Dayton, KY Mayor Declares Reds Opening Day as Official Holiday in City
Nonessential personnel at the City of Dayton will have the day off on March 26 in honor of the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day game and celebration.
Mayor Ben Baker issued a proclamation on Thursday making it so.
"We encourage (employees) to take a child to the parade, the ball game, or watch it on TV and enjoy the national pastime," Baker told The River City News. "The history of Dayton is very closely interlinked to the history of baseball."
Baker said that Dayton resident and local filmmaker Cam MIller researched and found that the first baseball game played west of the Allegheny Mountains was played in Dayton, between the Brooklyn Eagles and the Live Oaks of Cincinnati.
From Baker's remarks at a special press conference announcing the proclamation on Thursday:
"Baseball has a long and storied tradition right here on the banks of the Ohio River in Dayton, Kentucky. In the mid 1800s, river men would stop on their travels along
our shores and bring the sport of the eastern seaboard to our town folks.
"One gentleman in particular, Riverboat captain Henry Pudder, a native of Pittsburgh who is credited with introducing the game here and establishing a club in the late 1850s along with members of the riverboat/shipbuilding community along the banks of Ohio River in Brooklyn, what we now know as Dayton, Kentucky.
"On September 8, 1866, the very first match game of baseball between two clubs was played in a lot on the school grounds in Dayton Kentucky. The Eagles of Brooklyn vs. Live Oaks of Cincinnati. Although Brooklyn lost the game 52-41, the star of the game was Brooklyn captain and catcher James Mahaffey who although used only one hand to swing the bat, would hit the ball over the schoolhouse each time he came to bat.
"The Live Oaks countered by placing a fielder on other side of the schoolhouse in an attempt to catch the towering fly balls."
Baker cited Dayton natives Lee and Jesse Tannehill, who starred as professional baseball players in the early twentieth century, and Todd Benzinger, who caught the final out in the Reds' 1990 World Series championship win over the Oakland Athletics.
"As you can see, Dayton Kentucky has had a very important place in the formation of the great sport that we know as our national pastime," Baker said. "To quote James Earl Jones’s character Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams, America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.
"Dayton has played a part in it’s fruition and today we recognize this contribution and celebrate it."
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher