Here’s a report from Redleg Nation member, Luke Tyler, who attended the caravan event in Muncie.
Muncie is a strange town when it comes to baseball. While you can clearly see signs in bars and restaurants for the Colts, Pacers, and various college teams, the predominant baseball team represented is … the Cubs. This is strange, considering Muncie is far closer to Cincinnati than Chicago. If the Caravan is a fair representation of fans, then it’s clear that Reds country is alive and well in Muncie, Indiana!
I arrived at the Stoops Automotive Buick/GMC showroom 45 minutes early only to find the building already full. While I managed to find standing room inside, I was in the fifth group of fans to get in line for autographs. Thom introduced the caravan, noting that Walt Jocketty was still absent due to Stan Musial’s funeral. The MCs for the night were the two local sportscasters from the Muncie Reds affiliates 102.9 and 1340 WFXN.
The Q&A lasted about fifteen minutes but featured some memorable moments and enlightening answers. When asked about the meaning his arrow tattoo, Homer Bailey responded “It’s just an arrow” in the matter-of-fact manner we have come to expect from Homer.
Regarding the pitching plans for Aroldis Chapman, Phil Castellini stated that he will probably start the season in the bullpen. He also revealed information regarding improvements to GABP, including a new bar over the visitor’s bullpen and renovation to the Machine Room Grill. As a baseball enthusiast and avid Reds fan, I appreciated this honestly from Phil. He managed to provide some insight into how the Reds might handle Chapman, though I’m sure spring training will play a large role in that.
The panel and caravan were wonderfully engaging. Corky posed for pictures, and each member of the organization quipped with fans. Thom, in particular, was wonderfully engaging. While he often receives criticism from Reds fans for his broadcasting and analysis, he embodies the spirit, attitude, and dedication that are making the Reds into one of the most promising organizations in all of Major League Baseball. He has earned himself a new fan, even if I don’t agree with his Cosby-an sense of fashion
Having been to this event in previous years, a number of signs point to a bright future for Reds nation in Indiana. This was by far the largest Caravan event to be hosted in Muncie. At one point, people were waiting outside long after the event had started. The age of the crowd included both the traditional older crowd along with younger families. The generation the Reds had lost through their futility of the previous decade is coming back, and they are raising their children as reds fans.
There was a clear buzz among all ages of Reds fans. Memorabilia was being purchased at a surprising rate, and most fans were dressed in some article of Reds gear. Thom Brennaman said it best: The Castellinis have done a brilliant job of winning back the Reds fans in what was once Chicago territory. The Caravan has clearly been integral in this endeavor along with the quality team and organization that Jocketty has built.
The future is bright, and Reds Country is alive and well and growing. Spring training cannot come soon enough!
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.