Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Reds authority dies

Bob Littlejohn attended 66 Opening Days

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Reds' Opening Day won't be the same next year. Robert “Bob” Littlejohn won't be there.

        The inveterate source of anecdotes and material for journalists and videographers died Sunday night at Sunrise Assisted Living, Montgomery, after a long illness. The Oakley resident was 77.

        “He was my go-to guy for Opening Day stories,” said Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Howard Wilkinson. “He loved it so much and talked about it so well.”

        Mr. Littlejohn, a retired accountant, went to his first Opening Day at age 9. The principal at his grade school had gotten wind of the fact that little Bobby might be missing school the next day because of a baseball game.

        The principal called Bobby's mother.

        “You are absolutely correct,” Ruth told the principal. “It's Opening Day and he's going to the game. It's his Christmas present.”

        The principal tread no further.

        Mr. Littlejohn's son, Roger of Columbia Tusculum, laughed at the telling of that story Tuesday.

        Little Bobby not only went to that Opening Day game in 1932 — “the (upper-deck) seats at Crosley Field were so cold that day, when you'd sit down they'd send a shock right through you,” Roger Littlejohn said — he kept going up until World War II when he served in the Army.

        “I don't think anybody could expect me to get here from New Guinea or the Philippines,” Mr. Littlejohn deadpanned to Mr. Wilkinson on the eve of Opening Day 1993.

        That was Mr. Littlejohn's 60th Opening Day ... and he made another six, including the opening — and close — of the charmed 96-victory season that ended last October with the playoff loss to the New York Mets. At his side at the '99 opener was Drew Littlejohn, 11, whom Grandpa took to his first opener at age 4.

        Mr. Littlejohn, a 1948 graduate of the University of Cincinnati, was also a season ticket holder for UC football and basketball and the Cincinnati Bengals. During his illness, he urged his son to take over his Bengals seat licenses.

        “Dad told me there weren't too many people who'd had Bengals season tickets longer,” Roger Littlejohn said. “He was right. He was No.34.”

        A few years ago, baseball historian Greg Rhodes of East Walnut Hills was researching his book, Crosley Field. He sought out Mr. Littlejohn for identifications of some Reds players in a 1930s photograph.

        “Hey, that's me!” exclaimed Mr. Littlejohn, pointing to a teen-age lad in an usher's suit. He had begun working for the Reds while he was in high school.

        On numerous occasions, Mr. Rhodes was able to get information from Mr. Littlejohn in five minutes that would have taken hours to dig out of a library's archives.

        Mr. Littlejohn's wife of 46 years, Cecilia, died in 1996. Although their son recalled going to Major League Baseball games across the country during family vacations, his mother and dad also traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and South America.

        Other survivors include a sister, Virginia Emerson of Cincinnati; and two other grandchildren.

        Visitation 9:30-11 a.m. Friday at Witt, Good & Kelsch Funeral Home, 3026 Madison Road, Oakley. A service will follow at the funeral home.

        Memorials: United Church of Christ, 4100 Taylor Ave., Cincinnati 45209, or American Parkinson Disease Association, 231 Bethesda Ave., Suite 4005, Cincinnati 45229.


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- Reds authority dies