Ohio Cup

Ohio Cup
Cincinnati Reds
Cleveland Indians
First meeting June 16, 1997
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio
Latest meeting May 19, 2016
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Next meeting 2017
Meetings total 99
Regular season series Indians, 54-45
Largest victory Indians, 15-2 (July 2, 2004)
Longest win streak Indians, 6 (twice, most recent: July 18, 2015–present)
Current win streak Indians, 6

The Ohio Cup, also known as the Battle of Ohio, is an annual interleague rivalry series between the two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams from the U.S. state of Ohio: the Cincinnati Reds of the National League (NL) and the Cleveland Indians of the American League (AL). The series name comes from the trophy the teams play for, which was first introduced in 1989 for an annual pre-season exhibition game between the two teams, and later reintroduced in 2008. The cup is awarded to the team that wins the most games against the other in a particular season. In the event of a tie, the team holding the trophy from the previous season retains it.

Prior to the introduction of interleague play, the Reds and Indians had only met in spring training or other exhibition games. Because the two teams play in opposite leagues, the only chance they can meet in the postseason is in the World Series. The Ohio Cup series was originally created in 1989 and was an exhibition game between the two teams played in the state capital of Columbus at Cooper Stadium just prior to the start of the season. A total of eight Ohio Cup games were played, from 1989 to 1996, with the Indians winning six. The games in Columbus were typically well-attended, with attendance topping the stadium's 15,000-seat capacity in all but one year.

The regular-season series began in 1997 with the start of interleague play and has been played every season since except 2002. From 1999–2001 and every season since 2004, the teams meet in two three-game series per season, one in Cincinnati and one in Cleveland. For the 2013, 2014, and 2016 seasons, two two-game series were played back-to-back at each team's home field. Through the 2016 meetings, the Indians lead the all-time regular-season series 54–45.


A pennant from the 1989 Ohio Cup.

Both the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians are among the oldest teams in Major League Baseball. The current Reds franchise was founded in 1881 and joined the National League in 1890, while the Indians are a 1901 charter member of the American League. Because the two teams are part of different leagues, however, the only chance for them to meet was in the World Series, which has not occurred through 2014. Cincinnati won the tainted 1919 World Series and the Indians won the World Series the following year. In 1940, the Reds again won the World Series with the Indians finishing second in the American League.

Through 2014, the teams have only made the playoffs in the same season twice. The first time was in 1995 when both teams won their respective division and advanced to their respective League Championship Series. Both teams, however, fell to the eventual champion Atlanta Braves as the Reds were swept in four games in the National League Championship Series and the Indians lost the World Series four games to two. The Reds and Indians both made the playoffs again in 2013 as wild-card entries, and both were eliminated in the opening wild-card game.

First Ohio Cup (1989–96)

No. Year Date Winner Venue Attendance
11989 April 2 Indians 1–0 Cooper Stadium 15,978
21990 April 8 Indians 12–3 Cooper Stadium 15,878
31991 April 7 Indians 4–3 Cooper Stadium 16,276
41992 April 5 Reds 2–0 Cooper Stadium 15,820
51993 April 3 Indians 9–1 Cooper Stadium 15,596
61994 April 1 Indians 8–4 Cooper Stadium 15,894
71995 March 31 Reds 6–1 Cooper Stadium 2,000
81996 March 31 Indians 5–3 Cooper Stadium 16,697

Details of the original Ohio Cup were unveiled at a press conference on August 25, 1988. At that time, the two teams occasionally played each other in spring training and had yet to make the post-season in the same season. The managers of both teams 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 as, at that time, Columbus did not have any major sports franchises.[1]

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.[1] 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."[1] Crowds averaged 15,910 fans for 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.

A ticket from the 1989 Ohio Cup.

The first Reds and Indians Ohio Cup match-up was marred by 40 °F (4 °C) temperatures made colder by constant rain and brisk wind. 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.

Indians outfielder Albert Belle hit his eleventh home run of the exhibition season as the Indians beat the defending World Champion Reds 4-3 in 1991. 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, Ramírez 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)

The logo for the Ohio Cup.

In 1997 the Ohio Cup match series was discontinued with the introduction of interleague play and games between the Indians and the Reds continued as the "Battle of Ohio" series. 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.

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. The Reds and Indians did not play each other in 2002 and played one three-game series in 2003. In 2004, the Indians-Reds rivalry resumed, playing six games per year. During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Reds and Indians played each other in two two-game series, played back to back. The home-and-home three-game series format returned for 2015. 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.

Ohio Cup revived

The Ohio Cup was reintroduced in 2008 with a new trophy. The trophy is 3 feet high, with a 12-inch stainless cup in the middle. It is awarded to the team that wins the season series in a given year. When the teams split the season series, the team that currently holds the trophy retains it. Through the 2016 season, the Reds have won the trophy four times, the Indians three times, with three ties.[2]

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 Vólquez, 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. The Indians won the trophy in 2011 by sweeping the first series in Cleveland, and winning 2 of 3 in the Cincinnati series. The Indians retained the trophy In 2012 and 2013 as the two teams split the Ohio Cup series, with each team sweeping their respective home series.

In 2013 and 2014, the Indians and Reds played four games per year instead of six, in two back-to-back two-game series, a format Major League Baseball used for all similar rivalry series and additional interleague matchups. 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. In 2014, the order was reversed with the first two games in Cleveland and the last two in Cincinnati, in successive days. The six-game format featuring a three-game series at each ballpark returned in 2015 with the Indians taking all three games at Progressive Field in May, and two of three at Great American Ball Park in July. In 2016, the rivalry reverted to the four-game home-and-home format.

Results summary

Year Cleveland Cincinnati Dates played MVP (2008–11, 2014–present)
1997 Indians 1 Reds 2 June 16–18
1998 Indians 2 Reds 1 June 5–7
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
2003 Indians 2 Reds 1 June 27–29
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 23–25, 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 Asdrúbal Cabrera, Indians SS
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 Kristopher Negron, Reds IF
2015 Indians 5 Reds 1 May 22–24, July 17–19 Jason Kipnis, Indians 2B
2016 Indians 4 Reds 0 May 16–17, May 18–19 Rajai Davis, Indians outfielder
Overall Indians 54 Reds 45 [3]

Spring training

The Indians and Reds have met many times in spring training as part of the Grapefruit League and Cactus League as the two teams trained at various times in Florida and Arizona. Since 2010, the Indians and Reds have shared Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona as their main spring training site. The Indians opened the stadium in 2009 and the Reds joined them the following season after both teams had previously held spring training at separate facilities in Florida.

The teams even cleared their benches during an exhibition in 1993, when José Mesa threw a pitch behind Cincinnati's Hal Morris leading to a fight in which Morris separated his shoulder.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Chronicle-Telegram. Sunday, April 2, 1989
  2. Ky. Firm Designs Ohio Cup - KYPost.com
  3. "Year-by-Year Baseball History". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
  4. Associated Press (1993-03-31). "SPORTS PEOPLE; Reds' Morris Injured". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
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