40 Years Today!

  1. Will there be cardboard fans watching and pretend noise sound effects? Oh wait a minute, that is real baseball.

    • Ha, that wouldn’t have been a bad idea! We considered inviting other hotel guests, but instead we chose to keep it simple, and just had classic rock playing in the background.

  2. That sounds like a great weekend, enjoy the game and time.

    • Hey Reid! Yes, so far a great handful of days out here in Cincy…and still three more games to go today. Can Jim Lonborg and the Phillies top Bob Shirley and the Padres? I know what your answer will be…

  3. Whollymakerel! That rooftop bar is really spectacular. I’m not sure that if I ever was there that I would ever leave! When I first saw that pic of you in your mask with the Reds dude in the background (I’m assuming that’s a young Johnny Bench), I thought it was a LIVE person and struggled with what that was all about – was he a tour-guide in uniform? etc. But NOW unless my eyes deceive me – that’s a wax figure – which is really kewl!! I hope you took a pic w/o your mask for your memorabilia collection!


    • That rooftop bar WOULD’VE been spectacular, if they’d allowed us up there…but you couldn’t go up until they were open, which completely negated us playing the game there, plus we couldn’t even visit to enjoy the view, because you have to be seated and order drinks…you couldn’t just hang out!

      And yes, that was Mr Johnny! And no, not a live tour guide sneaking up on me, but a wax-like mannequin frozen in time…but I like you thought that scary thing was real! And no, I liked the mask photo, so I just stuck with that one. And most importantly, thanks for the anniversary salutations, Julie!

      • If they let you or anyone up there just to hang out – the place would be full or close to it and revenue would be zilch. You’ll have to go back now and get tipsy on the booze and the altitude! 🙂

      • I just wish it had, at the very least, been available for hanging out BEFORE they opened for drinks and nightlife…when it was empty and there was no booze money to be made. And I wish the observation deck at the Carew Tower had been open as well…now THAT would’ve been a view!

  4. I missed this segment until I scrolled down. Too many postings in one day I guess. Where is Johnny’s mask? Or did he have a COVID test before your entry? Why didn’t you guys go to the rooftop bar and order a pint so you could play? After downing the beverage tell the server your story and I’m sure the glass is yours! Looks like a fun trip!

    • Yeah, I think that’s an SP78 record…three posts in one day! And Bench’s mask is in his hand…his catcher’s mask, that is (which is NOT cleared for virus prevention). And under the existing conditions, there was no way we’d be playing a game in that rooftop bar: too many people, it would be nighttime and hard to see the cards and board, and I’m sure they wouldn’t let us have classic rock playing from my Walkman speakers while we played. Just too many roadblocks…so we went with the hotel room.

  5. This is a great project and I’ve really enjoyed following along. Your slow pace in this replay is perfect. You clearly are making the most of every moment and thinking through ways to make it even more enjoyable. Thanks for posting all this online.

    • Thanks for the nice comment, Terry, and glad to hear you’re having fun with the site. And yes, the pace is definitely a slow one…I just hope I get to the World Series before I’m 90!

  6. I didn’t see any mention of the fact that I piloted the last place Blue Jays to a victory over the first place Rangers. Did I miss that? They now have opposite records, too.

    • I wrote this article several days prior to the actual 40th Anniversary, so it would be ready to post that morning, which explains why there’s no mention of that Rangers-Jays outcome of the day before. There’s also no mention of the game we played the day you arrived in AZ, before we left for Ohio, where I led the Tigers to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat of the team you were managing, the Twins. But don’t fret…I’ll write up and post recaps for both of those skillfully-managed victories soon!

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