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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Film on Riverfront Stadium premieres this summer

An aerial view of sold-out Riverfront Stadium for its first game on June 30, 1970.
Cam Miller
An aerial view of sold-out Riverfront Stadium for the first game on June 30, 1970.

New 30-minute film by Cam Miller celebrates the sights, sounds, signs and significance of the Cincinnati Reds' ballpark from June 30, 1970, through the 2002 season.

Cincinnati Reds fans have seen highlights of the team's great moments in Riverfront Stadium many times: Pete Rose's record-breaking hit number 4,912; Tom Browning's perfect game; the five World Series and seven National League Championship Series games...

So filmmaker Cam Miller didn't include them in his new Riverfront Remembered film premiering this summer at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

The star of his 30-minute film is Riverfront Stadium, the round multipurpose ballpark which opened June 30, 1970, two weeks before hosting the 1970 All-Star Game.

"The stadium is the main character, not the highlights of the moments we remember. So when people watch this film, they'll be transported back in time to Riverfront Stadium," says Miller, 48, a former Hall of Fame employee who has made all the films shown in the Reds museum, including the individual videos for each Hall of Famer. He's a great follow on Twitter because he posts so many historic Reds photos and videos.

Fans emerge from the Riverfront Stadium garage escalators (far left) and head for one of the many gates on the stadium plaza in the 1990s.
Courtesy Cam Miller
Fans emerge from the Riverfront Stadium garage escalators (far left) and head for one of the many gates on the stadium plaza in the 1990s.

Instead of Johnny Bench hitting a home run or Tom Seaver tossing a no-hitter, viewers will see the 1969 construction; installation of the AstroTurf playing surface; crowds inside the stadium or on the Riverfront Plaza; the color-coded green, blue, yellow and red signs for the Plaza, Field, Club and Loge levels; and the black-and-white Mr. Reds race cartoon and "Walks Will Haunt" ghost on the centerfield scoreboard. (Miller recreated the old school Mr. Reds race for the Great American Ball Park video screen in 2016 for Rose's Hall of Fame induction weekend.)

The audience will hear the original public address announcement greeting fans as they approached the stadium plaza entrances: "Welcome to Riverfront Stadium. Please check your ticket for the proper gate to enter. Cans and bottles and alcoholic beverages are not permitted to be brought into the stadium."

Like his Crosley Field Remembered, the Riverfront film comes with minimal narration and no nostalgic interviews with favorite former players or front office folks. He also composed and wrote all the music, and edited the film.

"I didn't want to do a lot of talking heads. We've heard that all before," says Miller, a visitor services employee when the Reds Hall of Fame opened in 2006, and later education manager. He's been "Hall of Fame film guy" for 17 years, he says.

Riverfront Remembered includes the quirks of the then-ultra-modern facility — the dirt sliding pits at each base; the outfield distances listed in feet and meters; and the lowering of the original 12-foot outfield walls to eight feet when Bob Howsam returned as general manager in 1984. That's why the Big Red Machine centerfielder couldn't leap up to catch potential home runs, as Eric Davis did a decade later.

"Geronimo couldn't do it because the wall was 12 feet in the 1970s. He couldn't jump that high," Miller says.

Reds fans will recognize plenty of familiar faces. Film from the final homestand in September 2002 shows Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Sparky Anderson, Eric Davis, David Concepcion, Tom Hume and other former Reds gathered for the goodbye.

And they'll see arguably the most beloved Red, pitcher-turned-broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, tell the sold-out crowd on the last day: "Baseball has been in my life for 58 years now. But these past 30 years, right here, have been the greatest of my career. And when this place is knocked down December the 29th, those memories will not leave this area. They'll always be here."

Miller puts a clever twist on the Dec. 29, 2002, implosion. In two trailers posted on his Cam Miller Films YouTube channel, Miller runs the implosion backwards, so the iconic stadium literally rises from the ashes.

Filmmaker Cam Miller, who worked at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum when it opened in 2005, makes all the films displayed in the Hall of Fame.
Courtesy Cam Miller
Filmmaker Cam Miller, who worked at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum when it opened in 2005, makes all the films displayed in the Hall of Fame.

Miller says he'll eventually make a Riverfront trilogy, with films about the Bengals and the concerts.

Riverfront Remembered: The Jungle will look at the fan experience watching the Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason teams which played in the 1982 and 1989 Super Bowl, and the subsequent losing seasons. "Before last year, the best years for the Bengals were at Riverfront Stadium," Miller says.

Riverfront Remembered: The Shows will have footage of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Kool Jazz Festival and other performances, plus clips from a This Is Your Life TV show about Johnny Bench taped at home plate, he says.

First, Riverfront Remembered will premiere in the Reds Hall of Fame theater. Later this year it will be available on Miller's YouTube channel so Reds fans around the world can see it, Miller says.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.