This morning the Reds Winter Caravan’s Western Leg stopped by the Shepard Community Center in downtown Indianapolis, IN. Roughly 50 kids stopped by to take part in a baseball clinic instructed by the Reds Community Fund, Champions Baseball Academy and Play Ball Indiana. Reds Community Fund Executive Director Charley Frank was there to present a $25,000 check to Play Ball Indiana, which is home to the Indianapolis affiliate of MLB’s RBI program.
Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson took part in a wiffle ball game and tried to show Manager Dusty Baker that he could also be a relief pitcher – until two young girls took him deep.
Right after the community center visit, the bus stopped by the Castleton Square Mall for a fan stop. More than 400 Reds fans received autographs and were entertained by the Caravan participants. New Reds on Radio affiliate WXLW 950 in Indianapolis was there to help promote the Reds and the event.
The Southern Leg finished up the Reds’ first ever Caravan stop in Nashville, TN. Plenty of Reds fans flocked to the RiverGate Mall to meet members of the “Rock Star” tour. Former Reds reliever John Riedling, who lives in nearby Franklin, came out to renew acquaintances with Marty Brennaman and Chris Welsh. John is out of baseball and coaching his kids’ sports teams.
For the first time since the Caravan started on Thursday, the traveling party was not served fast food chicken for a meal.
Now, the bus is on the road for a while as they travel back north to Lexington for a private stop at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
The Northern Leg made a stop in Findlay, OH today with a luncheon at the Findlay Inn & Conference Center with Reds on Radio affiliate WBVI. Local TV station WLIO-TV also stopped by to interview some of the players, including pitcher Mike Lincoln.
Also during the Findlay stop, Reds Winter Caravan Tour Director Zach Bonkowski re-stocked the North’s movie collection with Step Brothers and Wanted. The crew finished Eagle Eye this morning on its way from Columbus to Findlay and has been watching the new MLB Network on satellite in between flicks.
As the Southern Leg crew continues its visit at the RiverGate Mall in Nashville, rumors are circulating that the group is scheduled to take in a viewing of “The Notebook” during the ride from Nashville to Lexington, KY at the request of one Marty Brennaman.
No word on how this development might affect the South’s alleged “A Team” status.
While most of the Caravan updates have centered on the fans and the players at the public stops, the Northern Leg crew wanted to recognize Corey Hawthorne, Britton Martin, Dustin Bradds and Craig Bradds as well. They make up the North’s advance team and prepare the sites prior to arrival. It is because of them that the sites look professional and function the way they need them to. In the words of media relations guru Rob Butcher, “Their work is outstanding.”
Tonight’s movie from Athens to Columbus is Eagle Eye. The Northerners are giving it a thumbs up. Rob Butcher was the only person who liked the afternoon movie, The Boondock Saints. Zach Bonkowski, who claimed to own that film, took a little bit of abuse from his traveling partners over that selection.
Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman, a 1986 graduate of Ohio University, received one of the biggest cheers of the Reds Winter Caravan when he was introduced at The Market on State stop in Athens, OH tonight. Thom had the crowd of several hundred eating out of his hand with stories of how, on Thursday night, he took the Reds Caravan group to his favorite establishments on Court Street. The Caravan crew ran into a huge group of OU students from Cincinnati, many of whom showed up at the caravan stop this evening.
Below, Reds fan Megan Doster checks out the Reds Hall of Fame’s display in Athens, while a group of young Reds fans enjoys visiting with the ever-popular Mr. Redlegs.
An estimated 400 Reds fans showed up in Bloomington, IN this evening to welcome the Reds Caravan to the College Mall. It was the first Reds’ journey to Bloomington since the 1970s. For a short period of time in the 1940s, Bloomington served as the Spring Training home of the Reds. During those years they Reds scouted and found future Reds Hall of Famer Ted Kluszewski. Klu was a star baseball and football player for Indiana University and remains a legend in the Hoosier State. Dusty Baker was very impressed by the turnout of Reds faithful in the college town that also plays home to musician John Mellencamp.
A meet ‘n greet stop at Nancy, KY’s Harbor Restaurant went swimmingly well for the Southern Leg crew. The restaurant sits on top of a hill that looks out over Lake Cumberland, a spectacular panoramic view. Once again a large spread of food was provided, this time the emphasis was on fish and chicken wings (very hot ones). Unfortunately, the chicken wings were a little messy for Premium Sales Manager Ryan Rizzo, who ended up wearing remnants of the wings and sauce on his shirt after dropping one.
The program was smooth with several jubilant Reds fans in attendance for a brief Q&A and autograph session. The fans here were very knowledgable about the team and presented VP/Assistant GM Bob Miller with some very educated questions. The only question Miller had was how Harbor Restaurant served such delicious blueberries and strawberries considering those fruits are out of season.
Now, it’s on to a main fan stop in Bowling Green. The traveling party is running like a well-oiled machine according to Jamie Ramsey.
The advance team on the Northen Leg – composed of Britton Martin from the Reds Community Fund and Corey Hawthorne of Reds Heads Kids Club fame – are getting to see a lot of Reds Country the old fasioned way by coasting the back roads of Ohio and West Virgina.
The duo has traveled more than 450 miles and seen some amazing sights along the way, as they reach stops ahead of the regular Caravan group to make sure each stop is ready to rock when the bus arrives. The adventure continues as they plan to invade cities north of Columbus next. Corey, who serves as Brandon Phillips’ stunt double back at the home base, has only been mistaken for a player 7 times in two days.