UC Sports Researcher Pitches Pictorial History Of The Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds were the last baseball team to allow photographers on the field during a game, and photographer Jack Klumpe brought that home plate advantage to thousands of fans over a career that spanned 35 years. From Crosley Field to Riverfront stadium, Klumpe captured the Reds’ glory years. His most memorable images of baseball can now be treasured by fans in The Cincinnati Reds – 1950-1985, a new book with text by Kevin Grace, UC head of archives and adjunct assistant professor in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).


This photographic history takes Reds fans beyond the ballpark to the most emotional moments of the team’s most beloved heroes. There’s a photo of Tony Perez and his family in a courtroom, each with their hand solemnly raised, as they’re sworn into U.S. citizenship. Klumpe covered the careers of Joe Nuxhall and Joe Morgan, both of whom are featured on the cover of the book.

There’s the 1964 Rookie of the Year photo of Pete Rose, along with photos of some of his more unusual haircuts. Toward the end of the book, double-page photo spreads reveal the genuine affection shared by members of the Big Red Machine.

“What we’re really trying to show through the photographs is how Cincinnatians relate to the team,” says Grace, who researches the social history of baseball. “We emphasize the 60s – the middle of Jack Klumpe’s career – when the Reds were still playing at Crosley Field and Pete Rose and Johnny Bench are starting for the first time.”

Johnny Bench, holding a letter from a fan who asked him if it was really true that he could hold seven baseballs in one just one hand, gives his own demonstration to Klumpe’s camera.

“We talk about the Frank Robinson trade – probably the worst trade ever in the history of baseball, second only to Babe Ruth being sold to the Yankees,” Grace says. “In part,  Frank Robinson was a victim of racism in Cincinnati. He was an outspoken individual and it rubbed Cincinnatians the wrong way.”

Klumpe’s camera carried Fred Hutchinson’s emotional farewell to the fans, after lung cancer forced Hutchinson’s resignation in 1964 and then took his life at age 45.

Klumpe graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1942 with a bachelor’s of science degree in education. He began his career as a copyboy at The Kentucky Post in the summer of 1942, then taught at Holmes High School in Covington in 1942-1943, went back to work full-time at The Kentucky Post and eventually moved to The Cincinnati Post.

He was clicking his speed-graphic camera during the heyday of print journalism, when television cameras and their live vans and satellite trucks were virtually nonexistent at the ballparks.  “The last professional picture that I took was on Sept. 11, 1985, and if you’re a baseball fan, you know what that is,” Klumpe says, chuckling. “I had retired the month before and United Press International asked me to come back to Riverfront (to get Pete Rose breaking the all-time hit record of Ty Cobb). I was in the centerfield camera position, and it was one of the first pictures to move on the network.”

The photo pioneer says his last professional camera was a Nikon, which he called “the workhorse of all photographers.” But as technology has evolved, he says he “has the yen to go into digital photography. I’m just so busy now, being retired!”

Klumpe donated a substantial portion of his print collection to the University of Cincinnati archives. His photography career didn’t just stop with the sports arena. Photos in the UC Klumpe collection depict historic events in Cincinnati that include visits by national politicians, the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in 1977, The Who concert tragedy in 1979 and The Beatles visit to Cincinnati in 1964.

Published by Arcadia’s “Images of Baseball” series ($19.99), The Cincinnati Reds – 1950-1985 went on sale Aug. 23 at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Joseph-Beth Booksellers and the UC Bookstore. A book-signing will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in West Chester.

Grace, meanwhile, isn’t finished with taking a swing at the history of the Reds. He’s planning to release a history from 1900-1950 in the spring, just in time for Opening Day.