This Day in Baseball History: January 27th, 1937

Crosley Field not covered in water. The picture of the two pitchers is supposedly famous, but I couldn’t find it. If anyone knows how to find it, please let me know.

On January 27, 1937:

Cincinnati Reds pitchers Gene Schott and Lee Grissom row into Crosley Field on the back of the worst flood in Cincinnati history.

During the winter of 1936 and 1937, water levels on the Ohio River began to rise, and when a severe winter storm slammed into the area, the Ohio River flooded over the banks. From January 10 through 18, flood warnings were issued all over the area, but soon, record rainfalls pushed the river into homes and downtown Cincinnati. On January 23, martial law was declared in Evansville Indiana as the waters reached 54 feet high. By the 26th, water levels reached 80 feet in Cincinnati, and the following day, Louisville was swallowed by 57 feet of water. The river would fall below flood stage until February 5th.

The impacts were devastating. 100,000 were left homeless in Cincinnati, power was cut, and transportation systems shut down. Louisville was hammered as well, losing famed Rose Island theme park and a major rebuilding of the city. In response, the government initially was not ready for such a natural disaster. The government would build several reservoirs along the Ohio River, but they weren’t finished until the 1940’s. Still, those reservoirs have saved millions in flood damage since.

From the baseball perspective, Crosley Field was not untouched. Indeed, it was covered with 21 feet of water. Here’s a look of what it looked like inside Crosley Field during the flood. Gene Schott and Lee Grissom would team up with a groundscrew member and row a boat over the center field wall (where the flood waters came in) and into the field area in a famous stunt. The photographer was there as the three rowed to the pitcher’s mound.

Despite the damage, the Reds would still play their home-opener for the 1937 season in Crosley Field, but the team, waterlogged, would finish dead-last with a 56-98 record.

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