Michigan resident and Redleg Nation member, Tim Brandstetter drove to Lima yesterday for the Reds caravan event and filed this report:
My wife and I made the drive from that state up north, Detroit to be exact, to the caravan stop in Lima, Ohio. We got to the Lima Mall around 30 minutes before the event was to begin, and found the place packed full of Reds fans! Although this was not ideal for getting through the line for the meet-and-greet, more on that later, it was great to see that level of support for the Reds.
Since the line made a complete lap around the mall’s concourse we were able to hear the brief Q+A session pretty well. The most newsworthy question was directed towards Bob Miller, Assistant General Manager, about Scott Rolen. Bob stated that he expects to hear news about Rolen within the week. Bob continued by saying that if he returns, he will fill a utility role and having him will make the team stronger. It sounds as if the team is committed to having Todd Frazier as the starting 3rd baseman come Opening Day.
The question that drew the most laughter was from a young boy who asked Brandon Phillips how many more Gold Gloves he would win. Brandon promptly responded, “TEN!” He referenced last year but unfortunately I was not able to make out his comments through the crowd noise. If anyone else there caught what he said please share because I thought he should have added to his Gold Glove collection last year.
The most impressive take-away from the evening was how well the Reds organization handled the event across the board, from the stars to the staffers. To start, Brandon Phillips doesn’t get enough credit for how he cares about interactions with fans. When he realized that the whole crowd was not going to be able to make it through the line, he left the podium and worked the line in reverse, ensuring he signed for everyone there.
But beyond Brandon, the whole crew was exceptional. While working the crowd, Gapper took a turn in the hurricane wind arcade simulator, which gave the kids a good laugh. For those who think Mr. Redlegs should be the only mascot, I unfortunately have to report that Gapper did not blow away. And finally, the Reds staff was great.
Over the three-hour period while we were there, not once did I see any of the Reds’ personnel absorbed in their phone or seeming uninterested in the event. They were attentive and energetic, even on Day 3 of the caravan. I have to give a special thanks to the staffer who brought our section in line entry forms so we could be included for the Opening Day tickets raffle when it became apparent our group would not make it to the raffle station.
And to top if off, when they had to cut off the line due to time restraints, and yes we were unfortunately part of that group, everyone still waiting was given a token of appreciation. The caravan is just another example of how committed the Reds are to the their fans and the city of Cincinnati.
The most memorable part for me personally was at the end of the event when I walked up to the side of the stage and asked a staffer (again, high class and many thanks) to ask Todd Benzinger a question for me since I didn’t have the opportunity to go through the line. I was lucky enough to attend Game 2 when I was a kid and that experience is the foundation of my fandom. For those of you who might not remember, Bezinger hit a rocket off Rick Honeycutt in the bottom of the ninth. I think most of the stadium thought that just might end it until Rickey Henderson made a great catch. I asked Todd if when he hit it, did he think he just won the game. He answered an emphatic “I did! But in the end it had just too much topspin.” It was great to relive just a small taste of that World Championship. Hopefully that taste was an appetizer for things to come in 2013.
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.