THE WHEELS ON THE BUS
I honestly can’t remember the last time the release of the Reds Caravan schedule was met with so much anticipation. It seems like you Reds fans are ready for some baseball! I can’t blame you, I’m beginning to get my game-face on, too.
Last night it was announced that this year’s Reds Caravan will take place January 24-27. Once again the Caravan will consist of three separate tours traveling simultaneously through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia – covering more than 2,800 miles over the four days.
The Northern Tour, whose stops include Athens, Parkersburg, Columbus, Lima and Dayton, will feature Marty Brennaman, Brandon Phillips, Chris Welsh, Tucker Barnhart, Bob Miller and Gapper.
The Southern Tour, whose stops include Huntington/Ashland, Charleston, Cincinnati (Select-A-Seat event at GABP), Bowling Green (KY) and Lexington, will feature Jim Kelch, Jeff Brantley, Todd Frazier, Logan Ondrusek (1/24 & 1/25 only), Billy Hamilton, Dick Williams and Rosie Red.
The Western Tour, whose stops include Louisville, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Muncie and Hamilton will feature Thom Brennaman, Walt Jocketty, Jay Bruce (1/24 & 1/25 only), Homer Bailey (1/26 & 1/27 only), Corky Miller, Ryan LaMarre, Phil Castellini and Mr. Redlegs.
Those are some pretty solid lineups, if you ask me. To see a full schedule, click HERE.
Ryan Rizzo and I have been traveling together on the “Rock Star Bus” since 2007. This year’s tour will be my seventh – all with Ryan, Mercury Marty and @DatDudeBP. Bob Miller, Chris Welsh and Tucker Barnhart have also been annual fixtures on the “Chosen” motorcoach.
A notable omission to the “Rock Star Group” in 2013 is Lee May. Lee, aka “Mo,” is the heart and soul of our merry band of pranksters and our group is quite gloomy that he has to miss this year to fulfill a commitment to Reds Fantasy Camp (Fantasy Camp runs concurrently with the Caravan). I talked to Mo last night and he has demanded daily updates from the road….and he also wants Ryan and I to call him anytime Marty gets out of line (time to load up on minutes).
I love the Caravan. It’s probably my most favorite Reds event that I get to be a part of. I can’t speak for the other two groups, but our guys have a lot of fun on the bus and laugh until our eyeballs nearly pop out. We very much enjoy the stops, too. It’s fun catching up with some of our old friends while making new ones along the way.
I think one major thing about the Reds Caravan that I’ve grown to appreciate the most is that it’s free to those who want to go and get something signed. Nowadays, a lot of teams are charging their fans for either admission or autographs. I don’t anticipate the Reds ever going down that road.
Some folks don’t realize that in addition to the public fan stops (mentioned in the schedule), the Reds Caravan spends most of its time visiting radio affiliates where the groups go on the airwaves to spread the good word about Cincinnati Reds baseball. These “radio stops” are tightly scheduled and rigidly enforced, which is why we include the following sentence in Caravan literature: “At each fan stop, the group will field questions from fans and sign autographs while time allows.” Most of the time the Caravan groups are able to accommodate an autograph to everyone at the public stops but sometimes it’s simply impossible due to the schedule.
This year, I’ll once again be live blogging (and tweeting) from the Reds Caravan (Northern Tour) – sharing funny stories, lots of photos and descriptions of the situations we encounter on the road. Better Off Red will also be hosting blogs from the Southern and Western Tours as well (Usually Rob Butcher and Larry Herms bring us those entertaining entries).
Hopefully you’ll join us, either on the information superhighway or on the actual paved version.