There was considerable negative response to my comments yesterday concerning my dismay at the turnout by Reds players for the visit to the National Naval Medical Center. I was upset that out of a group of over 30 players and coaches, only 8 were named as making the trip to Bethesda (Casey, Dunn, Kearns, Junior, Standridge, Weathers, Berry, and Narron).

The article was part of John Fay’s Reds Notebook.

I made it very clear how highly I thought of these 8 individuals for taking the time to visit these heroes who have given so much.

The biggest objection to my comment was that I didn’t know the entire story, so I was making a judgment without having all the information.

This was true, I only had the information the Enquirer saw fit to print about the visit. So, today I contacted NRMC and talked to Mike Grinage in their police department. He told me that groups like sports teams are not given a limit on the number of people that can come to visit the troops.

I also contacted Reds PR Director, Rob Butcher, who told me that there was no limit on how many they could bring, “though a number higher than we had (12 of us) would not have been manageable”. I emailed him back and asked him what he meant by being unmanageable and he said,” The group we had was terrific. The troops we visited clearly were touched. There is no need to make anything negative out of the visit.” I again asked him to clarify his statement and received no further response.

So, now we know they were not limited in how many people they could bring and of the Reds traveling party (and I don’t know how many that is), 12 saw fit to attend, of which only 6 were players. That is 6 players out of a roster of 25. It’s wonderful that Berry, Narron, Butcher, and some other non-players went, but their presence probably didn’t have the effect on these wounded service personnel that a few more players would have had.

Another complaint was that the players might have had “other commitments”.

Again, true. They could have. But I feel that persons in highly public positions like professional athletes should feel a sense of duty to the community. I know that many have their own community service interests. But this one was pretty important. I feel like it should have been considered almost a “required” community service commitment. For someone to have “other commitments” rather than going on this trip, it’d have to be pretty important. I can’t imagine what would have been more important than this visit.

The last complaint was that this was basically “much ado about nothing”.

I couldn’t disagree more. I am appalled at the number of people that don’t understand or short change the sacrifices that people in the military make every day for every one of us. People that don’t understand or respect the job that these people volunteered to do, so that the rest of us wouldn’t have to. And of that very special group of people, these are the people that have sacrificed the most, that have paid a huge price for us, so that we can go to work every day feeling safe, so that we can conduct our lives in freedom and security, so that these players can adored by millions of people and make incredible amounts of money for playing a game. I think there should have been very close to 100% attendance at this event. I think they owed it to those men and women in that hospital.

There is an inscription on a memorial that that is included on the film shown during the Star Spangled Banner at the Dragons games… it says, “All gave some, some gave all”.

I don’t know how to say it any better than that.

I’ve been a Reds fan since the late ’60’s, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in ’84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in ’90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

Join the conversation! 19 Comments

  1. Nice follow-up, Bill. A little original reporting here at Redleg Nation….

  2. “There is no need to make anything negative out of the visit.”

    I don’t know how to say it any better than that. Where was your reaction when some names were left out of the Antonio Perez story? Was that not as important?

  3. Nope, didn’t bother me at all.

    I feel terrible for that kid losing his grandfather, but that was a personal tragedy (and I’m not belittling that). Plus, in the stories about that, they didn’t say, “These players didn’t have anything to do with the kid”…it just named some players who did.

    This story is about doing what’s right…and there were 6 players who put themselves out to do what’s right and 19 who didn’t. I’m embarrassed for and disappointed in those players that didn’t think it was important enough to take a few hours to go to that hospital.

    Comparing it to the Antonio Perez situation is “apples and oranges”.

    I think it’s also a bigger issue of realizing that we owe something to both our country and those that serve it.

  4. i think it’s great that players who wanted to go visited the hospital, i’m sure they all learned a lot and that the patients appreciated it.

    but what’s with the political commentary? i think it’s completely justified if some of the reds players don’t feel the same way you do about the armed services, and especially the current war, since i certainly don’t.

    i like when players give back to the communities they play in and to the charitable causes that mean the most to them, but to critisize people for what they think is important is in poor taste, and doesn’t have much to do with reds baseball.

    if you want to say that you don’t think the reds do enough work for important causes in general, that’s one thing, but i don’t think that it’s your place to judge the good will caauses that the players choose.

  5. All gave some, some gave all…

    What have you ever given?

  6. I agree with Bill 100%. And I don’t think there’s anything political in what he wrote. You can be against the war, yet still be supportive of the troops who are making the sacrifice for us.

    As far as I’m concerned, Bill is exactly right here. We should ask the questions.

  7. 4 years…active duty.

  8. And you still don’t know if those who didn’t attend were even asked to participate.

    I’m a troop supporter, but I think it’s terrible that you’re putting these players in this kind of situation. Some of these guys don’t see their families for several weeks at a time. How would you like it if you had to call your wife and kids saying, “sorry I won’t get to see you for another week because my employer has mandated that I go visit the wounded.”

    Your criticism amounts to requiring goodwill. That takes the heroism out of the act and villifies those who don’t participate.

  9. i have and i hope all people would have compassion for people who have suffered a great injury, but if the reds players don’t respect the war or violence as an option in general, i wouldn’t expect them to feel more strongly about a wounded soldier than they would about a victim of a drunk driving accident or any other terrible event. the soldiers chose the lives they led knowing the dangers, many victims of tragedy don’t get to do that and in some ways that may be worse.

    again, i think it’s great that players who felt strongly about going did, i’m sure it was a wholly positive event. but just because one person can’t imagine anything more important than visiting injured soldiers, doesn’t mean that other people couldn’t and that they may be just as giving and charitable as anyone else.

  10. First of all, newguy’s comment was completely uncalled for.

    That said, Al and Brian make good points in defense of the players. But I wouldn’t expect a reasonable response from Bill. This is the same guy who went apoplectic when Josh Holden was allowed to leave the Army early to sign with the Reds — even though the Army itself supported the policy! It’s fairly obvious that, when it comes to military issues, he’s not willing to seriously engage with people who have opinions that differ from his own.

  11. Again, like I said in the other thread…some Reds are natives of other countries. I wouldn’t expect them to visit American military hospitals. By my count, that’s seven of the 25-man. So six of the 18 American-born players went to the hospital. What’s wrong with that? 1/3 isn’t enough? Sure, I’d love for them all to have gone, but it’s not always feasible.

  12. “Land of the free, home of the brave.”

    That should cover all involved, no?

    Super post, Al. I couldnt have said it better if I tried. I have a young child with an ongoing medical condition, and the Reds visited Children’s Hospital last year during one of her extended visits. Kudos to Tom Hume, Josh Hancock, and Darren Bragg. I also know, firsthand, that other players have given their time…unpublisized…to visit some of the kids in the unit.

    I know that I personally do not give a large percentage of my free time to needy causes, and I probably field a lot fewer requests than major league ballplayers.

  13. This might be part of the reason why a lot of celebrities keep their charity work private. There are a lot of reasons why someone didn’t go on a particular trip – and publicizing some of them inevitably draws questions about all the others. There are dozens of valid reasons that other players didn’t go, and rather than focusing on the guys who did, we’re doing a disservice to everyone.

    Here’s my take: If I had the chance to visit that hospital (and the guys would care to see me), I’d go. I would like to think that most other Americans would feel the same. BUT, I’m not willing to pass judgment on the people who didn’t go. I appreciate Bill’s efforts to get more details (and his views on miliatary service), but at the end of the day, I have to agree with the Reds’ PR guy – this is a great story, and there’s no need to make something negative about it.

    We simply don’t know why guys didn’t go, and I don’t think it’s fair to judge them until we do. Or frankly, to condemn someone for their own attitudes about community service (or the military). In my opinion, the best way to encourage more people to do the “right” thing (as most of us see it), is to praise the guys who did it.

  14. I’m going to post one more point about this and then I’m done with it.

    It is very disappointing to me to see how little the people in our country these days seem to understand the concept of “duty, honor, and country” and how little many of us understand the sacrifices the American military has made and continues to make so that we can enjoy the freedoms we do everyday.

    This wasn’t a long term committment we’re talking about here. It was a few hours out of one day. I think everyone that could have, should have taken the time go to just to say, “thanks for making my life possible”.

  15. New Guy, You’ve got to ease up! You’ll blow a gasket.

  16. Fair enough–my post was a bit inartful. But I think the point is a fair one.

    We’ve become a finger pointing culture–everyone points at the other guy and complains that that guy doesn’t do enough or that that person is the problem.

    If we would do a better job of asking ourselves what more we can do, we’d be better off.

    When I asked what you’ve done, I didn’t mean military service…I meant for people who’ve lost in the current conflict. Have we all visited soldiers, or contributed to funds for the families left behind, or support policies and public officials that support these people? Have we all done the exact types of things we’re not bitching that some ballplayers didn’t do?

    Once we’ve answered these questions in the affirmative, then I think it becomes appropriate to get into whether others have done likewise.

    Hope that’s a little more clear.

  17. Bill, you’ve got to lose the chip on your shoulder. You have absolutely no idea what kind of respect the Cincinnati Reds have for the sacrifices of our military based on who didn’t show up at the Naval hospital.

    There is a big difference between people who respect military service and those who disrespect non-service. You fall into the latter category.

  18. This is so beyond ridiculous that this has become an issue.

    How do you know other players didn’t thank veterans in Cincinnati? How do you know they didn’t visit other places? Are these guys supposed to visit a military hospital in every city they visit?

    Yes, it was Washington, but these guys do charity work and give their time to causes all the time. Just because they don’t go to see wounded veterans or don’t strap ribbons to their cars doesn’t mean they don’t support troops.

    Bill, you think we don’t do enough to recognize military personnel. I think we do plenty already, and this forced patriotism garbage is getting ridiculous.

  19. First time poster here but I have been reading along all season with the rest of you diehard Reds faithful and I’m a little upset that I am not posting about the Reds but about this subject. I am active duty now and to be honest I doesn’t bother me if not Red visited a hospital to chat it up with returning injured veterans. I didn’t join the service to get to meet and greet baseball players, celebrities or politicians if I ever get wounded. I don’t want to go overboard but just one soldiers opinion. Now on to bigger and better give me a good start tonight Aaron I want to be in good mood tomorrow.

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About Bill Lack

I've been a Reds fan since the late '60's, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in '84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in '90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

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Reds - General