If you’ve been reading Better Off Red through the years, you’re probably already aware of how much I love the Reds Caravan.  In my opinion, the annual caravan tour is the most unique off-the-field event produced by the Reds…and they do it right.  Four buses load up at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum on a Thursday morning and head out for a goodwill tour, covering over 3,300 miles of Reds Country.  One bus goes north, one south, one east and one west.  All of the motorcoaches return late Saturday night and the four groups come together the next day for the Sunday Select-A-Seat event at GABP.

Each of the four luxurious motorcoaches contains a Reds broadcaster, a baseball operations employee, a media relations staffer, a Reds employee to direct the trip, a current Reds player, a former Reds player and a current Reds minor league player…and of course, a bus driver.  Each bus also has a few advance teams navigating the trip in separate vehicles to make sure every caravan stop is set up and ready to go.  Those folks are the ones who do most of the heavy lifting and do so without the benefits of the ridiculous pampering the guys on the bus enjoy.

All four caravan groups have one or two large public stops each day of the tour, usually at a mall, with several smaller private stops scheduled throughout the day.  The smaller private stops are typically held at Reds-On-Radio affiliates in many of the cities throughout Reds Country.  There isn’t a whole lot of wiggle-room in the daily itinerary, as it’s precisely scheduled and rigidly enforced.

Many of my personal favorite moments of working for the Reds have occurred while on the Reds Caravan.  To commemorate the Caravan, the groups I’ve been a part over the years have taken “team photos,” each of which has been framed and hung on the wall in my GABP office (you can check them out below).

I’m lucky enough to be on the “Rock-Star Tour” as we so humbly named ourselves many years ago.  The Rockstars contain a core group of myself, my close friend Ryan Rizzo and the one and only “Mercury” Marty Brennaman.  There have been many others in the group throughout the years, but we remain the original three.  Bob Miller, Lee May, Brandon Phillips, Chris Welsh, Tucker Barnhart and Devin Mesoraco have all been Rockstars on more than one occasion (and Eric Davis & Doug Fynn have life-time memberships, despite just one year on the “chosen” tour) but for one reason or another, those guys won’t be with our group this year…and that’s a shame because we all have a great time together.

I got to meet one of my all-time favorite people in the world while on the Caravan bus – Lee May.  Lee, or “Mo” as he often goes by, is arguably the funniest person on the face of the planet – and I honestly don’t think I’m overstating it.  His verbal sparring battles with Marty on the motorcoach are the stuff of legend – and one day, if I write a book, I’ll include the actual language, warts and all.

That’s not to say Marty isn’t up there on the comedy scale with Lee, because he most certainly is.  There have been times while traveling on the bus that I’ve nearly barfed due to perpetual belly-laughing.  I keep a notebook of all the ridiculously funny Brennaman-isms, the content of which I can’t share here.  But something that Marty does on the Caravan that I can share with you are his hilarious daily caravan recaps.  Those will return here on Better Off Red next week with Caravan coverage , so be sure to check ’em out (and prepare to laugh).

So as we get ready for another year of the Reds Caravan tour, I hope you folks in and around Reds Country get a chance to stop by and see at least one of the four groups that’ll be appearing near you.  It’s fun…trust me.

For more details on the Reds Caravan CLICK HERE.


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