This out-of-town element in the stands, important as it is to the Red-legs' season attendance, does tend to mute the partisan tone of the crowd. It is not so much a pro- Cincinnati audience as it is pro-baseball and, therefore, while it is knowing, it sometimes sounds a little sedate compared to, say, the mobs in Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Boston. Not that the word "fanatic" doesn't apply. One pleasant-looking woman in her late 30s fell heavily in an aisle at a night game.
"Is she drunk?" a man asked, looking at her but not moving.
Another man, more concerned over the woman's need for help than with her moral state, helped her to her feet and found that her collapse had been the result of heat exhaustion rather than liquor. She had driven that day all the way from North Carolina.
"My husband's very interested over baseball," she explained in a mountain accent, her voice weak, her face still pale. She smiled a little and waved vaguely at the crowded row of seats. "He's settin' out ther' someplace."
ENTHUSIASM IN THE BROILING SUN
But even with the big out-of-town ticket sale, downtown Cincinnati gets excited, too, over the Reds. This is a good baseball center; the steady if decidedly unspectacular attendance figures over the years when the Reds were a hopeless second-division team confirm that. Now that there's powerful and dramatic baseball to be seen at Crosley Field, interest is at a high pitch. The crowds have been consistently over 20,000 in the tiny grandstands (capacity 29,584 seats, smallest in the majors), and the Redleg management quietly but hopefully anticipates that this may be the year the Redlegs go over a million in attendance for the first time in history. They are at present the only major league team that has never done a million.
People who stop off to buy tickets in the air-cooled lobby of the downtown Redleg office are enthusiastic enough to wait patiently in line even when the line spills outside and up Vine Street under the broiling Cincinnati sun.
"They's lines halfway up the square," a boy said excitedly. "I never seen anything like that before. Usually you just walk right in."
The chances are good that there will be a lot more "lines halfway up the square" before World Series time, though Birdie Tebbetts shakes his head when asked about his pitching and says, in an exaggerated whisper, " Milwaukee! Mil-wauk-kee! Five starting pitchers! Five!"
But Tebbetts has seven solid home run hitters, seven! And if pennants are paid for by big hairy-backed sluggers, Birdie may have a ringside seat at the 1956 Series.