Our week of tributes to departed Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is almost over, I promise. Indulge us just one more time, please.
I hope you read Nick’s personal story about what Bruce meant to him as a baseball fan. Now, I knew Nick was writing something about Bruce, but I didn’t realize that he intended to personalize it like he did. At the same time he was composing his post, I was trying to write a piece about my own Jay Bruce memories for Cincinnati Magazine.
Here’s my Bruce piece, and it’s a personal story as well. It opens with the first time I saw Bruce play in person:
A little more than eight years ago, mid-June, I was in New York City, strolling happily toward Grand Central Terminal. I had been to NYC a couple of times before, but that evening was special. It was going to be the first—and only—time I would get to catch a game at Yankee Stadium. The old Yankee Stadium, before the antiseptic update.
New York is always a great experience but, for me, that day was even better than most. My wife and I jumped on the train to the Bronx, excited to see The House That Ruth Built. I was particularly excited that the opponent on that night was going to be the Cincinnati Reds.
But most of all, I simply couldn’t wait to watch the Reds’ new rookie right fielder. A kid who, just a few weeks earlier, I had written glowingly about over at Redleg Nation, in a piece entitled, “The Legend of Jay Bruce.” I had actually been writing about Bruce for a while, and anticipating his arrival in the big leagues, but this was going to be my first chance to watch him play, and he’d be manning the same right field grass as the Babe himself (not to mention Paul O’Neill).
And I wasn’t the only Reds fan who felt that way. All day long, I kept bumping into people wearing Reds gear around the city. From across the street, I’d hear someone yell to me: “Go Reds!” I saw no fewer than ten people—on the mean streets of New York—wearing Reds shirseys with “Bruce 32” on the back.
I hope you’ll go read the entire thing, and let me know what you think. It finishes up with a personal story involving Jay Bruce and my 7-year-old son that made us both Bruce fans for life.
So yeah, I got a little sentimental. It may be the last time I write about Bruce at length. I’m really going to miss that guy.