This week, the Cincinnati Reds will embark on its annual caravan across four states of “Reds country.” As players, coaches, executives and fans gear up for the last large event before baseball begins a new season, let’s go back to the last event of the offseason and relive some of the moments I witnessed at Redsfest, which occurred in December at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

Redsfest is always one of my favorite events in December. It lets me talk about baseball and be immersed in baseball right about the time I start to miss it from the previous season. When I was in college, I had more free time and I would always sign up to volunteer one day of the weekend. So, when I had the opportunity to do it this year, I decided to take it.

When I arrived on Friday afternoon, I got my assignment of helping at the speed pitch game. I didn’t think much of it at that time, but later I would learn it very well may have been the most popular game for kids at Redsfest. From about 7:30 to the 10:30 closing time, we were non-stop. While it was tiring having to retrieve the baseballs and seeing the same kids over and over again, it was still 100 percent worth it. There are two reasons why.

I was handing baseballs to kids, and suddenly a Reds security person showed up with Hunter Greene, the second overall selection in the 2017 draft. Greene threw a couple pitches and then he was going to give kids tips as they were pitching. Fans noticed and began to crowd the line, trying to be one of the lucky ones to pitch in front of the 18-year-old phenom, while their parents scrambled to take photos. With all the kids crowding around and one pushy parent trying to make sure his kid pitched while Greene was watching, the security personnel said “we only have time for one more.” I had noticed one kid about 9 or 10 years old who had been waiting patiently for his turn. I told him, “You’re next” and made sure he would pitch while Greene was watching. If I did nothing else, I can only hope that I was able to make that one kid’s day.

The second instance occurred later that night. I was sitting in a chair facing the speed pitch when I heard a familiar voice behind me. It was former pitcher and current Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley. He and his security personnel had stopped to watch some of the kids pitch. In between signing autographs for those who came up to him, he watched and started yelling tips to the kids, like “keep it low” and “step *this way* when you throw”, all while telling his security guy just how much he enjoys this part of Redsfest. Each time I have volunteered I can pinpoint specific instances like these two that make the Reds organization and its players one of the best.

On Saturday, I decided to take everything in as a fan. In between watching the Crosstown Shootout, I walked around the Duke Energy Center enjoying the baseball atmosphere and watching the interactions between players and fans. I saw Scott Schebler play catch with a couple of kids in the outfield of the kid’s ball field.


Of course, I had to sit and watch the Kids Only Press Conference with Joey Votto as well. He does it every year, and every year, he never disappoints (it’s one of Votto’s favorite things about Redsfest, also). This year, it was Adam Duvall, Scooter Gennett and Votto. It was fun to watch as they joked with each other (Gennett and Duvall called Votto old) and shared memories together like teammates do.



Whether it’s Redsfest or the Reds caravan, the Reds always do a great job of keeping fans engaged with the organization all year long. Redsfest provides that opportunity for those closer to Cincinnati, and for those who live too far away to make the trip with the Caravan. It makes the fans feel like they are connected to the players, keeps baseball on their minds, and gets them excited about something that is right around the corner: spring training.

13 Responses

  1. Seat101

    What a joy to read. I plan on volunteering next year.

  2. gusnwally

    I went this year and had a great time. It was my 2nd time. I recommend all Reds fans make at least one. I got pics with Eugenio, Peraza, Castillo and a joint pic with Dave Parker, Jack Billingham, Tommy Helms, Tom Browning and Tracy Jones. Got them all up in my cave. Along with all my HOF’s and Big Klu,Everyone has a great time.

  3. cfd3000

    Sounds fantastic Ashley. Between the Internet,, Extra Innings, and of course RLN, it’s a great time to be a long distance Reds fan. But there are times when I do wish I lived a lot closer…

  4. Steve Mancuso

    I volunteered about 10 years ago and had a great time. I was assigned to autographs. What that meant was that I was assigned a specific player and would stand next to that player for the 30-45 minutes he was signing autographs. I wasn’t supposed to do anything, just kind of do light policing of fans in line. But the side benefit was standing a foot away from a major league player. I was assigned to autograph sessions for Chris Dickerson and Drew Stubbs. They each were impressive in their own ways. Dickerson struck me as extremely smart and engaging. Stubbs was really shy and decent.

  5. Steve Mancuso

    One way the Reds could be blog-friendly would be to let a few of the major, long-term Reds blogs have a table at Redsfest. Fans could meet bloggers and vice versa. I don’t know whether the Reds would say yes to that or if we’ve ever asked. I remember the idea on occasion, but usually right before Redsfest, too late to suggest it.

    • MrRed

      But not too late to suggest for 2019 Redsfest!

  6. Thomas Jefferson

    Thanks, Ashley! Fun read. Makes me think about volunteering.

  7. J-Dub

    These fan fests are amazing. At a Twins Fest a few years (it was when they still had them in the old Humpty-Dome) I got to have a solid four-minute with Bert Blyleven while we were standing in line to buy hot dogs of all places. Where else are you going to do that?

  8. renbutler

    On our way to the Indy stop of the caravan in about an hour. My 6yo is excited to see Tucker Barnhart and get Gapper’s signature on his Reds Heads Club baseball. 🙂

      • renbutler

        We couldn’t get there until about ten minutes before the scheduled event. The entourage was delayed coming from Bloomington, but local-boy Barnhart was already there as he did not attend the previous stops.

        I asked my kid if he wanted to wait in the very long line for an autograph, or just go say hi to Barnhart behind the stage (which was in the open, so it wasn’t a restricted area). He decided to go say hi. Barnhart said hello and gave him a fist bump. I said we were also looking for an autograph from Gapper, and he said he hadn’t seen the mascot.

        I then said, “I could ask you for an autograph, but that would be cheating the people in line. I would completely understand if you said ‘no.'” But he looked around waved us closer, and signed my kid’s baseball. 🙂 He was very gracious and accommodating because my kid is on the young side.

        We eventually tracked down Gapper too, who was mingling around where regular shoppers were passing by. He invited my kid to sit in his lap, and then autographed a Gapper card. It’s amazing what a mascot can communicate strictly through whistling!

        Good crowd as always, maybe 200 sitting or in line, and additional curious folks milling about to figure out what the commotion was.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Thanks for the account. Glad to hear the crowd was strong.

      • Chad Dotson

        Just glad you got that Gapper autograph! Sounds like a good time for you guys.