A report from Columbus from Redleg Nation member Kyle Farmer.
The Reds Caravan Northern Tour rolled into the Arena District in downtown Columbus for a stop this morning. The doors were scheduled to open at 9 AM for the event and my family arrived a few minutes early to find several hundred hearty Reds fans already in line braving the cold air and flurries. Once inside Nationwide Arena, we were surprised to find seating set up for only about 150 folks. We were able to grab a good standing spot, however, and eagerly awaited the arrival of BP, Chris Welsh, Todd Benzinger, Tucker Barnhart, and Marty Brennaman.
As we waited, more and more and more people continued to file into the arena lobby. By 9:15, there were easily 350 people there, and we overheard a Columbus Blue Jackets employee say that she estimated somewhere between 700 and 800 total attendance at 10:00. The Reds employees who were advancing the trip were clearly a bit overwhelmed by the turnout as were the Nationwide Arena folks who were there. I spoke with a friend who had attended the caravan stop in Columbus last year, which was held at a local mall, and he said attendance this year was double to triple that of last year!
The stars arrived for a brief Q and A session, which was kept relatively short to allow as many folks as possible to get autographs. There were a couple of interesting answers from the panel:
Todd Benzinger said that he briefly looked at Barry Larkin after catching the foul ball behind first base to end the 1990 World Series to make 100% sure it was the third out so that he wouldn’t celebrate with only two outs. He said he saw Larkin “about ten feet in the air” and knew without a doubt it was out number three.
BP is a funny guy, and he tends to work some “mature” double entendres into his answers! His answer to how many runs he had scored about made me cover my eight-year old daughter’s ears! I thought his most interesting answer was to a question about his favorite ballparks. He said that he loved to play in Seattle and that he really liked to hit in Dodger Stadium. I thought this was unusual because Chavez Ravine has never been known as a hitter-friendly location.
Marty served as the master of ceremonies and introduced each of the panelists. As others have reported, he strongly questioned BP’s footwear choices by pointing out that Brandon was wearing what appeared to him to be women’s shoes!
I cannot imagine the patience it must take these guys to sign all these autographs on the caravan. Chris Welsh and Todd Benzinger both went out of their way to speak with my son and daughter about the Reds. Benzinger was really interested in a necklace each of my kids were wearing that has a photo of them with their Reds gear on it. He complimented them both on it and then asked my wife about it. He was a real class act.
The Reds Caravan was a great way to spend a Saturday morning for our family!
– Kyle Farmer