Here are two reports filed by Redleg Nation members Andrew Bell and Jim Holmes who attended the Reds Western Tour caravan stop in Bloomington, IN.
“Tonight the Reds Winter Caravan rolled into the snowy, cold, winter night in Bloomington, IN. One hour before the honored guests were to take the podium there was already a line that was wrapping around the food court in the local Bloomington mall. A Reds’ event organizer took to the podium at around 5:50 and let the growing crowd know that due to the poor weather earlier in southern and eastern Indiana the Reds Caravan would be arriving late but would soon be in.
At 6:20pm Phil Castellini, Thom Brennaman, Corky Miller, and Ryan LaMarre took the stage. Thom started by introducing everyone and let the crowd know that Bruce would be along a bit later. It was earlier announced that Walt Jocketty would be one of the headliners for the caravan, but due to the unfortunate passing of Stan Musial, Jocketty decided to attend his funeral and would be missing this leg of the caravan.
After introductions by Brennaman he played to the crowd about Indiana University Basketball being back and playfully quipped “but they won’t beat Ohio State” which drew some loud boo’s and groans. The microphone was then opened up to anyone in the crowd who had a question for any of the players. Unfortunately, the way the line had triple wrapped around the corners of the mall the vast majority of fans could not ask or hear any of the questions that were being asked.
The first question was for Phil Castellini and was in regards to hearing anything on the Scott Rolen free agency front. Castellini responded that there has not been anything decided one way or the other but that those decisions would be between the front office and Rolen and they are open to talking to him.
The next question was directed towards Brennaman and was what excites him the most about this Reds team. Brennaman responded by comparing the excitement of the Big Red Machine to this team that has won two division titles in the last 3 years and has youth but experience, pitching, defense, and a very potent offense. Brennaman also went as far as to say that “without doubt, the best years for this Reds organization are the next few years with our front office, management, pitching, offense, etc.”
Bruce was asked if he was comfortable playing center field this year and he responded with a succinct, “yes”. He added that he is comfortable playing center but the plan going in to spring training is he will be the everyday right fielder.
The question presented to Corky Miller by far got the loudest laugh from the crowd when a fan asked if Miller would be able to throw out a stealing Billy Hamilton. Miller responded by confidently say “Yes, I definitely could catch him stealing”, “If he stole 100 time he might get on base 2 or 3 times but that wouldn’t be my fault that would be the pitcher’s”. The crowd that could hear that amazing quote burst into laughter.
Unfortunately after only those four questions Brennaman said the Q&A portion would move to the autograph session. The entire Q&A only lasted nine minutes and I would assume that due to time constraints, running late, and the large crowd that had lined up for autographs, the panel was instructed to keep it quite quick. It was nice that we could get the players and Reds organization members down here in south-central Indiana as there is a large Hoosier Reds fan base, but you could tell that some fans were hoping for a bit more in terms of the Q&A. All in all it was a nice experience that showed this Reds fans were behind this year’s team and very excited to see the product out on the field.”
“A large crowd snaked around the northern end of College Mall in Bloomington, Indiana to experience the Western Tour of the Reds Caravan on Friday evening. Fortunately I was able to arrive fairly early and secure a place in line reasonably close to the front. The event was slated for 6pm and the Caravan arrived at 6:10, but I did not hear anyone grumble.
There were folks of all ages clad in their Reds caps and jerseys. As I arrived I spoke to an elderly gentleman who had never been to a Caravan previously and I quickly informed him of the procedure. In line, I conversed with a young Afghanistan War veteran who had brought his pre-school son and four-month old daughter. They were very excited, as this was their first time for Caravan also. My son and daughter were also with me and they were looking forward to getting their Reds Heads caps signed.
When the Caravan arrived, Thom Brennaman took the microphone and introduced Jay Bruce, Ryan LaMarre, Corky Miller, Phil Castellini, as well as himself. He did take a couple of questions from the audience but I was unable to hear due the cacophony in the mall and the inadequate sound system. As the line progressed to front, Mr. Red and Mr. Redlegs meandered through the crowd posing for photos and signing autographs. All the kids loved this. When we made it to the platform to get our autographs, everyone was polite and appeared to be having a good time. Although I believe Corky may be a bit shy around crowds. A young gentleman in front of us brought a beautiful painting of Jay Bruce to have him sign.
Over to the side were a couple of tables with schedules, posters, promotions, and a display case from the Reds Hall of Fame. I can’t say enough about how well the organization works to win the hearts of their fans. In my estimation there were 300-400 people and in the five years I have attended, it has gotten progressively larger. As someone who grew up watching the Reds on Channel 4, I am glad to see that south-central Indiana is Reds country once again. If you get a chance to go to a Caravan this weekend, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is a great way to meet the Reds and mingle with fellow fans.”