By Mark Carpenter –
From April to October we often wonder if the Cincinnati Reds do anything right. On two days in early December, the Reds do everything right. If you are a Reds fan and have never attended Redsfest, you need to make it a priority next year. The Duke Energy Convention Center is transformed into a sea of red and for two days, everyone forgets that the team lost 94 games last season and just celebrates the game of baseball in Cincinnati.
The first time that you attend Redsfest can be really overwhelming. You have to be able to read a map and if you have a cell phone, and who doesn’t, you have to sign up for then figure out the schedule that the Reds will text to you. This year I had it mastered plus was able to get season ticket passes, so things went pretty smoothly and I collared a bunch of autographs.
When I was younger, I idolized many professional athletes, a different time and era for sure. I don’t feel that way now, but I have collected memorabilia for decades and that is one of my main purposes for attending Redsfest, but the event is actually geared towards kids, which is what it should be, though the autograph lines seem to be populated by adults. Let me add that they are adults that bring everything you can imagine to be signed-old stadium chairs, baseball cards, giant banners, photos, helmets, bats, posters, and many others that I can’t remember, but it looked like they were carrying a small U-Haul on their backs. I think for next year I am just going to knock out part of my man cave wall and take it along.
Redsfest can be an excellent tool for sharpening your decision making, because every hour when you get a text telling you which players are where, you have to quickly decide where you are going to go stand in line. And there is a lot of standing in line, hours of it. That is why it is imperative to take along a wife, girlfriend, or significant other who does not mind standing in line. That way you can split up and stand in different lines and not get on each other’s nerves all day. My wife was a “stand in line” trooper this year and all it cost me was a promised trip to Hobby Lobby. Not a bad trade-off for adding 17 new autographs to my collection.
One of the things I use Redsfest for is to get some of the photos that I have taken at Reds game signed for myself, and I got six more of those on Saturday. Scott Schebler loved the photo I had of him, wondering what he was doing diving back into first base. Ariel Hernandez and his girlfriend wanted me to tag them in my photos, which I have no clue how to do, and Michael Lorenzen thought it was neat that I had a picture of him hitting instead of pitching, and he remembered exactly who he was hitting against in the picture. (It was C.C. Sabathia which Lorenzen described as an “adventure.”) I was able to chat with Jeff Brantley (“The Cowboy”) for about 10 minutes and got some time to ask GM Dick Williams where the Reds stood on the newest Japanese superstar and what the plans will be for number one draft pick Hunter Greene. (He thinks he will start the season in Dayton if you want to go ahead and plan that trip.)
The four most sought after signatures were of course Joey Votto, then it was Scooter, Greene, and Tucker Barnhart, and the Reds make sure those signatures are pretty much reserved for just the kids, though those players appeared on stage a number of times. It’s not just the autographs-all of the departments in the Reds organization are represented and I am proud to say that the ticket sales area was designed by a girl who grew up in my house and she did a fantastic job according to all her superiors. My son was also volunteering for the Reds and ended up playing basketball with Greene on Saturday afternoon. My wife’s day was a success when she got a selfie with her favorite player, Eugenio Suarez, who she just calls “Suarez” because I don’t think she has any clue how to pronounce his first name.
All in all, it was a successful day for my whole crew and I am sure for many of the thousands who were in attendance. And I don’t think I heard one person mention those 94 losses. Hope springs eternal.