By Chris Slone
April 14, 2014
Once again, as the annual tradition continues, the Cincinnati Reds invited the city of Portsmouth to Great American Ball Park for Portsmouth Days.
For Scioto Co., the contest between the Redlegs and the Tampa Bay Rays was an after thought as 34,307 spectators were treated with a pregame ceremony that featured Portsmouth mayor Steve Sturgill catching the first pitch from Portsmouth Distinguished Citizen of the Year — as selected by the Chamber of Commerce — Mike Bell.
Sturgill was excited for the opportunity to catch the ceremonial first pitch but it was also excited for his city.
“It was a great experience … ” Sturgill said. “Portsmouth had a great turnout. It was a great opportunity for Portsmouth fans to get out and go to a ball game.”
Sturgill was pleased with the response of the community who attended the game as well as the recognition for the city.
“Any time the city of Portsmouth can do something positive as a community, it helps us not only deal with the issues that face us every day here at home, but it gives us an opportunity to get out, and a day like that makes baseball fans and friends of all of us.”
As ceremonies go, throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game is probably the most pressure-packed situation an individual can face. In this instance, Bell had the weight of the community on his shoulders and he also had the pressure of throwing a baseball 60-feet-six-inches to sturgill who was waiting behind home plate.
The common fear among anyone who tosses a ceremonial first pitch is bouncing the ball to its intended target. Luckily, for Bell, this nightmare senior didn’t come to fruition.
“It was great to be there,” Sturgill said. “Mike Bell, who threw out the first pitch, you could tell he had been practicing. He did a very good job, he threw the ball over the plate. Actually, he almost threw it over my head. He was well prepared.”
Another local tie to Portsmouth, which happened merely by coincidence, was the presentation of the nation’s colors. Nathan DeCamp, a South Webster native and current student at University of Dayton, was approached about presenting the colors last week after the regular color-guard unit was unable to perform their duties.
A day before his big presentation, DeCamp learned that it was Portsmouth Days in the Queen city. Despite the coincidence, DeCamp said his nerves are always present as he present the nation’s colors.
“Anytime you’re going to do a formal presentation like presenting the colors, you get a little nervous because you want to be respectful,” Decamp said. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to present the colors, when you think about it, a lot of people sacrificed their lives for those colors to still fly and I take it personally. I get chills down the back of my neck when they start playing the national anthem and I’m out there presenting the colors.”
As far as the baseball game, Cincinnati defeated Tampa Bay 12-4 behind three home runs, the final blast came off the bat of Chris Heisey who hit a grandslam.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or on Twitter @crslone.