|Reds Fest a dream for local volunteer|
|Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:29 PM|
The 2012 event had an added third floor for Kidz Zone events and the children were treated to story time read by some of the players, including current Reds players like J.J. Hoover, Xavier Paul, shortstop Zach Cozart and Sean Marshall, reading a baseball-themed book to dozens of kids as mascots Gapper and Mr. Redlegs sat with them. There was also a video arcade, basketball hoop, putting green and place for the kids to run themselves ragged at the Steal Home Challenge.
Santa Claus even made an appearance, greeting the kids upstairs which encompassed 25,000 square feet of space for a plethora of events in the Kidz Zone.
“This is my fifth one, so I’m kind of a veteran when talking about Redsfest,” Cozart commented. “As a team, it keeps getting better. The fan base — they keep coming out. From what I can tell this year, it’s crazier this year than it’s been in the past. We’ve been playing so well and they’re so excited about the team and they should be. It’s been pretty fun for us.”
Much of the current roster of Reds players and coaches attended during the weekend, including Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Aroldis Chapman, Ryan Hanigan and manager Dusty Baker. Announcers Marty and Thom Brenneman and Jeff Brantley were also in attendance. Alumni players included Eric Davis, Dave Parker, Ron Oester, Dmitri Young, Ted Power, Tommy Helms, Clay Carroll, Joe Morgan, George Foster and a host of others.
This writer had the privilege of sitting at dinner next to Morgan and Foster from the Big Red Machine days. They were greeted by other volunteers and were regaling about their playing days with the Reds. Both were part of the back-to-back World Series teams in 1975-76.
Besides meeting the former Reds players and getting an opportunity to chat with Marty about my daughter and how my wife doesn’t believe he calls me Dave, which he acknowledged and laughed about, I had the chance on Friday night to work in the main pavilion at the speed pitch located right across from the Fox Sports Ohio booth.
During the evening, the Fox Sports Girls came over to give it a try as Reds TV announcer Jim Day watched; Mr. Red and Rosie also came over to give it a try with Mr. Red hitting the radar gun at an impressive 65 mph.
The main stage also featured the annual Hot Stove question-and-answer session with Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty. There were also “kids-only press conferences,” with players and other question-and-answer sessions with the broadcast crew that included Brantley, icon Marty Brennaman, Chris Welsh and Jim Kelch.
The 2-day event ended Saturday evening with a rocking concert by Arroyo.
Players who were not able to attend this year were Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce. Bruce got married the weekend before. Other players said they look forward to the event every year. Proceeds benefit the Reds Community Fund.
The organization are already planning for Reds Fest 2013 and you can bet that this writer is going to have his name on the volunteer list again for next year; it appeared that after Saturday evening, I may even get the nod to return.