In its first series it was a single-game cup, played each year at minor-league Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, was staged just days before the start of each new Major League Baseball season. A total of eight Ohio Cup games were played, in 1989 to 1996, with the Indians winning six of them. It stopped because interleague play started in 1997. The winner of the game each year was awarded the Ohio Cup in postgame ceremonies. The Ohio Cup was a favorite among baseball fans in Columbus, with attendances regularly topping 15,000.
In 1997 and after, the two teams competed annually in the regular-season Battle of Ohio or Buckeye Series. In 2008 the Ohio Cup restarted.
Through the 2014 meetings, the Indians lead the all-time regular season interleague series, 45-44.
The Indians and Reds have, on occasion, met in other non-competitive games.
During Spring training in March 2007 the rivals faced each other twice. The Indians won the first game on March 9 7-3. The Reds won a game on March 10 by a score of 5-2.
The teams however, as mentioned above, have yet to meet in the World Series. There have been several near misses though, including 1995, when both teams advanced to their respective League Championship Series, but only Cleveland won - the Reds were swept in four games by the eventual champions Atlanta Braves.
The Ohio Cup's origin
Ohio's two Major League Baseball teams had never met in the World Series. Prior to 1989, the teams had never even qualified for the post-season in the same year. They came close in both 1919 and 1940 when Cincinnati won both the National League and World Series and Cleveland finished second in the American League.
Details of an Ohio Cup were first unveiled at a press conference on August 25, 1988. The managers of both the Indians and Reds did not treat the cup game as anything more than an exhibition, but many fans in Columbus treated it like a referendum on major league sports in the city. At that time Columbus did not have any major league sports.
Sitting between Cleveland and Cincinnati, the city was always divided when it came to allegiance to the state's big league teams. "Half the fans (in Columbus) love the Reds and hate the Indians and the other half love the Indians and hate the Reds. It's a great matchup", said the game's promoter, Keith Sprunk.
Indians manager Doc Edwards agreed. "I'll love to play it, it's great. San Francisco and Oakland do the same thing. I'd like to see (the Ohio Cup) become an annual thing, either during the spring or in the summer.".
A number of former Columbus Clippers returned to Cooper Stadium to play in the Ohio Cup as members of the Reds or Indians. Among those appearing for the Reds were Roberto Kelly, the 1987 Clipper of the Year, and pitcher José Rijo who appeared briefly with Columbus in 1984. The 1989 Co-Clipper of the Year winners Hal Morris and Brian Dorsett also featured. Álvaro Espinoza, who hit .246 in 119 games with the Clippers in 1988, appeared for Cleveland and knocked in a run with a pinch-hit double in the 1993 Ohio Cup.
Ohio Cup (1989-96)
|1||1989||April 2||Indians||1||Reds||0||Cooper Stadium||15,978|
|2||1990||April 8||Indians||12||Reds||3||Cooper Stadium||15,878|
|3||1991||April 7||Indians||4||Reds||3||Cooper Stadium||16,276|
|4||1992||April 5||Reds||2||Indians||0||Cooper Stadium||15,820|
|5||1993||April 3||Indians||9||Reds||1||Cooper Stadium||15,596|
|6||1994||April 1||Indians||8||Reds||4||Cooper Stadium||15,894|
|7||1995||March 31||Reds||6||Indians||1||Cooper Stadium||2,000|
|8||1996||March 31||Indians||5||Reds||3||Cooper Stadium||16,697|
An average crowd of 15,910 attended the first five Ohio Cups at the 15,000-seat Cooper Stadium. Those crowds ranked 3rd, 4th, 7th, 9th and 12th among all-time largest baseball crowds at the stadium. Only about 2000 made it out in 1995 with temperatures near freezing and replacement players taking the field.
The first Reds and Indians match-up in 16 years proved to be an anti-climax, marred by 40-degree temperatures made colder by constant rain and brisk wind. The so-called I-71 battle was uneventful and proved to be something less than a jump-start before both teams' home openers. Cleveland started only four regulars while Cincinnati opted to play seven of their nine starters. It remained scoreless until the top of the eighth inning when a throwing error by Reds outfielder Herm Winningham allowed Luis Aguayo to score the only run. Minor league pitcher Gregg McMichael received the win while Reds' reliever Mike Griffin was credited with the loss.
In the 1990 contest, catchers Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Joel Skinner combined for six RBI as the Indians won their second straight Ohio Cup before a standing-room only crowd. In an action-packed game, the Indians banged out 13 hits, including six in the fourth inning which resulted in seven-runs. Cory Snyder hit a monster blast off Danny Jackson that traveled well past the 400-foot sign in straightaway center field. Alomar homered twice, the first a three-run shot to left-center, the second a solo effort. Skinner hit a two run shot after being brought in to replace Alomar.
In 1991, Indians outfielder Albert Belle hit his eleventh home run of the exhibition season as the Indians beat the defending World Champion Reds 4-3. Jerry Browne hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to lift the Indians to victory.
The Reds finally ended their rivals' supremacy in 1992. Cincinnati took the lead in the first. Lead off hitter Bip Roberts doubled and later scored. They added another run in the fourth. Reds' third baseman Chris Sabo counted an RBI double among his two hits while Albert Belle hit two of his team's four hits.
Mike Bielecki stopped Cincinnati on one run and four hits in six innings and Albert Belle had a three-run single as the Tribe won their fourth Ohio Cup in five years in the 1993 contest. Highlights included a home run by Indians' first baseman Paul Sorrento. The only Reds run was scored by Barry Larkin.
In 1994, Manny Ramírez and Paul Sorrento homered in a five-run second inning to help give the Indians an 8-4 win. Mark Clark pitched seven innings, allowing five hits and three runs, walking one and striking out five to gain the win. Albert Belle and Eddie Murray led off the second inning with singles and Sorrento followed with his homer. After Jim Thome singled, Ramirez homered. All five runs came off Tom Browning.
With the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike only coming to an end on April 2, replacement players traveled to Columbus to take part in the 1995 edition. Teamsters picketed outside the stadium as snow fell. With temperatures near freezing and replacements Tim Delgado and Rich Sauveur taking the mound, only a couple thousand fans made it out. The "Reds" won the game 6-1.
A line drive single by Julio Franco in the fifth inning broke a 3-3 tie Cleveland defeated Cincinnati to win the final Ohio Cup in 1996. Manny Ramírez had given Cleveland a 3-1 lead with a three-run homer to left field in the second off the Reds' Mark Portugal. Hal Morris drove in two runs for the Reds with a first-inning single and a double in the third, with Bret Boone scoring both times. A single by Vince Coleman in the fifth drove in Jeff Branson and tied the score at 3-3.
The victory gave the Indians a 6-2 lead in the Ohio Cup series and was viewed by 16,697 people, the largest crowd in the game's history and the second largest at Cooper Stadium. Indians starter Joe Roa was the winning pitcher.
Interleague Series (1997-present)
Battle of Ohio: 1997 to 2007
In 1997 the Ohio Cup match series stopped and interleague play started. The rivalry between the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds continued as the Battle of Ohio match series. The series provided an opportunity to determine bragging rights for the state, the two teams having never met in the World Series. The Cleveland Indians lead the all-time interleague series 32-31.
The Indians and Reds first met on June 16, 1997 at Jacobs Field, in front of a sellout crowd of 42,961. Cleveland starting pitcher Orel Hershiser struck out lead off hitter Deion Sanders. Indians' designated hitter Kevin Seitzer recorded the first ever hit in a Battle for Ohio game when he doubled in the bottom of the first inning. Pokey Reese recorded the series first ever run, scoring in the bottom of the second inning for the Reds. Manny Ramírez hit the first Buckeye Series home run in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough to prevent the Reds winning the inaugural game 4-1.
The best performance by any player in one game in the rivalry was Reds center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. in 2000 with 8 RBI and 2 HR.
Except in 2002, the Indians and Reds have played each other every year since interleague play has been established. They have played each other 6 times every year from 1999–2012 except 2002 and 2003, with each team hosting a three-game series. In 2002 and 2003, other games, such as the Indians vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates, were played instead of the Buckeye Series. In 2004, the Indians-Reds rivalry resumed, playing six games per year.
Ohio Cup revived 2008-present
|Current holder(s)||Cincinnati Reds|
|Awarded to the||Team that wins the regular-season series between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.|
In 2008 the Ohio Cup restarted, and the Ohio Lottery now sponsors the Ohio Cup, which is now a 32-inch trophy which will go to the winner of the Reds-Indians series. If there is a split of the season series, the team that currently holds the trophy will retain it.
In the revived trophy's inaugural season, the Reds swept the first three game series at home, which took place between May 16–18 2008, after three strong performances by Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang, and Johnny Cueto. As the series moved back to Cleveland on June 27–29, with the Indians' C.C. Sabathia throwing a 6-0 shutout against the Reds in the first game. In the second, the Reds battled back with a strong effort by Cueto to win game two 5-0. The Cincinnati Reds clinched the cup with this win. In the final game in Cleveland, the Reds overcame a late surge by the Tribe to win 9-5, and the series itself 5 games to 1. Ballots were passed out in the middle of the final game for the MVP, awarded to Reds outfielder Adam Dunn, who had a combined five home runs and 10 RBI in the series.
In 2009, the Reds retained the trophy, winning four of the six contests. The Reds took two of the three games in Cincinnati in May, and went on to win two of the three games in Cleveland in June. In 2010, the Reds won the Ohio Cup again, winning 2 of 3 games in Cincinnati, and again winning 2 of 3 games in Cleveland. In 2011, the Indians regained the trophy by sweeping the first series in Cleveland, and winning 2 of 3 in the Cincinnati series.
In 2012, the Reds and Indians split the Ohio Cup series for the first time since its return, with each team sweeping their respective home series.
Beginning in 2013, the Indians and Reds have scaled back to play four games per year instead of six, in two back-to-back two-game series. The teams played in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on May 27 and 28, 2013, before traveling to Cleveland for games at Progressive Field on May 29 and 30. Once again, the Reds and Indians split the series, this time at two games apiece. The Reds won both of the games played in Cincinnati, while the Indians won both of the games played in Cleveland.
|Year||Cleveland||Cincinnati||Dates played||MVP (2008–10)|
|1999||Indians||4||Reds||2||June 11–13, July 9–11|
|2000||Indians||3||Reds||3||June 9–11, July 7–9|
|2001||Indians||3||Reds||3||June 8–10, July 12–14|
|2004||Indians||4||Reds||2||June 11–13, July 2–4|
|2005||Indians||4||Reds||2||May 20–22, June 24–26|
|2006||Indians||3||Reds||3||June 23-23, June 30-July 2|
|2007||Indians||3||Reds||3||May 18–20, June 8–10|
|2008||Indians||1||Reds||5||May 16–18, June 27–29||Adam Dunn, Reds OF|
|2009||Indians||2||Reds||4||May 22–24, June 26–28||Ramón Hernández, Reds C|
|2010||Indians||2||Reds||4||May 21–23, June 25–27||Shin-Soo Choo, Indians OF|
|2011||Indians||5||Reds||1||May 20–22, July 1–3|
|2012||Indians||3||Reds||3||June 12–14, June 18–20|
|2013||Indians||2||Reds||2||May 27–28, May 29–30|
|2014||Indians||1||Reds||3||August 4-5, August 6-7|
- Chronicle-Telegram. Sunday, April 2, 1989
- Castrovince, Anthony (2008-05-15). "Indians, Reds look to erase early woes". www.indians.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Ky. Firm Designs Ohio Cup - KYPost.com
- "Year-by-Year Baseball History". Baeball Almanac. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- The Battle for Ohio at MLB.com