My dear friend “Mercury” Marty Brennaman has issued a few words regarding the upcoming 2013 Reds Caravan (Northern Tour)…
The Reds Winter Caravan is almost here. Four days out of the 365 each year that I point toward.
Its a gathering of greatness…the Rock Star Group (also known as “The Chosen”), if you will. Bob Miller, our spiritual leader, Jamie Ramsey, Ryan Rizzo, the great Brandon Phillips, last years’ Caravan Rookie of the Year, Tucker Barnhart, Gapper and, I’m truly blessed, yours truly. Talent, personality, humor, humility and, above all, the God-given ability to connect with you great Reds fans in a positive and in some cases, a life-changing, way.
Believe me, we don’t take any of this lightly. Others might but we don’t. We hope…no, we know, when you leave one of our Caravan stops, you’re a better person for the experience.
It all starts on Thursday and I fervently hope that before it ends on Sunday the 27th, our paths will cross with yours. If not, and I don’t mean to sound flippant or trite, there’s always next year.
Every year it’s a love-fest for us. We know you feel the same.
In closing, always remember…one autograph per person!
For the final time on this Southern Tour, Mercury Marty takes time out of his busy schedule to wax poetic on the final 36 hours of this Reds Caravan event…
For the second time in as many days, we find ourselves traveling north on I75 back to Cincinnati. But today is considerably different because this is the end. It is with no small sense of melancholy and sadness that I write this knowing that it won’t happen again until next January. It is always a time of reflection. And while the sadness is there, it’s a sadness of good (author’s note: that’s a LeRoy-ism) because of the wonderful things we’ve accomplished beginning on Thursday morning.
Last night in Bowling Green, Kentucky we were besieged by great Reds baseball fans – but then again that’s the way it is everywhere we go. Today in the shopping area beneath Rupp Arena, it was not UK basketball they wanted to talk about – it was Reds baseball.
When I lay my head down tonight on a familiar pillow for the first time since Wednesday night, you’ll pardon me if I shed a single tear. If you could walk in my shoes, and travel with the likes of Chris Welsh, Brandon Phillips, Bob Miller, Lee May and the Rookie of the Year Tucker Barnhart, as well as the spiritual leaders in this rock star group, this brand of brothers, The Chosen, if you will – Jamie Ramsey and Ryan LeRoy Rizzo. You could full well appreciate why these four days together are so special.
Already we look towards January 2013, and the same kind of love, camaraderie and courage that we’ve come to expect but never, I said NEVER, take for granted.
Until next year,
A recap of Saturday’s Northern Tour activites from Rob Butcher, Reds Director of Media Relations:
First, we begin today’s blog entry with the most heartfelt congratulations to the Southern “Rock Star” Leg. At the Select-A-Seat event at Great American Ball Park, that talented group presented to itself the inaugural Courage and Camaraderie Award. You guys do, indeed, rock. The more subdued Northern Leg began with another huge crowd in Columbus at Polaris Fashion Mall. I’m guessing about 500 diehard fans attended. Reds President and CEO Bob Castellini was a hit, as always. We even were visited by a few fans wearing Better Off Red shirts. Zach took the opportunity to find a few more movies for us, Beerfest, The Mechanic and Super 8. Our bus full of critics weren’t high on last night’s entry, Contagion. Too depressing, as was the pilot episode of AMC’s Walking Dead. I guess I didn’t realize there is only one way to kill a zombie….. Following a terrific luncheon hosted by WBVI Radio in Findlay, the Lima Mall stop, hosted by WIMA Radio, was off the charts. Couldn’t see the stage from the end of that line. It was awesome. More Reds fans than we could count. During that stop, Jay Bruce texted me that he joined the Twitter world. We asked our followers to follow him, and he jumped to 1,500 followers in a hurry. Follow Jay at @JayABruce. You can also follow Ryan LaMarre, the talented young prospect on our tour, at @ryanlamarre4
On to Dayton, where we’ll spend the night awaiting Sunday’s final stop, at the National Museum of the USAF at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. That’s a spectacular stop for us, a great way to round out the caravan.
See below how packed Lima was!
Once again, Mercury Marty takes time out to write a recap of today’s Rock Star Tour visit to the Reds Select-A-Seat event at Great American Ball Park…
After a day in which the Rock Star Group did not make a public appearance, we hit the road running this morning after a very restful night spent in Lexington, Kentucky. We boarded the bus at 9am sharp (we’re always on time) it was a day weather-wise that started out gloomy, threatening and extremely windy. It was a day, with normal people that would’ve been considered extremely depressing – with the Chosen, it was a day that portended a lot of joy, a lot of camaraderie, and most of all, a lot of giving to our multitude of fans. And not surprisingly, as we tooled up Interstate 75, amazingly, the cloudy skies parted similar to the parting of the Red Sea. Bright Sunshine and blue skies beat down on Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. We have grown used to seeing the weather change for the better everywhere we go and today, obviously was no different.
The Rock Star Group was the main attraction at the Select-A-Seat event at Great American Ball Park. And at the risk of sounding somewhat egotistical, we wowed them. The announcement that we promised, was received overwhelmingly by the record crowd. The announcement was that we are the worthy and humble recipients of the 2011 Courage and Camaraderie Award. Without becoming too wordy, it has to do with the relationship that the Chosen have, one to the other, as well as the relationship we developed instantaneously with the Reds fans we come into contact daily. Quite honestly, we are not surprised that we as a group were chosen for this prestigious award.
And here’s what it means, we simply work harder to put a smile on every face at each stop along the way.
Until next time,
Media Relations Director Rob Butcher checks in from the Northern Tour on Saturday:
First, we begin today’s blog entry with the most heartfelt congratulations to the Southern “Rock Star” Leg. At the Select-A-Seat event at Great American Ball Park, that talented group received, from itself, the inaugural Courage and Camaraderie Award. You guys do, indeed, rock. The more subdued Northern Leg began with another huge crowd in Columbus at Polaris Fashion Mall. I’m guessing about 500 diehard fans attended. Reds President and CEO Bob Castellini was a hit, as always. We even were visited by a few fans wearing Better Off Red shirts. Zach took the opportunity to find a few more movies for us, Beerfest, The Mechanic and Super 8. Our bus full of critics weren’t high on last night’s entry, Contagion. Too depressing.
President and CEO Bob Castellini, GM Walt Jocketty and Reds Hall of Famer Tom Browning at the Columbus Polaris Fashion Mall stop of the Reds Caravan.
The esteemed Director of Media Relations Rob Butcher checks in with highlights from the Northern Tour’s second day on the road:
Today’s Northern Leg visited Reds on Radio affiliates WHIZ in Zanesville, WILE in Cambridge and WMOA in Marietta, along with St. Benedict Elementary School in Cambridge and Grand Central Mall in Parkersburg, West Virginia. At WHIZ we met a young Reds fan named Larkin Rose. Honest. Best story of the day belonged to Tom Browning at the WILE Radio stop and involved Lou Piniella, a TV cameraman, Rob Dibble and Barry Larkin trying to break up a clubhouse fight without losing his post-shower towel. Thom Brennaman was asked to name the best broadcaster in his family. He replied, “It’s no contest, but I’ll let you figure out which one it is.” We had a good old-fashioned school assembly for the students at St. Benedict Elementary School. Lots of pom poms and very well-behaved kids. New mascot Mr. Red made an appearance. Principal Sister Theresa Feldkamp was our hostess. At one point during Friday’s travels, Browning asked squad leader Zach Bonkowski, “At what point do we start telling you what to do?” Phil Castellini jumped in, “At 2:00 Sunday afternoon.” Today’s first movie was Killer Elite. I think it ended 4 times before it actually did. Still not sure what it was about, but there were lots of broken bones and blood. Great, great crowd at Grand Central Mall in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Our good friends at WHNK Radio broadcast live from the event. Day 2 down, 2 to go…..
The one and only Larry Herms checks in with his crew’s report on their first two days on the Western Tour:
On Thursday, the first two radio stops WFTM Radio in Maysville, KY and WCYN Radio in Cythiana KY of the day were great stops but adventurous through the winding roads of beautiful Kentucky. At the Maysville stop on their food buffet had delicious sweet and tart pies. Rumor has it George Clooney ships to these pies out to California. In Batesville, IN WRBI Radio hosted a VIP meet and greet at the historic Sherman house. Our last stop of the day was a public stop in Hamilton, OH. We had roughly 400 Reds fans show up for an interesting Q and A session. We meet the little league coach of BOR’s Jamie Ramsey’s. He gave us an interesting scouting report of Jamie’s hitting ability when he was younger.
As Friday rolled around, we started the day off in Richmond IN for WKBV Radio. Chuck’s Sports Bar hosted a great breakfast buffet for our crew. Joe Z the Reds Broadcast Affiliate Manager received his new nick this morning “The Silver Fox”. The caravan brings out some great camaraderie among the participants. The West leg believes the camaraderie on their bus is by far the best.
Saw a lot of corn field from Celina, OH to Portland, IN. Without a GPS we might end up lost in one of those corn fields. The power of a GPS helps us navigate through some interstates and back roads.
Joe Z has now pronounced himself as the “voice of the Reds”. Marty B and Jim Kelch have taken exception to this new title. Joe Z is Public Address Announcer of Great American Ball Park.
Our public stop was in Munice, IN we had around 300 Reds fans show up for this event. We’ll share more as we continue through the Hoosier state on Saturday.
Once again, Mercury Marty takes over Better Off Red to recap last night’s Reds Caravan stop in Charleston, WV…
Every year at this time CBS runs ads promoting its TV coverage of the Masters Golf Tournament in April. My good friend Jim Nantz popularizes the cut-line referring to the tournament as an Experience Unlike Any Other. Well friends, that’s what we were confronted with last night…An Experience Unlike Any Other. Shortly before arriving in Charleston, Ryan Rizzo was informed by phone that a transformer had blown up, eliminating all but just a small portion of lighting in the Charleston Towne Center, the site of our appearance. You’re probably now asking yourself the question, ‘did it force a cancellation?’ On the contrary.
When we arrived at the mall, full knowing that this would be an experience unlike any other, we were greeted by executives of the mall as well as those fine folks at the Appalachian Energy Company. In full regalia, including miners helmets, they led us into the mall with lights on their helmets, blazing a trail to what – we had no idea. Were we surprised that, upon entering the mall the line of wonderful Reds fans trailed back to infinity in the semi-gloom of this darkened retail shopping center? How could we be? Rarely am I at a loss for words, but had I spoken at that moment, I would’ve been choked up. The people of Charleston wanted to see this Rock Star Group – this Band of Brothers, not knowing had they not shown up, that maybe just maybe, this would be the last time they’d ever see this group again. It’s one of those things that people naturally think about – going to see the Rolling Stone for the last time; seeing Paul McCartney – knowing that perhaps he may never tour again. Friends, that was the mindset of the folks that we bonded with last night. No need to go into the numbers but they were record-setting, in fact a friend of mine from Charleston (and I have many) commented to me this morning at the hotel it was the largest crowd he could ever remember at a Reds Caravan Stop.
I’d be remiss in closing if I didn’t extend kudos to the mall executives knowing that these great Reds fans and Band of Brothers fans weren’t going anywhere despite the absence of light. They provided us with glow sticks and amazingly, all the candles that we needed. The light from the candles was consistent with the glow in the eyes of the many youngsters who waited for hours to visit with us.
Until next time,
By way of introduction, the Northern Leg of the Reds Caravan includes broadcaster Thom Brennaman, Reds Hall of Famer Tom Browning, players Devin Mesoraco and Ryan LaMarre, GM Walt Jocketty and Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini. Rob Butcher, your author of this portion of the blog, and Zach Bonkowski also hitch a ride on the motor coach.
We had a productive but uneventful first day, including stops at Reds on Radio flagship 700 WLW Radio, a Reds Community Fund stop at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, radio stops at WBEX 1490 AM in Chillicothe and WMPO 1390 AM in Middleport followed by a great turnout at The Market on State in Athens. Thom, an Ohio University graduate,was the host with the most in Athens. He was huge there, as was OU graduate and Reds Hall of Fame and Museum Executive Director Rick Walls.
Our in-flight entertainment included the movies Columbiana and 30 Minutes Or Less. Both entertaining, yet neither will win an academy award. Still waiting to throw on the DVD last year’s favorite flick, Machete, which featured the memorable line “Machete don’t text!” Rained the entire trip, which is par for the caravan course, but driver Patty Patterson once again is on her game. Walt announced at the Athens stop that we signed RHP Jose Arredondo to a 2-year contract through the 2013 season, avoiding arbitration. He was the Reds’ lone remaining player eligible for arbitration. Headed for a good night’s rest before tomorrow’s Day 2 takes us to Parkersburg, Zanesville, Cambridge and Marietta. This is Devin’s third caravan, so he’s a veteran, but poor Ryan has no idea what the next three days has in store for him….
Photos from this morning’s Reds Caravan send-off.
Be sure to follow our travels right here on Better Off Red or on reds.com/caravan.
Also, follow me on Twitter at @Jamieblog. I, along with the other Caravan tweeters will be using the hashtag #RedsCaravan for all things related to the three tours.