The Southern Leg is on the road for Day 2, headed to Pikeville, KY and Reds on Radio affiliates WLSI and WPKE. Second baseman Brandon Phillips already has one radio appearance under his belt for the day, having called in to Alan Cutler’s show on 1530 HOMER earlier this morning.
To pass the time, the crew is watching the movie “Maxx Payne” on one of the bus’s televisions.
The second day of the Reds Winter Caravan is underway, and the Western Leg just wrapped up a visit at the historic Hoosier Theater in Vevay, IN after spending the night at Belterra Casino Resort & Spa. The theater was built in 1837 and in 1983 was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
An estimated 120 people showed up for the event, most of them kids. The highlight for everyone was Reds top prospect Yonder Alonso sharing his story about his dad getting the family together and defecting from Cuba to the United States. In fact, the entire Reds panel shared with the kids just how important their parents had been in ther lives.
After departing the throng of fans in Charleston, the Southern team headed for Huntington, WV, where the Reds Community Fund hosted a youth baseball clinic at Huntington High School. The clinic was co-hosted by Champions Baseball Academy and promoted the Reds summer campsplanned for later in the summer. Kids ages 12 to 17 were on hand to receive tips and encouragement from Chris Welsh, Marty Brennaman, Lee May, Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco.
After the clinic, the bus headed to Fannin Motors in Ashland, KY, where hordes of Reds fans were on hand to get autographs from the Reds group. Longtime Reds scout Gene Bennett , who’s from nearby Wheelersburg, OH, made his way to Fannin Motors for this stop and was received warmly by the local crowd.
“We’re here to see Brandon Phillips,” said Reds fan Kim Young, who came with her sons Hank, 8 and Townes, 3. “Considering it’s our local team, it’s good to see the Reds reciprocate our committment to them by showing up here in Ashland every year.”
Alan Madden brought his wife Markie and 13-year-old son Jordan and said, “I used to come to the caravan stops in Portsmouth years ago. It’s just good relations for the team being here. I’ve been a Reds fan since I started breathin’ air and grew up with with the Big Red Machine. I took my wife to a game on our 20th anniversary.”
And what does Madden think of the Reds chances in ’09? “We’re gonna get ’em this year!”
Earlier, the South Leg made its second stop of the day at the WUGO studios in Grayson, KY. WUGO is a loyal Reds affiliate and has become one of the favorite stops for the Caravan travelers for two big reasons – hospitality and food. Station rep Tim Carper once again served as an outstanding host and was excited to have the Reds in town. Because Tim’s interview segments are always fun and filled with laughter, Marty and the gang always have a good time at WUGO. In fact after one fit of on air laughter, Mary put it best when he said “We’ve lost our minds.” This also has become the traditional spot for the Caravan bus members to take their “team picture” in front of the call letters outside the studio.
As far as the food goes, Tim and his crewbrought in a great spread, one that resembled a mini-edition of a mall food court. There was chicken, pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, french fries and just about anything else the Caravaners could fatten themselves up with. Devin Mesoraco took most of the abuse for eating (more than) his share.
From Grayson, the self-proclaimed “Big League Leg” journeyed on to Charleston, WV for its first main public stop of the day. The location was the Charleston Towne Center, a very spacious mall where lots of fans offered a warm greeting. “I think its great the Reds come here because we don’t have any pro sports teams here in the state so the Reds are our team,” said Sara Harlan from – appropriately enough – Left Hand, WV. Sara also brought her 7year-old daughter Silken. Sara’s mom used to take her to Reds games when she was Silken’s age, so she wanted to provide an opprotunity to her daughter to introduce her to the franchise she’s grown up rooting for.
“The Cowboy” Jeff Brantley and the rest of the Western Bus just wrapped up visiting with Reds on Radio affiliate WKYW radio in Frankfort, KY. The hospitalty was outstanding down in the Bluegrass State.
Earlier in Louisville, more than 300 fans showed up at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Bats. During the visit, Reds CEO Bob Castellini announced that the Reds and Louisville had extended their deal to keep the Bats as the club’s Triple-A affiliate for four more years.
What peanut butter recall? Reds Hall of Famer Tom Browning doesn’t hesitate to devour a piece of peanut butter pie at Theo’s during the Northern Leg’s stop in Cambridge.
Walt Jocketty speaking with Brian Wagner from WHIZ in Zanesville.
Meanwhile, Jeff Keppinger signs an autograph for a Reds fan at the station.
The Western tour just wrapped up visiting with Reds on Radio affiliate WXGO radio in Madison, IN, home of the famous Madison Regatta. The Regatta remains one of the signature unlimited hydroplane racing events in the American Boat Racing Association. This race draws approximately 100,000 people annually to this southern Indiana town.
The city of Madison rolled out the red carpt for the Caravan group, with Mayor Tim Armstrong meeting the bus outside the radio station.
The Northern Leg crew is apparently experiencing some technical difficulties, with the bus’s satellite TV going in and out and a sound glitch with the DVD player on board.
Fortunately, “Mr. Perfect” Tom Browning is keeping the group from revolting by entertaining them with his patented standup comedy routine.
The Southern Leg is off to a successful start and just completed its first stop at Angelo’s Pizza in Cynthiana, KY.
Brandon Phillips, Devin Mesoraco, Lee May, Chris Welsh, Marty Brennaman and other Caravan members met with fans and signed autographs. In what has become a Caravan tradition in Cynthiana, members of the traveling party signed the Angelo’s dining room wall before departing for Grayson, KY.
Reds fan and Cynthiana resident Bob Doan, 75, was on hand chatting with members of the traveling party. “Cynthiana is a small town and we really appreciate the Reds coming here. We’re happy they’re here,” said Doan. Doan has been a Reds fan since 1946 and has since been making several trips every summer to Cincinnati to watch his beloved Reds.
WCYN Radio, the Reds on Radio affiliate in Cynthiana conducted on-air interviews.