I hope you all enjoyed following the Reds Caravan this year. For me personally, it’s an amazing experience that keeps getting bigger and better. I’m very fortunate to travel each year on one of the three motorcoaches with my dear friends Ryan Rizzo, Bob Miller, Chris Welsh, Lee May, Brandon Phillips, Tucker Barnhart and yes, “Mercury” Marty Brennaman. After seven years with the same core group, it actually feels like we are part of an extended family. Lee’s absence this year made things seem a bit incomplete despite a solid substitute performance by our buddy Todd Benzinger. (Lee had Reds Fantasy Camp obligations during this year’s Caravan).
If you’re a frequent follower of Better Off Red, you know we have self-appointed ourselves as the “Rock Stars.” The truth is, our perceived self-importance is a contrived act designed to generate banter between our other two “rival” groups. It makes an otherwise long four days on the road a little more fun. Trust me when I say the “Rock Stars” are completely aware of how ridiculous we are. I think our pals on the other two tours would agree with that “ridiculous” part. Hopefully our absurd antics aren’t taken too seriously.
The Caravan doesn’t exist without the heavy lifting done by our support staff and advance team. They are the people behind the scenes who don’t get to watch movies on the bus or nap when they feel a bit road weary. Nope, they’re the ones doing most of the work and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. For our tour it was Patrick McGrath, Matt Cherry, Shannon Senger, Kristen Meyers, Katie Busching, Mark Harlow and the one and only Nick “Gapper” St. Pierre. Each of the thee tours have these groups and they are the folks directly responsible for making the Reds Caravan the best in the biz.
Something I couldn’t help but notice during this year’s Caravan stops was the enormity of the crowds. All of our public “fan” stops were attended by so many Reds supporters that, at times, it became overwhelming. This is great for the organization. However, the enormous crowds do sometimes create issues. Our Caravan stops (and travels) are precisely timed, rigidly scheduled and strictly maintained. Thus, when the group is scheduled to depart a certain venue at a specific time, there’s no wiggle room or flexibility. This means there are some folks that don’t get a chance to get autographs or meet members of the traveling group. Obviously, it’s in the Reds’ best interest to accommodate all of the fans, but logistically, sometimes it’s just not possible.
Believe me when I say we really try to do our best to make everyone happy; this is evident by keeping the Caravan a free event (many other teams charge admission and for autographs) and especially evident when @DatDudeBP leaves the table to walk the autograph line to sign for everyone that may not otherwise make it through in time. That’s called taking the extra step to making the fan’s experience a positive one and it’s also called “Brandon doing his thing.”
Speaking of Dat Dude, he is easily the most accommodating star player I’ve ever been around. Is he flashy? Sure. Is he a hot dog? Absolutely. Has he ever lost the idea of how important our fans are? Not one iota. Instead, he is a PR dream. Brandon usually has a smile on his face and he’s always respectful and grateful for the support he receives from his adoring fans. He’s a great player, sure, but it’s his “fan-friendliness” that puts him on my short-list of favorite players. To site an example: when we were at the Lima Mall for the huge Caravan stop, Brandon took a breather from walking the line to sit down and chat with long-time Reds fan and World War II Veteran Frank Clark, who traveled from Bluffton, OH to support the club. It wasn’t scripted, it wasn’t contrived, it was simply Brandon doing his thing.
My buddies and colleagues on the other two Caravan tours checked in with similar stories and reported similar large crowds. It all makes me proud to be part of this event and especially proud to be a member of this organization.
Thank you to everyone who traveled this year to a Caravan stop or followed along online. We appreciate it very much!
After four days on the road, I am happy to be back home. But I know it won’t be long until I start looking forward to the next Caravan tour. In the meantime, we have some baseball to play and a championship to win. I’m beyond excited about the 2013 season.
Expect good news
(2013 Reds Caravan: Northern Tour)
“Mercury” Marty Brennaman puts the finishing touches on the 2013 Reds Caravan North Tour…
The bus is pulling out of Dayton and if ever there was an unforgettable stop in the history of, not only the Reds Rock Star Group, but the entire Reds Caravan, the stop at the National Museum of the USAF was absolutely record breaking.
Other groups can only aspire, but never really attain the numbers we appeared before today – try two thousand plus (not our numbers, rather, the museum’s announced attendance). They started lining up at 7 this morning; some of us were still asleep. When we walked into the hangar where the event was held, it was a sea of faces, with the one constant – the expectation that this was going to be one of the unforgettable days in their lives… and I’m here to tell you, it absolutely was.
It was a fitting way for the greatest of the great, to shut down another Caravan. This one had its own unique qualities that we will remember as a band of brothers and that you will remember as Reds baseball fans.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, because we pride ourselves on our humility, if the Reds of 2013 perform as well as we did over the last four days, all of the rest of the teams in the National League can mail it in.
Our individual and collective thanks go out to all whose paths we crossed since Thursday.
And to those of you who had to suffer through the Southern and Western Tours, hopefully, in your future is the Rock Star Group.
Until next time
PS – I hope his penmanship gets better
We ran into some snow on Friday during the second day of the Reds Caravan Northern Tour and had to navigate through some treacherous conditions on the east side of Ohio. We made it through just fine, though. Saturday we experienced incredible crowds in Columbus and Lima. Hall of Famer “Mercury” Marty Brennaman recaps days two and three…
First, my profound apology for not checking in with you great Reds fans at the conclusion of Day Two. As individuals and as a group, we have been so overwhelmed with a variety of events over the last 48 hours, that I was remiss in checking in with you on Friday. Sometimes, I’m at a loss for words (but not often) to adequately express the challenges and victories that we deal with over a four-day period.
Friday it seemed as if we were facing, at times, the perils of death; in a blizzard unlike many of us have ever experienced before. A snowstorm that bordered on a complete white-out. But it was not a deterrent. We forged ahead; as our bus trip took us where we needed to be. And while all of us were on the edge of our seats, I can say with every degree of certainty that not one person in this band of brothers ever had a thought of turning back.
We made our stops, unfortunately with the exception of beautiful Marietta, OH. But fortunately as the day wore on, the weather got better. Our day ended up in Parkersburg where we were greeted with another, yes, record-breaking crowd. When we laid our heads on our pillows in Columbus on Friday night, we did so with a sense of incredible accomplishment – overcoming odds that lesser bus tours (and there are two of them) would’ve never even considered going on.
Saturday was an entirely different day. The weather was glorious and our personalities were the same…wonderfully off the charts. From Nationwide Arena in the state’s capital (record-setting crowd) to an intimate get-together in Findlay, to our final stop in Lima, it was all amazing. In fact, Mr. Brian Tierney, the supervisor of maintenance at Lima Mall was quoted as saying, “There has never been a crowd this large in the Lima Mall for any Reds Caravan stop in all the years I’ve held this position. And considering the personalities that are here tonight, we didn’t expect anything less.”
We humbly express our great gratitude and love to all the fans on Friday who braved the elements, and those on Saturday who beat the doors down in Columbus and Lima just to look at us. We know that your time and effort was worth it.
Please look forward to our wrap-up later today.
Love and kisses,
PS – The only problem I’ve experienced on this trip, is realizing that my adult son can’t legibly write his own name.
Wow, what a day! Three big public stops this afternoon on the Reds Caravan and every venue was a sea of red. We’ve got one more day with stops in Dayton, Lexington and Hamilton. You can find the details HERE.
Check out all the fan photos on twitter by searching the hashtag #RedsCaravan. Here are some of ours:
MUNCIE (thanks Rob Butcher and Audra Sordyl)
LIMA (thanks Jamie Ramsey and Nick Erikson)
BOWLING GREEN (thanks Larry Herms and Kathryn Braun)
Hope to see you on Sunday!
It’s been a busy Saturday on the road for our Caravan crews. The crowds have been huge, the Q&A questions are great, and our fans are so enthusiastic about the 2013 Reds season. Thank you to all that have come out to see us. Here are photos from the first half of the day. Check out the schedule, photo albums and twiter coverage HERE
INDIANAPOLIS (thanks to Rob Butcher, Nick Erikson and Megan Hewitt)
COLUMBUS (thanks to Jamie Ramsey and Michael Anderson)
SELECT-A-SEAT EVENT AT GREAT AMERICAN BALL PARK (thanks to Larry Herms and Laura Coleman)
FINDLAY (thanks to Jamie Ramsey)
CELINA (thanks to Rob Butcher)
PORTLAND (thanks to Rob Butcher)
LONDON, KY (Courtesy of Larry Herms)
PARKERSBURG, WV (courtesy of Jamie Ramsey)
BLOOMINGTON, IN (courtesy of Rob Butcher and Audra Sordyl)
Tomorrow we head to Columbus, Lima, Bowling Green, Muncie, Indianapolis and Great American Ball Park. Get all the details on the Reds Caravan HERE. See you on the road!
Video from a very serious baseball discussion at our flagship station 700WLW
And photos from a few of our Friday morning stops in Reds Country, courtesy of the Reds Media Relations staff:
NORTH – Zanesville, Ohio
WEST – Batesville, IN
Sherman House in Batesville, Indiana. Roads not so good…….
SOUTH – Logan, WV and Pikeville, KY
Todd Frazier sings to Rosie in Pikeville, KY