As is now customary, the Reds (the ones under contract at least) hosted their third consecutive Halloween party Sunday night while Game 5 of the World Series played in the background. The tradition was a favorite of Reds from years past, with each iteration from 1996 to 2009 gradually getting wilder and wilder. Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn’s annual couples costume was once described by Aaron Harang as “literally the only thing that gets me through September.” Their rendition of Schilling and sock after the Red Sox World Series sweep of 2004 even got a smile from manager Dave Miley, which unrelatedly was also the last time anyone saw Miley smile before his 2005 firing.
But enough about the past: This year’s Reds Halloween gala marked the first time anyone not expressly affiliated with the team was able to attend. I did my best Kevin Roose at Kappa Phi Beta impression and slipped through the door just before first pitch. Security assumed I was a groundskeeper I guess. Pete Rose was also talking down to A-Rod when I entered, so maybe they were just preoccupied.
The party was held at a ski lodge in Montana, as became customary during Dusty Baker’s tenure. The area spoke to him, legend had it, he could hear the fish just begging to be caught.
Each player wore an individual costume; the couples motif retired following Kearns’ and Dunn’s eventual absence from the club. The first one I noticed was Brandon Phillips dressed as a Lil Debbie Hostess cake. I overheard Billy Hamilton mocking him for doing the same thing every year. Phillips just shook his head and smiled: “I’m #ALLREADY every year Billy. Gotta #STAYHUMBLE.”
With the first pitch, Devin Mesoraco sauntered in, dressed as Frankenstein’s monster. “You’re alive!” someone yelled from the back, earning big laughs from the room.
The game held everyone’s attention a bit longer than I expected, but I think that was more a product of the five consecutive strikeouts to start than any vested interest. After Trevor Bauer finally provoked Anthony Rizzo into making contact with the ball, the man, who I then learned to be Joey Votto, ripped the head covering off the bright green morphsuit he was wearing to yell, “Finally, someone prioritizes contact!”
Between innings, I asked him what exactly he was–with the morphsuit and a blue tutu and some dangly things around his neck. “Why I’m Old Greg of course. You know, the weird lake demon?” I decided it was best to leave Joey alone.
Things stayed pretty calm for the rest of the night after that. Adam Duvall, dressed as Danny DeVito from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, did flip a table when the Indians took the lead in the second. Scott Schebler, dressed as Adam Duvall, flipped a different table when the Cubs took the lead back. No one was quite sure what the intent behind either table flip was.
When the Cubs double switched David Ross out of the game, many of the old Reds started booing the screen out of respect. But then, J.J. Hoover and Cody Reed, who never knew David Ross but had decided to dress as ghosts, started freaking out because everyone else was stealing their bit. “I am the one who boos,” Hoover yelled at one point, to which Raisel Iglesias, standing beside me during the whole ordeal, whispered, “I think Reds fans would disagree.”
At some point in the night, I don’t quite remember when exactly, a man walked in wearing a Jay Bruce mask and jersey. Joey, no longer enthralled by the game, immediately yelled, “Brother!” and grabbed the nape of the man’s neck. Upon realizing that it was indeed a mask and not actually Jay, Joey crumpled and devolved into fits of sobs. Bryan Price took the mask off at that point and rubbed Joey’s back for a good inning and a half, cursing under his breath the whole way.
Zack Cozart was named the winner of the costume contest for his Steve Bartman imitation and took home a pumpkin with the World Series trophy carved into it to commemorate the occasion. “Wow, I’m honored guys. As a kid, I never dreamed I would one day hoist the World Series trophy,” Cozart said, lifting the pumpkin above his head and never breaking eye contact with Walt Jocketty. “I just didn’t expect it to be so orange. Walt, did you?”
Toward the end of the game, when Joe Maddon brought Aroldis Chapman in to seal the win, players started to trickle out. There was more than a small amount of uncomfortable silence in the room as no one quite knew how to feel. Tucker Barnhart, to his credit dressed as Louis C.K., tried to make a joke about it but he had also had too much punch and no one could understand him. It sounded a bit like: “Triple digit fastball? More like triple digit loser,” but I’ll pretend it wasn’t for the sake of Tucker’s dignity.
The real Jay Bruce did sneak into the cabin at one point in the night, but Tony Cingrani thought it was Price wearing the mask again and socked Jay in the stomach. Jay was dressed as a rubber chicken, so the sound he made as he crumpled to the floor was actually rather fitting. Tony never apologized to Jay or Bryan Price. Jay left shortly thereafter, confused and afraid.
Only three Reds–Jumbo Diaz, Homer Bailey, and Brandon Finnegan–made it to the end of the game, each more content to watch the snow fall than their sport. Diaz and Finnegan had gone for more traditional costumes–Jumbo as Biggie, Brandon as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Surprisingly, Homer Bailey went as Christian Laettner. No one bothered to tell him he had picked the wrong Christian.